The number of patients in the Netherlands testing positive for coronavirus rose by 155 to 959 on Saturday, the public health institute RIVM said in its latest daily briefing.
In addition, two more people have died of the disease, taking the total deaths to 12. All were older people with underlying health problems, the RIVM said.
The downturn in the number of positive tests – there were 190 on Friday – is probably because of changes in testing policy, the RIVM said. ‘Since March 12, people with mild symptoms are not being tested because the national strategy is now to stay home with early complaints. In addition, more tests are being carried out on at-risk groups.’
RIVM epidemiologist Jaap van Dissel told the Telegraaf on Saturday that it is up to doctors to decide if people are tested and that the policy is to focus on people from vulnerable groups.
This includes the over-70s and people who are offered a free flu vaccination because they have underlying conditions, he said. ‘This means that we can ensure we have the provisions needed for people who need it most,’ he said.
The RIVM said it is still to early to assess if the government’s call on people to reduce social contacts is having an impact.
The RIVM interactive map shows where cases are located, and that Noord-Brabant remains a hot spot. The map shows, for example, the number of confirmed infections in Amsterdam has now risen to 31, outstripping Utrecht (30) Rotterdam (24) and in The Hague (9).
Meanwhile, website Nu.nl has spoken to doctor and microbiologist Marjolein Knoester about reports that the virus can be spread by people with no symptoms.
‘Because there has been so little research, there is a lot which is still not clear about how coronavirus is spread,’ she said. ‘The studies so far seem to show that you are infectious if you have symptoms. But the studies cannot rule out you being infectious before you have complaints.’
Much depends on how you define mild symptoms, Knoester said. ‘Everyone describes their symptoms in a different way and some would not describe having a runny nose as a symptom,’ she said.
The uncertainty about transmission makes it all the more important to follow the advice to wash your hands often and to avoid touching your face, she said.
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