weekly figuresThe omikron variant of the coronavirus is raging through our country like a whirlwind. More than 201,000 positive tests have been detected in the past seven days, an increase of 77 percent compared to the previous week. Experts are not surprised at the new record. “Due to the high infectivity of omikron, this is not an unexpected increase. This will continue for a while,” virologist Bert Niesters told this site.
There is still a decrease in the number of hospital admissions, although it is leveling off. Last week, a total of 873 corona patients ended up in hospital, a decrease of 11 percent compared to a week earlier. In the last weeks of December, RIVM reported a fall in the number of new hospital admissions of 33 percent and 26 percent respectively.
Although the decline is leveling off, omikron has not yet led to an explosive increase in the number of hospital admissions. “We will therefore have to think carefully about how we can relax slowly and look for measures that reduce infections, but also allow life to pass through healthy,” responds field epidemiologist Amrish Baidjoe.
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Boosting in the Netherlands
The World Health Organization (WHO) takes into account that at least half of the European population could become infected with the omikron variant in the next six to eight weeks. This expectation is partly reflected in our country. Last week, RIVM reported that it had received 113,554 reports of positive tests in seven days. That was almost 35 percent more than the week before. Now the figure has almost doubled in a week.
For the first time since the epidemic started almost two years ago, the number now exceeds 200,000. The figure means that 1 in every 88 Dutch people has been told that the virus has been diagnosed in the past week. The reason for this is the omikron variant, which has been dominant in the Netherlands since the end of December. Dominant means that more than half of all established infections are that virus version.
“We see that the ultimate effect of the infections depends very much on the level of immunity in society,” explains field epidemiologist Amrish Baidjoe. “By natural infection and vaccinations. For now, it is especially important how many people have already had a booster. That is not yet very high in the Netherlands compared to other countries, partly due to the late start.”
Text continues below this chart about reinfections. Of all the people who tested positive for the corona virus last week, one in eight had been infected before. In 13 percent of the cases it is a reinfection
How this will translate into hospitalizations in the coming weeks remains a mystery, Baidjoe says. Of the total number of infections this week, more than half was found among people aged 15 to 34 years. They usually don’t end up in the hospital that quickly. Nevertheless, the LCPS (National Coordination Center for Patient Distribution) expects the influx of new patients to increase in mid-January. To spread the pressure on hospitals as much as possible, corona patients can be relocated. On Sunday, three patients were transported to another region.
“We are now in a situation with stricter measures, where other countries are less strict,” said Baidjoe. “You see that infections are rising sharply everywhere, but that does not translate into many more hospital admissions. That said, the pressure in care is still high, there is a lot of delayed care. So we will have to think carefully about how we can relax in the future.”
Top virologist Marion Koopmans says that the explosive increase is in line with ‘the picture we see in the countries around us’. “The question now is how many of these people will become seriously ill. We know that’s less than with delta, especially with vaccinated people, but given the large numbers, that could still lead to a big wave. There is a lot of uncertainty in the current estimates, simply because this virus behaves so differently and certain data has to be collected again for the models.”
According to Koopmans, a booster shot is ‘really necessary to get protection against infection’. ,,And that in turn helps to dampen a wave. You already hear outages because people are sick and have to be isolated at home. That will increase. It will be important to look at the longer term, as the new minister has already announced. We are not yet rid of this virus, there will be more waves, maybe new variants. That also means thinking about how you are going to ‘live with covid’.”
Medical microbiologist Jean-Luc Murk adds that omikron can hardly be stopped, ‘not even with strict measures’. That is why it is important that many people are vaccinated, in combination with a booster. Ultimately, we will all be infected at least once. It will be exciting for hospitals in the coming weeks, because we do not know whether the high infection figures will lead to many more admissions. We are taking that into account for the time being.”
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As the number of positive tests increases, so does the reproduction number. That number indicates how quickly the virus is spreading. It now stands at 1.26, the highest level since early November, but that’s the average for all variants combined. The reproduction number for the omikron variant is 1.63. That means that 100 people infect an average of 163 others, who in turn transmit the variant to 266 people. They then infect 433 others. The number of cases is increasing rapidly.
Meanwhile, the GGDs are very busy with testing. Nearly 590,000 people went to a test street last week to find out if they were infected, up from about 350,000 in the previous two weeks. More than a third of all those people turned out to actually have the virus. More than 34 percent were positive, the highest percentage ever.
The cabinet will decide on Friday how to proceed with the corona measures. Kuipers did not yet want to say whether a press conference will also be held, as always happened under the previous corona minister Hugo de Jonge. Tomorrow the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) will meet again, their advice will then be sent to the cabinet.
Figures about young people and the cause of infection
The number of new corona cases is rising explosively among young people. The number of positive tests has more than doubled among people who are 15 to 30 years old. RIVM registered more than 200,000 positive tests in the past week. These include 62,752 people in their twenties. That equates to one in every three new cases.
Among the positive tests are 36,712 people who are 20, 21, 22, 23 or 24 years old. That is 167 percent more than a week earlier. Among 15 to 19-year-olds, the number of cases rose by 170 percent. In the group aged 25 to 29, the increase was 104 percent.
A decrease in the number of positive tests can be seen in the elderly. For example, the number of cases among people in their seventies fell by 13 percent and among people in their eighties by 4 percent.
More than 2,200 people who tested positive for the coronavirus last week contracted the virus while attending a party. Nearly 1,700 people have been infected during a holiday trip. And the actual numbers may well be higher. Because so many infections are detected, the source and contact researchers hardly manage to ask questions to the people who have tested positive.
Most of the people whose source of infection has been identified has been infected at home. One person became infected, took the virus home and then infected the other family members or roommates. More than half of the outdated infections happened this way. Just over a quarter contracted the virus by visiting someone or by receiving visitors at home. For both groups this is a slight decrease compared to last week.
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