Van Dissel: Omicron responsible for up to 15% of infections and rising fast
Coronavirus infections and hospital admissions are continuing to decline, but the rapid spread of the Omicron variant poses a serious risk, health chiefs said on Tuesday.
Jaap van Dissel, director of the centre for disease control at the public health agency RIVM, said the new variant was currently responsible for between 10 and 15% of infections, but cases were doubling every two and a half days.
He said pressure on the healthcare system would increase in the next few weeks, even with the lockdown that came into force on Sunday.
‘Even with a rapid lockdown we can expect 100 to 150 intensive care admissions per day, assuming Omicron leads to the same number of hospital admissions as the Delta variant,’ Van Dissel told a technical briefing in parliament.
He added that there was no evidence so far to show that Omicron was less likely to cause severe illness than previous strains of coronavirus.
The latest weekly bulletin from the RIVM showed total infections were down by 18.6% in the last seven days, with another 94,864 cases reported. The positivity rate increased by 0.5% to 23.9%.
Hospital admissions declined by 32.8% to 1,335, the lowest weekly figure for six weeks, while 248 people were admitted to intensive care, 26.6% fewer than in the previous week. The number of reported deaths was also down by 27.6% to 322.
Cases fell fastest in school-age children and people over 70, with the number of positive tests down by up to 40% in the over-85s.
The infection rate was 544 per 100,000 people, ranging from 440 in Groningen to 649 in Zuid-Holland-Zuid.
The RIVM said it expected Omicron to become the dominant strain of coronavirus before the end of the year.
The total number of positive coronavirus tests since the start of the pandemic passed the three million mark on Tuesday, with another 9,450 confirmed cases recorded by the RIVM in the past 24 hours.
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