Friday 03 February 2023

The Netherlands is officially in the middle of a flu epidemic

Flu thermometer.The Netherlands is now officially in the grip of a flu epidemic, public health institute RIVM has confirmed.

In addition, a number of other respiratory illnesses, including the common cold and coronavirus, are doing the rounds, the agency said on Wednesday.

Normally, experts describe flu as an epidemic if 58 in 100,000 people visit their doctor with symptoms and at least 10% of GP patients are confirmed to have flu. Given the similarity between flu and coronavirus symptoms, it is now difficult to establish exact numbers, the RIVM said.

This is because more people are using self tests to check for coronavirus and so fewer people are likely to be visiting their doctors to establish what is wrong with them, the RIVM said.

‘Even though we have not reached the 58 in 100,000 level… there has been a sharp increase in the number of people with flu-like symptoms at recording stations,’ the RIVM said. ‘And the RIVM is finding flu viruses in an increasing number of samples taken from these patients.’

The number of cases is also likely to increase over the Christmas period when people get together to celebrate, the RIVM said. The number of cases of coronavirus are also likely to increase over the holidays.

RIVM epidemiologist Rianne van Gageldonk told NPO radio that people who have flu symptoms should be particularly careful during the festivities, ‘especially when it comes to contact with the elderly or people with underlying health problems.’

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