The increase in the reported number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks was followed last week by an increase in the number of hospital and ICU admissions. The number of new patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in the past week increased by 20% compared to the week before that. There was also a significant increase in the number of new COVID-19 patients (+ 24%) admitted to the intensive care units, compared to a week earlier. Nursing homes and residential care centres also saw a significant increase in the number of locations with infections (61%).

In the week of 9-15 December, 58,412 new people who tested positive for COVID-19 were reported by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). This is an increase of more than 15,000 newly reported infections (36%) compared to the week before, when 43,103 new infections were reported. The number of positive COVID-19 tests reported today and yesterday is lower than the actual number, because the GGD registration system has been overloaded since Sunday. As a result, positive tests are reported more slowly to RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment . The percentage of people who tested positive for COVID-19 has risen to 12.0%. That percentage was 11.6% in the week before. The reproduction number has risen and is now above 1.

Hospital admissions and ICU admissions

Pressure on the healthcare system is increasing due to the large number of patients who have to be admitted due to COVID-19. 1,480 new hospital admissions were reported in the week of 9 to 15 December. That is 251 more admissions than in the previous week, when 1,229 people were admitted to hospital (+20%). In the past week, there was a 24% increase in the number of people admitted to the intensive care units. Patients who are admitted to the ICU due to COVID-19 spend an average of 15 days there.

Figure 1: (A) Number of new suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients per day in Dutch* nursing wards. (A) Number of new suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients per day in Dutch* intensive care units.

*Including admissions to German ICUs when the Dutch ICUs were over capacity.

Reproduction number and number of contagious people

The reproduction number R has increased. On 27 November, it was 1.24 (lower limit 1.21 – 1.27 upper limit) based on the reported number of people who tested positive for COVID-19. The reproduction number was 1 in the week before that. A reproduction number higher than 1 indicates that the virus is spreading more, but the value also depends on changes in testing policy and willingness to get tested. If more people are allowed to be tested or want to be tested, the reproduction number may temporarily be higher. For this reason, RIVM also calculates the reproduction numbers based hospital and ICU admissions, which are not influenced by willingness to get tested or changes in testing policy. These reproduction numbers are somewhat less precise and are not provided as quickly, but they do give a good impression of how fast the virus is spreading. The reproduction numbers based on hospital admissions and on ICU admissions are also above 1. On 27 November, there were more than 90,000 people with COVID-19 in the Netherlands who were contagious (lower limit 64,000, upper limit 117,000).

Nearly 470,000 people tested

From 7 to 13 December, nearly 470,000 tests were administered in the test lanes of the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). That is 130,000 more tests than the week before, when the GGDs tested nearly 340,000 people for COVID-19. The results of 439,514 tests are known. 52,813 (12.0%) of those people tested positive for COVID-19.

The capacity in the test lanes is currently sufficient. The time between making an appointment and receiving the test result of a test in the GGD test lanes has gone up somewhat in the past week. In most cases, someone who telephones via 0800-1202 or makes an appointment online will receive the results of the COVID-19 test within 41 hours; last week that interval was 34 hours.

Age distribution

The reported number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants has increased in all age categories. The highest number of reported positive tests per 100,000 people was in the age groups of 13-17 years and 18-24 years (figure 2).

 

Grafiek 15 december

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Figure 2. Number of reported positive tests per age category per week.

Nursing homes and residential care centres

The number of nursing home locations and residential care centres with at least 1 confirmed COVID-19 infection has also increased in the past week, rising from 97 in the week of 2 to 8 December to 156 in the past week. A nursing home or residential care centre is counted as a ‘new location’ if no new patients have been reported at least 28 days prior to the positive test result.

Figure 3. Number of new nursing home and residential care centre locations with at least one laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection from 31 August 2020 on.

Follow the measures

It continues to be important to always get tested if you have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19 – even if you think it might just be a common cold. To prevent the virus from continuing to spread, it is important for everyone to comply with the measures and the basic rules. Stay at least 1.5 metres from others. Stay at home as much as possible and minimise the number of people you have contact with. Work from home. If you have symptoms, stay home and get tested. Wash your hands frequently, especially when you arrive somewhere from outside.

Open data

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment publishes open data that is accessible to everyone every day around 15.15 hrs (3:15 PM). **The estimates for R from longer than 14 days ago are reliable. An estimated R based on data from less than 14 days ago involves more uncertainties. That is why we always look at the R from 14 days ago.

  Last week1 Two weeks ago2
Reports of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2    
Newly reported COVID-19 infections 58,412 43,103
Number of hospital admissions to nursing wards (Source: NICE) 1,480 1,229
Number of hospital admissions to Intensive Care (Source: NICE) 222 179
Deaths 398 338
     
GGD test lanes per calendar week3 week 50 week 49
Total number of tests of which results are known 439,514 321,432
Number of people who tested positive 52,813 37,475
Percentage of positive tests 12.06% 11.7%

Not all of the reported hospital admissions or deaths occurred within the last 24 hours

¹GGD reports to RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment between 9 December 10:01 and 15 december 10:00 as published 14 December 2020 in the weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 in the Netherlands.
²GGD reports to RIVM between 1 December 10:01 and 8 December 10:00, as published 1 December 2020 in the weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 in the Netherlands.
³As published on 15 December 2020 in the weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 in the Netherlands. The figures from the GGD test lanes were reported during the past week and current week, and may be updated to include any test results provided later.