SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Coronavirus infections have increased for the second week running, but the rise was partly the result of wider testing, according to the public health agency RIVM’s latest weekly update.
The RIVM said the latest calculation of the reproductive rate at 1.14 was particularly concerning, as a value above 1 indicates that the virus is spreading faster than people are recovering.
Susan van den Hof, head of the RIVM’s Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance, told NOS: ‘This looks like the beginning of the third wave, because the number of new infections cases is rising again.
It’s what we expected with the arrival of the South African variant and the British variant.’
In the seven days to March 2 the number of positive cases was 7% higher than the previous week, with 31,984 people testing positive. The total number of tests taken increased by 20%, while 8.9% of tests were positive – the lowest rate since September.
The rise in infections was heavily concentrated in the under-20 population, where there was a 25% increase in recorded cases.
Age groups between 20 and 50 saw smaller increases of between 3.5% and 11%, while over-80s experienced double-digit declines, suggesting vaccines are having an impact.
All variants over 1
All types of coronavirus had an R value above 1 on February 12, from 1.02 for the established strain to 1.37 for the newest variant that was first detected in South Africa.
The B-117 strain, also known as the ‘British variant’, had an R value of 1.26. Hospital numbers were broadly similar to last week, with 1,133 new admissions, while 224 people were transferred to intensive care, a drop of 8%.
Another 308 deaths were recorded, 26% lower than the previous week’s figure of 413.
Among the 25 safety board regions the infection rate ranged from 108.7 per 100,000 people in Gelderland-Midden to 332.7 in Noord-Holland-Noord. The latter figure reflects an explosion in cases around the town of Hoorn, where 1% of the population has tested positive in the last seven days.
The first death from coronavirus has also been announced on the island of Schiermonnikoog, which was the last place in the Netherlands to lose its corona-free status in October.
In the daily figures for Tuesday another 4,032 positive tests were confirmed, below the seven-day average but 6.2% higher than last Tuesday. The number of patients in hospital increased by 69 to 1,984, of whom 540 are being treated in intensive care.