While the news is completely dominated by the war in Ukraine, the corona virus is still breaking records every day. The number of infections continues to rise today. The good news: at the moment, this will not lead to uncontrollable situations in the healthcare system.
In the past week, one ‘milestone’ was reached within the corona area. Never before has such a large proportion of people in the test streets of GGD, for example, tested positive: 70 percent. And never before has such a large proportion of the population had ‘corona-like’ complaints: 5.5 percent, according to RIVM’s Infection Radar. Also not seen before: the virus was diagnosed in more than 1,250 nursing homes in the past month. During the first, second and all other waves, this number was always lower.
In the past, all of this would have led to big headlines and heated discussions on social media, but not now. It is, of course, war, but also: All those infections do not yet lead to uncontrollable conditions in the hospitals. Since the relaxation in late January, the number of IC beds occupied by corona patients has even dropped somewhat: from more than 200 then to 170 now. In mid-December, there were almost four times as many.
The number of regular hospital beds that one with corona lies on rises slightly from more than 800 in mid-January to 1460 today. In December there were more than two thousand.
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On average, about ten Dutch people still die of corona every day since the turn of the year, according to the official census from RIVM. In the figures from Statistics Netherlands, which monitor whether mortality in the Netherlands is higher than expected, these figures no longer have a significant effect. Since the beginning of January, there has been no more so-called excess mortality in our country: the number of deaths is in line with a ‘normal’ winter.
at home ill
Immunity – through vaccination and infection – and a milder omicron variant appear to ensure that corona is increasingly reminiscent of influenza. Most people who are infected are ill at home – which results in a shortage of jobs, also in the health care system. Due to the high absenteeism, the general care is taken up less energetically than previously hoped.
On Wednesday, the RIVM reported 74,325 new infections, another increase. The high number of infections is the calculated consequence of the easing implemented in January and February. Winter sports also stand out as a cause – a third of the people who were abroad before a positive test came back from Austria.
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The influence of the carnival is even more apparent. You can use a ruler to draw a line from Sluis to Stadskanaal on the map of the Netherlands. To the right of that line, almost all RIVM municipalities have a dark red color, meaning that more than 1 in 40 residents have passed a positive test in the past week. Relatively speaking, the number of infected in carnival municipalities is now three to five times higher than in e.g. North Holland.
Vaccines: for target groups
Like the virus, the vaccination campaign is beginning to resemble that of influenza. The mass vaccination is now behind us. About 50,000 to 100,000 shots are still taken every week, at the top of the booster campaign there were almost two million. In total, about 34 million vaccine doses have been administered since the beginning of the corona crisis.
It has now started to boost the over-seventies for the second time. This target group consists of approximately 2.5 million people. In addition to people over the age of seventy, residents of nursing homes, adults with Down syndrome and adults with a severe immune disorder also receive an invitation.
The government has also said goodbye to the term ‘booster’ and is now talking about a repeated injection. Later in the month, it will be investigated whether people under seventy should also be eligible for a fourth shot. There is currently no reason for this, partly because the omicron variant produces milder symptoms.
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Has the danger of corona completely disappeared? New. Vulnerable people, for example the group where a vaccine does not work well, are still very afraid of the virus, especially now that there are so many infectious people around.
Another risk factor is the lung-covid or post-covid syndrome – a condition that now affects at least tens of thousands of Dutch people. It is still unclear to what extent omikron can also lead to long-term complaints. The variant has been dominant in our country for almost three months now.
The question is, after all, which variant will become dominant after omicron, and whether our immunity will protect us as well from serious illness in a few months as it does now.
The outbreak management team will meet on Friday to discuss possible phasing out of the existing measures. Currently, there is still partial homework advice, test duty at events with more than 500 visitors and oral duty in public transport. Minister Ernst Kuipers will on Tuesday announce what is left of this package.
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