Tuesday 19 October 2021

Officials watch coronavirus developments closely as schools go back

Photo: DutchNews.nl

While the number of positive coronavirus tests appears to have plateaued at between 17,000 and 18,000 a week, officials are concerned about a possible ‘calm before the storm’ in the autumn, news website Nu.nl reported on Wednesday.

The stabilisation was to be expected, Aura Timen, director of public health institute RIVM told the website. But this autumn, she said, a major effort will be needed to brake any increase in the number of positive tests.

‘It remains to be seen whether it will be a real wave, but there will be an increase, whatever happens,’ she said. ‘The summer holidays are just over and we will see in the coming weeks how much [coronavirus] we have imported from abroad,’ she said.

On Tuesday, the RIVM published new figures showing one in eight infections is linked to either a school or daycare centre – double the figure at the beginning of June.

The biggest age group in terms of new cases was that of 10 to 14-year-olds and this, said Timen, is an indication that reopening the schools will lead to a rise in infections.

‘It is good that children are being tested and that is what is recommended,’ she said. ‘That means people are being better protected, even if they are fully vaccinated.’

Just 31% of the over-11s have been vaccinated so far, but by the end of September, everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have been able to get jabbed, she said. ‘Until then, we still have to follow the basic rules, and there is a reason why we are doing this.’

Quarantine

Earlier this week, it emerged that the government’s coronavirus advisors may recommend changing the quarantine rules for primary schools, so that whole classes will not have to stay home if one pupil tests positive.

In secondary schools, only pupils who have intensive contact with an infected pupil have to stay home.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge is due to publish new guidelines on September 20 which will come into effect five days later.

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