RIVM director Jaap van Dissel and Ernst Kuipers of the National Network Acute Care are very concerned about the British variant of the coronavirus. Now around 100 infections with this variant have been detected in the Netherlands, but English and Irish figures show that the variant can spread at lightning speed. As a result, the question is whether the current lockdown helps to control the number of infections.
“ You just dont want that English variant,” said Van Dissel in a meeting with the House of Representatives. “And when he comes, you want to be prepared for that.” He pointed out that, despite the British lockdown, the number of cases with the new mutant continues to increase there.
According to Van Dissel, in order to suppress the British mutation, it may be necessary to tighten the rules further. “Somehow” the number of visits should be limited, he said, according to him necessary to “get hold of” the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Outbreak Management Team will therefore look for additional options. Van Dissel mentioned draconian measures and referred to the situation in England, where people are only allowed to go outside for specific situations. “There the lockdown is more stringent than in the Netherlands. There are still steps in it that you could take.”
Overloaded hospitals such as in Great Britain can also happen in the Netherlands, warned Ernst Kuipers. “If you get a spread that goes as fast as in England, there is no care system that can handle it. Neither in Germany, nor in England nor in the Netherlands,” he says. “Somewhere you run into the limit.”
Kuipers says that no care system can handle the British situation:
Quickly increase the hospital capacity massively, Kuipers said. The biggest bottleneck to increase the number of IC beds is qualified staff. “Those people need to be well trained,” Kuipers said. “The shortage is not in the walls, the beds or the infusion pumps, but in experienced staff.” According to Kuipers, the number of IC beds can go up to 1700. “But somewhere there is a limit.”
Van Dissel also said that it does not appear that the British variant is more contagious for young people than for others. “At all ages, it leads to a higher percentage of cases,” he said. “I think the image was somewhat distorted at first. Some of the information came from the period when schools allowed a little more, while outside schools there were already measures.”
He does not expect the British variant to become dominant in the Netherlands within four to six weeks. “If you see how quickly it has spread in Ireland and England, it was within a month. But that was without measures. In the end, the virus can only pass if relevant contact occurs. “I would be very disappointed if it were to happen in such a short time, so I dont expect it.”
The RIVM director expects the British variant to displace the current variant in the long run, but he did not mention a period. He also said that there are no indications that the variant leads to more hospitalizations or mortality. But because of the increased number of sick people, eventually more people get into the hospital.
Figures are falling now
The figures are heading a little in the right direction at the moment. Yesterday, the RIVM said that the effect of the lockdown is starting to become visible, although it is too slow. Ernst Kuipers of the LCPS also expects a “gradual decline” in the number of new corona admissions in hospitals over the next three weeks. If this continues, Kuipers predicts about 2000 covid patients in the hospital on January 31.” That is only if the British variant does not get the upper hand.
According to Van Dissel, the percentage of positive tests is still too high. “Its 12 to 13 percent and that should be about half,” he said.