SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A further 1,753 positive coronavirus tests were registered with the public health board RIVM in the past 24 hours, as the government and regional officials finalise a new package of measures to combat the spread of the virus.
The increase has taken the number of positive tests up to almost nine per 100,000, which is well into the government’s red warning zone. The reproduction rate is also now at 1.38.
However, hospital admissions remain low – on Wednesday afternoon 245 people were being treated in hospital, of whom 54 were in intensive care. Youngsters continue to account for most of the new cases, and the new measures which will be announced on Friday are likely to centre on university towns.
At the same time, health service inspectors say in a new report that regional health boards, test labs and health ministry advisors are not ready to cope with a sharp rise in coronavirus testing or a second wave.
Although the health boards have done a good job in setting up the testing and contact tracing systems, there is a lack of overall control, the inspectors say. The report is based on research carried out in July and August, before the sharp increase in infections and testing.
The health boards faced ‘an enormous challenge’ to increase capacity, the report said. The inspectors estimate that 55,000 tests a day will be needed from November, rising to 85,000 next February.
Currently some 35,000 tests are carried out on a daily basis. Ministers have already warned that it will be several weeks before testing can be ramped up again, and they are looking at giving priority to teachers and people working in some parts of the healthcare system.