The government’s scientific advisers have been asked to investigate the rapidly rising trend in coronavirus infections after positive tests increased almost sixfold in the last week.
The RIVM reported another 3,688 confirmed cases on Wednesday, compared to just over 600 a week ago. The seven-day average figure has nearly trebled in the past week to 1,650, while the percentage of positive tests has gone up from 3% to 5.6%.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge said he was seeking advice from the outbreak management team ‘as to whether we really ought to be worried’. He pointed out that the vast majority of recent cases have been in people under 30.
The upswing in infections has happened so fast that it has yet to have an impact on hospital admissions, which typically lag around a week behind infections. On Wednesday there were 206 Covid-19 patients in hospital, six fewer than on Tuesday, of whom 104 are being treated in intensive care.
The government has said it is considering whether to reintroduce some infection control measures, but did not specify which ones. Most rules, including the face mask mandate and restrictions on numbers of customers in cafés, bars and restaurants, were scrapped on June 26 following a month of rapidly declining infections.
De Jonge insisted that the cabinet’s aims of protecting vulnerable people and the healthcare system were not in jeopardy now that nearly 40% of the population was fully vaccinated, but admitted that the numbers are ‘going up very fast’.
Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has told bar and nightclub owners to tighten up their checks on negative coronavirus test results if they are part of the test for entry system, or enforce the 1.5 metre social distancing rule more strictly if they are not.
The ‘test for entry’ regime has come in for heavy criticism after running into problems on the opening weekend. Test results were delayed as the system struggled to cope with demand, organisers claimed they had been hacked and some nightclub goers claimed they had been able to get in to venues without taking a test by sharing QR codes.
At least one man went out while infected after he was given the wrong test result by the call centre.
The accelerating trend is also casting a shadow over people’s summer holiday plans, as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control requires regions to have fewer than 50 infections per 100,000 people in 14 days to be cleared for unrestricted travel.
Countries with an infection rate of more than 500 are classed as dark red. Wednesday’s figure for the Netherlands is equivalent to an infection rate of 21 in a single day.
The number of vaccine doses has officially passed the 17 million mark, with an estimated 62.3% of the population having received at least one dose.
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