The number of positive coronavirus tests in the Netherlands has fallen by 20% over the past week, according to the latest seven-day update from public health institute RIVM.
In total, 28,628 people tested positive for the virus but the downturn in the number of tests meant there was little change in the positive test rate – which is now around 11.4%.
The RIVM also warned that the more infectious version of the virus first identified in Britain may now account for two-thirds of all new cases in the Netherlands. The estimate is based on computer models rather than actual lab results.
Nevertheless, this is further evidence that there are two pandemics underway in the Netherlands – the older form of the virus and the new B117 variant, the RIVM said.
The figures also mean that ministers should show utmost caution with any plans to reduce the current strict lockdown rules and remove the curfew, the agency said.
Three other variants of the virus have also been identified in Dutch coronavirus patients. The mutation first spotted in South Africa has been found 23 times and the two Brazilian variants have both been identified twice.
Despite the drop in the number of positive cases, the Netherlands still remains in a serious stage of the epidemic, the RIVM said.
In total, 1,216 new patients were admitted to hospital, 166 down on the previous seven day period. Of them, 254 people were taken to intensive care wards.
The RIVM also said 448 people had died of coronavirus in the past week, compared with 512 in the previous week.
Ministers are meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss relaxing some of the lockdown rules, but experts have urged them to show caution. According to RTL Nieuws, the government will push back a decision on extending the curfew to the weekend.
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