SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of coronavirus infections reported in the last week fell for the first time in a month – but health officials said it was too early to tell if the current lockdown was working.
In the seven days to Tuesday 67,388 new cases were reported to the public health agency RIVM. The figure is 18.1% lower than the previous week, but that figure included around 6,000 cases that were reported late because of data processing problems.
The RIVM calculated that the underlying trend was a drop of 11.7%. Nearly 15% fewer tests were carried out during the holiday week, partly because several testing facilities closed on Sunday during Storm Bella.
The proportion of tests that were positive went down slightly from 13.7% to 13.0%.
The reproductive number R was calculated to be 1.15 on December 11, slightly lower than a week earlier, meaning that every 100 infected people will pass the virus on to 115 others.
If the figure is above 1 it indicates that cases are still increasing. RIVM virologist Aura Timen told NOS that the lower positive rate was a ‘bright spot’ but overall, the figures offered little to cheer two weeks after the government tightened the lockdown rules to close all non-essential shops, schools, and leisure facilities.
‘We had hoped to be able to see the effect of the lockdown today,’ Timen said. ‘We have indeed seen a fall in the number of new cases, but it’s been an unusual week with a long Christmas weekend and that may have affected people’s willingness to be tested.’
Cities below average
Around the regional health boards Twente had the highest concentration of positive tests, with 553.2 per 100,000 people, while Friesland had the lowest rate of 225.9. The three health boards including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague all had infection rates well below the national average, in contrast to the autumn when they were the major hotspots.
The daily figures showed a continuing decline in the number of infections but no sign of hospital admissions slowing down. Another 7,541 new cases were reported in the 24 hours up to 10am on Tuesday, bringing the average for the week down to 9,608.
There are currently 2,761 patients being treated for Covid-19, an increase of 181 since Monday, while another 26 people are in intensive care, bringing the number to 684.
The virus is also continuing to spread through nursing homes, with 792 locations reporting a new infection in the last two weeks compared to 699 a week ago. At the peak of the first wave in mid-April 828 nursing homes had at least one recent case.