What is the COVID19 Strategy of the Dutch Government?

Roel M. Hogervorst

2020/08/04

I am a bit confused about the strategy of the Dutch Government concerning COVID19. Let me preface this with: I am not a specialist, I do not have answers and I will definately not tell others how to do their job. I think the RIVM ( Institute for health and environment) and the GGDs (Regional health services) are doing a great job. I wouldn’t know how to judge them, and so I will not.

I’m seeing news messages that the number of confirmed COVID19 cases is going up again.

Spread throughout the country, there is an increase in the number of small local outbreaks (clusters) of three or more related infections. There are currently 133 active COVID-19 clusters in the Netherlands. The average size of these clusters is 5.9 people (range: 3-23). Most infections still take place within the home. The number of infection clusters due to contact with other family members, friends, at parties, in the workplace or other leisure activities is increasing.

But I’m not seeing any corresponding measures. The number of cases rises again. This leads me to two things I do not understand:

Looking at the graphs the number of cases was very low in the start of July (July 6th), why didn’t we continue with strict measures until the number was close to zero? If there are less cases, any doubling would have a lower effect and it is way easier to trace the contacts again.

The second thing I don’t get, is why there are no extra measures in effect in reaction to the rising numbers. Or a regional lockdown, it is clear the most cases are in Zuid Holland. It’s almost like a reverse gas price to oil price reaction: if the oil prices go up, gas goes up immediately, but if the oil prices go down, for some reason it takes a while for the gas prices to go down. Similarly it seems that when the number of confirmed COVID19 cases went down the lockdown measures went less strict quickly, but not when it flairs up in the other direction?

So what is the strategy?

image of question mark on paper

The Dutch government says itself:

De Nederlandse corona-aanpak is erop gericht het virus maximaal onder controle te houden, de zorg niet te overbelasten en kwetsbare mensen in de samenleving te beschermen.

Which roughly translates to:

Our goal is to maximise control over the virus, make sure healthcare is not overwhelmed and to protect vulnerable people in society.

Other things that are going on now:

I guess closing down visits to bars and restaurants would be the first move to reduce transmissions of COVID19. So are we:

Or is it something else? Looking at the english report from last week (there will be a new one today):

In addition to an increase in the number of infections, there is also a shift in age structure. In recent weeks, we have seen a stronger increase among younger age groups than among older age groups.

So it is mostly in younger people (20-29 & 30-39 years old) that cases have increased. Well, that is not entirely true, it is happening in the 50-59 bracket too. So it is not just young people partying.

So what is the strategy here? I don’t know, the future might tell us more.

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Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash