Hospital and IC admissions will determine the government’s coronavirus policy this autumn instead of the infection rate.
Caretaker minister Hugo de Jonge told MPs that the number of people who have been vaccinated is high enough to warrant a different approach to the handling of crisis.
Nearly 82% of adults have now been fully vaccinated, according to a recalculation by the RIVM, which has now included people who have had a jab following an infection.
However, some 1.8 million people have not been vaccinated, 16,000 to 22,000 of whom are expected to end up in hospital at some point and some 2,200 to 3,400 in IC.
‘Fewer measures are now necessary. But the health services are under pressure ’ De Jonge said. The number of new infections is currently around 2,500 a day.
Efforts will now be made to persuade as many people as possible to get vaccinated and to spread out the infection rate among people who are not immune so as not to put too much pressure on hospital capacity and healthcare staff.
Three scenarios will be in place from the autumn. One foresees an ‘endemic situation’ where the virus is under control and hospitals can cope. The second scenario is one of ‘flare ups’ and the third envisages an ‘immunity breakdown’.
The second, and most likely, scenario has been divided into the levels ‘vigilant’, ‘worrying’ and ‘serious’. These levels will determine the scope of the measures, the minister said.
Each level is based on the average weekly number of hospital and IC admissions combined with factors such as the number of vaccinated people and the number of available IC beds, a maximum of 1,350 at peak periods.
The current level according to the new system is ‘worrying’. This means that on top of, for instance, quarantine and basic hygiene, measures such a corona passport for entry to bars and sports facilities have been added to the mix.
Should the ‘serious’ level apply, the 1.5 metre rule, maximum group size, and homeworking could return and corona passport entry for schools could be introduced.
‘It makes sense at this stage of the pandemic to have another look at government intervention’ epidemiologist Alma Tostmann told broadcaster NOS. ‘But the question is when exactly these interventions will take place. If admissions are already high it will be too late. Then it will take weeks before the pressure on healthcare eases.’
A health ministry spokesman confirmed that ‘more flexibility’ has been introduced in the new approach, and that other indicators will be taken into account to determine the steps that need to be taken.
The new system comes into effect on September 25.
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