After weeks of warnings, experts say: ‘It’s going pretty well for now’

Lately there’s been a lot of warnings. “Things are not going well in our country”, said Prime Minister Rutte last week. Now there seems to be a turnaround: everything indicates that the RIVM’s weekly figures this afternoon show a decline in the number of positive coronavirus tests. “It’s going pretty well”, experts conclude. According to them, the situation seems manageable, although there is still concern about the autumn.

What causes the decline is difficult to say, because many measures are taken at the same time. “The combination of measures often works, but we don’t know exactly what it is – you don’t get it right either,” says physician-microbiologist Jan Kluytmans. “It’s not so important to know exactly why something happens, as long as it goes in the right direction without draconian measures.”

Previous to the drop in last week’s figures, there were warnings to the population. From experts who rang the bell, to Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Public Health De Jonge who held press conferences in the middle of the holiday season. The spread of the virus occurred mainly in the private sphere, which is why stricter measures were announced. In particular the advice not to organise any more drinks or parties at home for more than six people.

No elderly

“With this wake-upcall and relatively simple measures, it seems that the number of infections can be brought back to a lower level”, says Kluytmans.

For the time being, they are not yet spreading the virus on a large scale among the older generation. “You see a small increase in 50 to 60-year-olds, their parents’ generation. But the old people, who at first mostly died, now generally stay out of harm’s way. I think that’s because that group is still keeping their distance.”

Nautumn

For now, therefore, the virus seems to be under control; vulnerable groups are not hit above average and pressure on hospitals remains limited. “The development in hospital admissions, that’s the curve I am monitoring the most,” says doctor-microbiologist Marc Bonten. “Because it showed whether vulnerable elderly people are adequately protected. And that curve is fortunately stably low.”

But the experts are keeping a close eye on us, because we’re not there yet. “I don’t care what’s going on,” says Rosendaal. “But I have to say, not yet. You can get exponential growth fast.”

“We’re still in August,” Kluytmans says. “Cold viruses don’t normally become active until October, November. I watch with excitement how the virus develops in the coming months, because it is unusual for such a virus to be active in the summer. I can’t predict the future, but that worries me.”