Sticking to the current basic coronavirus rules and so reducing the infection rate is the only way to prevent a full lockdown, government health advisors say.
The advice is so clear that ‘the only way’ is written out in capitals in the latest recommendations to the cabinet made by the Outbreak Management Team, broadcaster NOS reported.
The basic rules – testing if you have symptoms, keeping 1.5 metres distance and wearing face masks – are only being followed less than 50% of the time, the OMT said. That, in turn, means that it is very unclear if the R factor can be reduced to below 1, which means fewer infections.
In addition, the OMT said that the cabinet had decided not to follow all its previous recommendations, such as reducing domestic travel to essential journeys only, and closing cafes and bars at 6pm, rather than 8pm.
The OMT is not recommending new measures, even though hospital admissions continue to rise, because, it says, the current measures have the potential to have a greater impact on the number of contacts.
On Monday, prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge held an impromptu session with the press in which they also urged people to follow the basic rules.
The next formal press conference is scheduled for December 3. But with infections rising by more than 50% in the last week and more than 2,400 patients in hospital, the cabinet is coming under pressure not to wait until next Friday’s press conference to bring in stricter measures.
The OMT has also been asked by the cabinet to assess the likely impact of moving to a 2G system, where only people who have either been vaccinated or recently recovered from coronavirus are admitted to certain locations, such as cafes.
The OMT said that the coronavirus pass – the QR code – is ‘not a measure to prevent the spread of the virus… in the way that the basic and collective rules are’. However, the OMT said, 2G will lead to 50% fewer infections and 82% fewer hospital admissions than 3G, in which people who have tested negative for coronavirus can also get a QR code.
Legislation to make the introduction of a 2G system was introduced in the lower house of parliament on Monday.
Parliament is divided on whether to introduce the 2G system. Some parties want to extend the CovidCheck pass to workplaces and non-essential shops, while others, such as the ChristenUnie, argue that universal testing – the so-called 1G system – would be fairer
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