Many people showing coronavirus symptoms don’t self-isolate, RIVM reports

Many people showing coronavirus symptoms don’t self-isolate, RIVM reports

A new study by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and the GGD shows that many people in the Netherlands who suffer from coronavirus symptoms choose not to self-isolate, and that very few get tested.

People showing symptoms don’t self-isolate

The Dutch government advises anyone who shows any symptoms of the coronavirus to stay at home and self-isolate to prevent the further spread of the virus. However, research conducted by the RIVM reveals that 80 percent of the people surveyed admitted they still go out if they show symptoms, with 50 percent of them attributing these symptoms to a different illness or issue, such as hay fever.

Interestingly, the support for the measure to stay at home if suffering from coronavirus-related complaints decreases from 87 percent to 60 percent if people start showing symptoms. However, if they test positive for the virus, 95 percent of the people surveyed expressed willingness to go into isolation, and if a housemate tests positive, 84 percent would happily self-isolate. 

The behavioural research was carried out by the RIVM in conjunction with the GGD between May 26 and June 1, and again between June 17 and 21. Over 50,000 participants were included in the research. 

Few people were tested for coronavirus

Since June 1, changes to government policy have meant anyone in the Netherlands can get tested for the coronavirus. The research showed that, for those showing no symptoms, 68 percent said they would like to be tested if they started showing symptoms, such as a runny nose, a cough, shortness of breath, or a fever. However, when people already showing symptoms were asked, only 28 precent suggested they would like to be tested. Furthermore, only 12 percent of people showing symptoms revealed they had been tested.

When asked why they would not get tested, many people said it was because they believed their symptoms weren’t because of coronavirus, but instead because of a cold or hay fever. They also did not want to rush to the doctor because of mild complaints, and would rather wait some time and see if anything develops or changes. 

Those who have been tested revealed they did so to be certain whether or not they were ill, so that they could protect other people or return to work. 

Government concerns about these results

Government parties People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) have expressed concerns about these research results. Hayke Veldman, an MP for VVD, said: “It may mean that stricter measures must be introduced again. We all should not want that. Not for ourselves and not for our companies. We have to do it together. ”

A spokesperson for the RIVM emphasised that testing, tracking, and isolating are crucial for keeping the spread of the virus under control. The RIVM states that by having 500 people test positive in the past week, around 3.000 infections in the next six months are likely to have been prevented. They believe that making information and statistics like this more available to the public might make people more willing to get tested. The spokesperson reiterated how important it is for everyone showing symptoms to stay at home and get tested as soon as possible.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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Deepak YN 10:31 | 17 July 2020

When the IT company insists us to travel 5-6 hrs everyday in public transport and go to work, we never know if we catch it anytime or even unknowingly pass it on to others...