On the day of relaxation, 25 September, RIVM reported 1,602 new corona infections, compared to 2,914 infections today. And the weekly average also increased, from 1670 on September 25 to 2547 today.
1. What do the rising infection rates say?
It is becoming increasingly difficult to make good statements about this, says medical microbiologist Marc Bonten, who advises the cabinet as an OMT member. “Because the vaccination is not evenly distributed across the country and a large group cannot be tested or vaccinated.”
The most reliable analysis, he says, is looking at the number of hospital and ICU admissions. “That’s been pretty stable so far.” Today, 512 corona patients are in hospital, 138 of whom are in intensive care. On September 25, 470 people were hospitalized, 173 of whom were in intensive care.
‘Coronavirus forecasts for autumn and winter worse than expected’
The forecasts for how corona will develop further in the coming autumn and winter months are worse than previously modeled. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) writes this in an advice to the government.
According to the OMT, there is ‘a greater degree of uncertainty, including a sharp increase in hospital and IC admissions’. That is why the experts advise not to relax further now.
“We do expect a slight increase next week based on the model that has rarely let us down until now.” This mainly concerns people who have not been vaccinated, says Bonten. “In hospitals, 95 percent of corona patients are not vaccinated.”
2. Why are the numbers rising?
Bonten told RTL Nieuws a month ago that the 1.5-meter measure was one of the most efficient parts of the total package of measures. According to him, releasing them would lead to an increase in infections.
That’s what we’re seeing now, he says. “That causes the largest increase in infections.” The other measures that have been relaxed since September 25, such as the further opening of the catering industry and the organization of events, are also responsible for the increase, according to him. In addition, there is a seasonal effect. “But I don’t think that’s very big so far, because the weather was good.”
Reported Positive Tests
According to the RIVM, the relaxations have led to more contacts in the entire population, and therefore to more infections. “That is a clear cause,” says Susan van den Hof of the RIVM.
What does not help, says Bonten, is that the vaccination rate is barely increasing. “It’s going very slowly.” According to him, especially unvaccinated people infect each other, and the spread of the corona virus is also highest in areas where vaccination coverage is low.
Incidentally, he does not think that the regional outbreaks have much impact on the total infection figures. “In an absolute sense it is a drop in the ocean, because it concerns small municipalities.”
3. Has the increase been taken into account by RIVM, or is it faster than expected?
This increase was expected, says Van den Hof. “We’re seeing it across the board, across all age groups and regions. And especially in regions with low vaccination coverage areas.”
According to Bonten, an increase in infections after the relaxation has been ‘absolutely taken into account’. “This is in line with expectations. I also think that there were scenarios in which the number of infections rose faster. In that regard, it is actually not that bad.”
4. Does the increase have consequences for the relaxation?
Bonten believes that the cabinet should exercise restraint with regard to relaxation. “We are in a pre-pandemic situation when nightclubs are allowed to open all night again, face masks are abolished in public transport and the corona ticket is no longer necessary. But if we abolished that now, the chance of a new wave is real. .”
It is still unclear whether there will be any relaxation, says Susan van den Hof of the RIVM. “We really need to look at how the epidemic will progress in the near future to advise on easing in November. It is too early now. We will look at it again at the end of this month.”
On November 1, a new assessment will be made about the corona measures, made clear in their press conference on September 14.
In the decision-making process in November, the expectations for the weeks that follow will mainly be taken into account. De Jonge expects that the corona ticket will remain for a while, he said today after consultations with other ministers. However, efforts are being made to increase the capacity of events and extend the opening hours of the nightlife.
5. What will winter be like and will we get another wave?
“I don’t expect another wave like in April of this and last year,” says Bonten. But he says it is uncertain what the winter will look like. “We don’t know to what extent people are still vaccinated, and that is the most important thing to fight the pandemic.”
In addition, we do not know whether the effectiveness of vaccines will decrease and what that means, explains Bonten. “And we don’t know what easing will do in the long term, how big the seasonal effect is and how much the flu will play a role. If you take that into account, there’s a chance that quite a number of people are in hospital. Then talk we’re talking about several hundred people in intensive care.”
The number of hospital admissions is expected to increase in the winter, says Van den Hof. “It is difficult to predict how quickly that will happen and how high the peak will be. The scenarios assume a sharp increase in infections, but the question is whether the increase in hospitals will also be that significant.”