This should change the corona policy, recommend one hundred experts

Dutch corona policy should be more locally focused, communicated more clearly and tested more quickly. These are three main recommendations that a group of over a hundred experts are making to the Cabinet.

The results of the so-called Lessons Learned project have been announced tonight. From opinion pollster Maurice de Hond to De Correspondent-journalist Sanne Blauw: on nine main themes, scientists, chairmen of interest groups, professors, doctors, journalists and other experts have written down what they think has gone well over the past six months, but especially what needs to be improved on the corona policy.

Hundreds of pages

The result is a hundreds page file, in dozens of pdf-files. It was published shortly before the cabinet’s corona press conference on Tuesday night. The timing makes it difficult to determine how many of the critical advice has actually been adopted, or not.

In any case, the Cabinet seems to have listened to one main piece of advice. Namely: the more tailor-made the approach to a virus outbreak, the better. After all, from now on the situation and the related coronavirus measures will be assessed per region, writes Minister De Jonge in a letter to the Lower House about the recommendations.

In the press conference, the CDA minister announced more about the new, more regional approach:

Experts would also like to see the government’s corona dashboard improved. “If I go to the dashboard, I’ll get confused at best. At worst it frightens me,” writes data journalist Sanne Blauw. “The dashboard is full of meters, and there are only going to be more.”

That’s why she argues for a clearer indication on the website of the most important figures. She also believes that more context should be given: how did the data come about and why were certain choices made?

Unclear communication

Philippe Delespaul, Professor of Innovation at the GGZ at Maastricht University, would also like to see more transparency. “An important problem is the unclear communication between RIVM, the government and guidelines in which RIVM communication sometimes deviates greatly from the assessment of international experts. And this creates an inconsistent practice”

According to experts, communication has been inadequate, especially for vulnerable people and people with disabilities. The government has also underestimated the impact of the coronavirus measures on people with disabilities, argues Marian Stet of the Hartekamp Group. “To this day, spending money is a major problem. We don’t have enough square metres to offer all our clients day care at a distance of one and a half metres from each other”

Earlier testing

Experts also hope that there will not be another national ban on visits to nursing homes. From now on, an outbreak at such a location must be dealt with using local measures, writes the group of scientists and doctors. And don’t just let the Municipal Health Service carry out the testing policy, because, according to experts, it can’t cope with years of cutbacks on its own. They also want healthcare workers and other contact professions to be tested frequently and not to wait until they develop symptoms.

In view of the approaching autumn and winter, the Cabinet’s advice remains: only test in case of complaints, De Jonge emphasised at the press conference.

The Cabinet has asked the OMT which groups should be given priority if the testing capacity remains tight. It could then be the case, for example, that care workers and teachers are given priority. It is already clear that staff in nursing homes will from now on be tested on a weekly basis in the event of an outbreak, regardless of whether they show any symptoms. In this article you can read how the corona policy in nursing homes is going to change.

“The insights and criticism of all the experts have helped us to focus on what can be done better,” writes the care minister in a response to the Lesson Learned dossier. “Very valuable, so we’re going to work with that.”

The experts were involved in the process at the request of the Lower House of Parliament, following a motion from the SP and PvdA.