Nearly half a million people tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Suppose, says clinical epidemiologist Frits Rosendal (LUMC), that half of the people already have a test done at GGD. Then there are the million people infected with the coronavirus. “A surprising amount,” Rosendal says.
However, the government wants to cancel all Corona rules next week. Hague sources report to Norwegian Refugee Council Minister Ernst Kuipers (Public Health, D66) also wants to scrap the mouth mask obligation on public transport and test negative at larger indoor events. Reportedly, only advice still applies, such as washing hands and checking in case of a complaint. The outbreak management team met on Friday about the measures, and the cabinet will make a decision on Tuesday.
Is there anything left to worry about now?
sick hospital staff
The coronavirus is no longer a cold, says Rosendal, but he’s no longer really concerned about the high numbers of infections: “I think hospitals aren’t really concerned with the number of new patients anymore. It’s just going up a little bit. Thanks to previous vaccinations and infections, it’s not much more than a flu wave. annual. Absenteeism among employees is a bigger problem.”
Epidemiologist Alma Tostman of Radboudumc sees this too, as everything needs to be done to complete the tables. “If a lot of people get infected, this also applies to the hospital staff. For Omikron, we did five to ten positive tests a day, including for example employees who work in administrative departments. A few weeks ago there were thirty, which caused in trouble. Now there are about seventy days.” The list puzzle has so far been put together without the need to deploy infected staff – but the coronavirus is still defining what can and can’t be done in hospitals.
So Tostman still has some concerns about infection numbers: “Of course, the number of hospitalizations is not as high as it was last year. But the shelter that was there for a while last summer, when there were only two hundred patients, is not there either. Now more than 1,500 Covid patients are in hospital. In addition to the high rate of absenteeism among staff, a lot of delayed care must also be compensated for. If there are more Covid patients, it means that we cannot perform other treatments.”
So Tostman would like to wait until the last rules are repealed until the pollution wave is over. Of course, the country does not have to be closed down again. But you can see that more elderly people are getting infected than in January. I expect this to lead to more hospitalizations.”
Before further relaxation, an alternative must be found, says Tostman: First, for example, ventilation must be arranged in the food industry, in schools and other public places. And there should be a clear plan for what will happen if bigger problems arise, for example due to a new virus variant. “You can pretend it’s over and move on as if it never happened, but I don’t think that’s wise,” Tostman says.
Rosendal thinks the latter rules can be repealed. I would drop those last few actions, they don’t do much anymore. Look at the number of people injured at the carnival. Omikron is very contagious, and to keep it under control you have to shut everything down again, but it’s not worth it anymore. Everyone will have it now, whether you have to wear a mask on the train or not.”
Rosendal says the government must act now. “You have to prepare for the new variables. Is the stockpile of medical masks, virus inhibitors and vaccines in order? Do we have enough IC beds, or should they be expanded? How do we prevent schools from having to close again, is there a ventilation system, are there options for hybrid teaching, with some The students are in class and some are at home?” You don’t have to wait long, Rosendal says. You may have been preparing for something that won’t come, but the government has been very positive before. Now everyone is thinking: we will have a nice summer and maybe something will come in the fall, but a new kind can also come in May. ”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on March 12, 2022
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of March 12, 2022
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