Wednesday 23 September 2020

Over 4,000 new Covid-19 patients in one week, positive test rate hits 3.5%

Jaap van Dissel talking to MPs. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

The number of coronavirus patients has risen for the fifth week in a row, with 4,036 new cases reported in the past seven days, according to new figures from public health institute RIVM.

That is 1,448 more than in the previous week, RIVM chief epidemiologist Jaap van Dissel told MPs during a briefing on the crisis on Tuesday.

The percentage of positive tests has also increased from 2.3% to 3.6%, the RIVM later confirmed.

However, just 38 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital, down six on the previous week. Nine people died, a rise of three on the first week of August.

Van Dissel told MPs that youngsters continue to account for the bulk of new infections and that this would explain the low hospitalisation rate because they tend to experience milder symptoms.

Ventilation

Concern has also been mounting in recent days about the impact of good ventilation and air conditioning systems on the spread of the virus, particularly with autumn school terms poised to start soon.

Asked by Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher about what to do about schools which do not meet the proper requirements, Van Dissel said: ‘The scientific advice would be to make sure you meet the building requirements. And in terms of enforcement, I would refer to the policy.’

Van Dissel also said he is not in favour of making face masks compulsory in schools, as has been mooted in Germany. ‘What we have to do is to prevent infections spreading at family gatherings,’ he said. ‘That total has to go down, because we want to give children the opportunity to go to school.’

Contact tracing

Van Dissel also said the decision by Amsterdam and Rotterdam health boards to reduce their workload in terms of contact tracing as ‘very worrying’.

‘To ensure our current approach is successful… we have to be successful in contact tracing,’ he said. So far, 333 clusters have been identified in the Netherlands, and 60% infections take place in the home environment.

MPs will hold a debate on the government’s coronavirus strategy on Wednesday.

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