Infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are continuing to decrease in the Netherlands. This trend is also reflected in hospitals and nursing homes. The coronavirus thermometer is therefore shifting to status 1. The impact of SARS-CoV-2 on society and the healthcare system is currently limited. The basic recommendations to prevent COVID-19 from spreading contributed to this outcome. These recommendations will remain relevant throughout the winter. They also help against other viruses that often cause illness in winter, resulting in pressure on healthcare and society.
In recent weeks, the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the Netherlands have been decreasing. This trend was observed in the Infection Radar survey, in sewage surveillance and in the positive test results reported by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). The infection figures are now at about the same level as in the period between the summer wave and the autumn wave in 2022. In hospitals and nursing homes, it is clear that occupancy and new admissions due to COVID-19 have also been decreasing for a number of weeks. As a result, RIVM advises returning the coronavirus thermometer to status 1.
Basic recommendations remain important: vaccinate, test, stay home
Status 1 on the coronavirus thermometer indicates that the virus currently has limited impact on society and the healthcare system. But COVID-19 is not gone yet. Every day, thousands of people are still getting COVID-19 and dozens of them are ending up in hospital as a result. For that reason, the basic recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus are still important – especially getting vaccinated, testing if you have symptoms, and staying home after testing positive. This is particularly important because the Netherlands will also face other respiratory infections in the next few months, such as influenza (seasonal flu) and RSV, alongside COVID-19, which may lead to increased pressure on healthcare and society.
Research by the RIVM Corona Behavioural Unit shows that the majority of the study participants are still testing in the event of symptoms, and self-isolating if they test positive for COVID-19. This helps to limit the number of infections, and will continue to be important in the upcoming period, even when the coronavirus thermometer is at status 1. Vaccination also continues to be important. The recommendation is to get the repeat vaccination against COVID-19, especially for people who have a higher risk of developing severe illness, for example those aged 60 years and older. The repeat vaccination reduces the risk of ending up in hospital or ICU due to COVID-19 by almost threefold.