With experts across the country voicing concerns about another coronavirus wave in the autumn, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) reported over 3.700 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday – the highest figure since the end of July.
RIVM: COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands are rising
While the number of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands appeared to have stabilised at around 2.000 new cases per day, the latest update has revealed that 3.746 new infections were registered by the RIVM on Wednesday. The last time the Netherlands recorded such a high daily case number was on July 29, when 4.452 positive test results were registered.
The latest figures reveal that the number of daily cases has almost doubled over the last week, with only 1.909 infections reported on October 7. The virus’ R-number is also on the rise, currently sitting at 1,12 after several weeks of being below one.
While hospital admissions remain fairly low, they, too, are on the rise. According to figures from the National Coordination Centre for Patient Distribution (LCPS), last Thursday there were 469 coronavirus patients being treated in Dutch hospitals, 128 of whom were in intensive care. As of Wednesday, these figures have risen to 524 and 137 respectively.
Experts warn Dutch hospitals can’t handle another wave
It’s been exactly one month since the last coronavirus press conference, and with November 1 fast approaching, many may be wondering whether the Dutch government will introduce any further relaxations to the current measures. While hospital admissions and coronavirus-related deaths remain low, many medical experts have warned the government not to act too quickly.
This week, the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) said there was a “great degree of uncertainty” when it came to the further spread of the virus in the autumn and winter months, and that there could be a “sharp increase in hospital and ICU admissions.” The experts have advised against lifting any restrictions in the short term.
Diederik Gommers, chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care, also told the NOS that it was too early to lift any more restrictions: “Our nurses are really done psychologically, they need more time. There are now 130 patients in the ICUs, and we can handle 180, but not a peak of 400. Then, we would have to scale back regular care and we really don’t want that.”
De Jonge says coronavirus certificates are here to stay
While the next coronavirus press conference is still more than two weeks away, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has already spoken out about what the public should expect when it comes to the future of COVID-19 restrictions. Many have complained about the introduction of the coronavirus certificate system, but De Jonge says it’s here to stay: “If you want vaccinated and unvaccinated people to be able to reunite in groups, you have to make sure you do that safely and that is with the coronavirus pass, so we can’t get rid of it already.”
Instead of abolishing the coronavirus certificates for cinemas, events, nightclubs and restaurants, the government is set to examine the possibility of lifting restrictions that are “actually economically impeding.”
But what does that mean? Well, if relaxations are announced at the beginning of November, nightclubs and the rest of the catering industry may no longer have to adhere to the midnight closing time, and the maximum 75 percent capacity rule for certain events could be lifted.