Thursday 29 September 2022

Omicron is a major cause for concern, Dutch health minister says

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has declined to comment on the likelihood of new coronavirus regulations being introduced to stem the spread of the Omicron variant but he is very concerned.

Government health advisors from the Outbreak Management Team were meeting on Friday to discuss the current situation and are working on possible new recommendations.

The advice will be sent to ministers at the weekend, when a decision will be taken about new measures, De Jonge said.

‘If it is necessary to brake the virus spread or delay it… then we will take those decisions,’ he said. ‘What we do know is that people who’ve had one or two jabs are not sufficiently protected against the new variant.’

A quarter of coronavirus cases in Amsterdam are now known to be Omicron.

The minister admitted that it is extremely busy at the regional health boards but said vaccination capacity is being scaled up rapidly. ‘If you can’t [make an appointment], there will be new slots tomorrow and again the next day,’ he said.

The government hopes that everyone will have had a booster vaccination by mid January.

Meanwhile, prime minister Mark Rutte said earlier he is not optimistic that free movement within the EU will remain an option over the holiday period. Italy, Portugal and Greece are now demanding travellers have a negative coronavirus test as well as a coronavirus pass to travel.

Travellers to the UK also require a negative test both to enter the country and to return to the Netherlands.

Hospitalisations

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus continues to decline. There are now 2,472 hospital patients, of whom 638 are on an IC ward.  Sixteen patients are also being treated in an IC ward in Germany.

A total of 15,433 new positive tests were reported to the public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Friday morning. However, it is unclear how accurate this figure is, given not everyone who is positive with a self-test is having a follow up test to make sure.

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