Practically all coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands have been lifted, and while life may have returned to normal in many ways, the national COVID-19 infection rate is the highest it has ever been.

2022 sees record number of COVID-19 infections

Researchers at the Sanquin blood bank have reported that, since the start of 2022, the Netherlands has recorded more coronavirus infections than were reported in 2020 and 2021 combined. 

According to chief researcher and microbiologist Hans Zaaijer, the blood bank’s most recent assessment of COVID-19 antibodies found that 55 percent of people aged 18 to 25 have been infected over the past two months. Furthermore, blood sampled from 98 percent of donors have antibodies against the virus.

Zaaijer also told the NTR TV programme Atlas that those who have been infected with COVID-19 and have received their vaccination are better protected against the virus, and that the antibodies remain in their blood for a longer period of time. On the other hand, at the end of last year, he said that virtually no antibodies were detected in the blood of those who had received either the Janssen or AstraZeneca vaccines and emphasised the importance of booster shots.

RIVM: Infection rate in the Netherlands once again on the rise 

While the official research report is yet to be published, Zaaijer’s update comes as the Netherlands faces a record daily infection rate. The weekly report published by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) on Tuesday revealed that figures were once again on the rise, with almost 440.000 positive tests recorded between March 1 and March 8 – an increase of 79 percent compared to the previous week. 

70 percent of all tests carried out by the GGD came back positive, with the highest infection rates recorded in North Brabant and Limburg – areas that recently celebrated the first carnival since 2020. In some regions and cities in the south, the RIVM says the infection rate per 100.000 inhabitants was the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic.

While the infection rate rises, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals remains stable, and the number of patients in intensive care continues to fall. But, the RIVM has pointed out that the recent increase in positive tests could impact the hospitalisation rate over the course of the next two weeks.

Another coronavirus press conference on March 15?

Approximately two weeks since the final coronavirus restrictions were lifted, the Dutch government is discussing what the next step might look like. Another press conference could take place as early as March 15, with the cabinet meeting with the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) on Tuesday to discuss the situation and whether more measures could be abolished.

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