Chairman of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), Jaap van Dissel, has said in an interview that he doesn’t expect the Netherlands will face another coronavirus lockdown this winter, despite the rising number of infections and hospital admissions.
The Netherlands unlikely to face winter lockdown thanks to vaccinations
Talking to the AD, Van Dissel said that, thanks to the progress of the Dutch vaccination campaign, the Netherlands was in a “fundamentally different situation” compared to last year. According to figures from the Dutch government, 83,2 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This time last year, the Netherlands faced a rising infection rate, and was headed towards a Christmas lockdown and the introduction of a national curfew, but Van Dissel thinks this winter will look very different: “[Last winter] we had no vaccines, so in all reality, I see no reason to recommend such drastic measures.”
Van Dissel optimistic that things could be back to normal by spring
In spite of Van Dissel’s positivity about the vaccination rate in the Netherlands, he admits that it’s difficult to predict what the future might look like and whether people need to worry about the rising number of coronavirus cases and what they could mean for Dutch hospitals.
“Initially, the relationship between infections and hospital admissions was clearer, but due to the high vaccination rate, that ratio is now different,” the virologist explained. “We now see many of the infections occur, for example, amongst young people, so that is relatively favourable for the number of hospital admissions. But it also depends on the rate of spread in unvaccinated groups and regions where fewer people have been vaccinated.”
Van Dissel also addressed the issue of the need for so-called booster shots, but doesn’t believe a wide-scale booster shot campaign is necessary in the Netherlands. He also said the country could be fully free from the virus’ grip by the spring.
Dutch hospitals struggle to handle rising COVID-19 infections
This week, the Netherlands has seen the number of COVID-19 infections rise by a whopping 44 percent compared to last week. Between October 12 and October 19, 25.751 new infections were reported by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), who attributes the increase to the relaxations announced at the press conference on September 14, as well as the colder weather.
Certain hospitals have already struggled with an influx of coronavirus patients, and the National Coordination Centre for Patient Distribution (LCPS) has announced that, starting Wednesday, patients will once again be relocated to different hospitals in order to relieve the burden in the busiest areas. On Tuesday, there were a total of 617 coronavirus patients being treated in hospital, 152 of which are in intensive care.