Nivel is working with RIVM on screening for people with flu-like symptoms. Working together, they record data at 40 general practitioner (GP) practices to see how often people contact their doctor with such symptoms and which viruses are causing their symptoms. Since early February, this study has also included testing for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
GPs register patients with flu-like symptoms
Coordinated by the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel), a national network of GP practices records the number of patients visiting their GP with flu-like symptoms every week. Samples are taken from the throat and nose of some of these patients. The GPs send these samples to RIVM. The GP practices that have monitoring stations are spread throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas. Together, these practices see about 0.8% of the Dutch population.
RIVM investigates whether influenza virus is present in the sample. RIVM also uses the same samples to identify other common viral agents of acute respiratory tract infections. The coronavirus is now also included in the screening. This helps us learn more about flu viruses, and in this case also about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, the disease that it causes. We can learn how often it occurs, which symptoms are common and how the virus may vary. We also share the results with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization.
RIVM can keep track of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, monitoring how often and where people are infected with COVID-19 and what symptoms they have. This helps us achieve a clearer overview of the disease.