The number of people who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 increased by 20% last week. The number of people who tested positive rose by 7%. The reproduction number also rose above 1. The number of COVID-19 infections in the Netherlands will not decrease until the R number is below 1. 

For the second week in a row, many more people went to get tested (+20%). This increase was observed in all age groups (Figure 1). The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 was also up by 7%, increasing to 31,984. The percentage of positive tests continued to decrease, dropping from 9.8% a week earlier to 8.9%* in the past week. Increased testing in the 0-12 age group is probably related to the opening of primary schools and childcare centres two weeks earlier. The stricter testing policy took effect along the reopening. Children in the same class as a pupil or teacher who tested positive for COVID-19 are now advised to get tested as well.

Aantal testen met uitslag (grijze balkjes) en percentage positief (rode lijn) per leeftijdscategorie per week.

 

Figure 1: Number of tests with results (grey bars) and percentage of positive tests (red line) per age category per week

Increase in symptoms

InfectionRadar showed an increase in the number of people with symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. This could be due to the start of hay fever season. During the week of 22 to 28 February, the percentage of InfectionRadar participants reporting COVID-19-like symptoms increased to 2.4%. One week earlier, this was 1.7% (purple line on Figure 2). In the same week, 29.3% of 313 Infection Radar participants with COVID-19-like symptoms said they thought it was due to hay fever. In the earlier weeks of 2021, that percentage was around 5% on average. However, even without including these people, the number of people reporting COVID-19-like symptoms increased (green line). On average, about 13,000 participants report their symptoms in InfectionRadar every week.

Percentage deelnemers dat COVID-19-klachten meldt op Infectieradar.

Figure 2: Percentage of participants reporting COVID-19 symptoms on InfectionRadar.
The dots show what percentage of the participants had symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. The lines show this percentage, but based on the averages per 5 days. 
Purple: everyone with COVID-19-like symptoms. 
Green: excluding the people who indicate that the symptoms were caused by hay fever.

Hospitals and nursing homes

The number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 last calendar week was about the same as the previous week, at 1,113 admissions. The number of intensive care admissions also remained stable. 224 people were admitted to the ICUS with COVID-19 in the last calendar week.

There was a slight decrease in the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the age category of 70 years and older (see Figure 3). An increase can be seen in almost all other age groups. 

The number of newly reported infections in nursing homes continued to decrease. This is an indicator for the initial beneficial effects of COVID-19 vaccination in the Netherlands. 

grafiek leeftijdsverdeling aantal meldingen

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Figure 3: Number of reported positive tests per age category per week.

Reproduction number R

The combined reproduction number rose to 1.14 (1.11 – 1.18) on 12 February, see Table 1. A reproduction number of 1.14 means that 100 people with COVID-19 will collectively infect another 114 people. Table 1 shows the reproduction number divided into the R number for the UK variant, the South African variant and the old variants. The South African variant is rare in the Netherlands, so the estimated R number has a high margin of uncertainty. The latest data from pathogen surveillance, including the prevalence of the different variants, can be found here.

Table 1. Reproduction numbers in the Netherlands for 12 February and 5 February.

  12 februari 2021 5 februari 2021
All infections (combined) 1,14 (1,11 - 1,18) 0,99 (0,96 - 1,02)
UK variant 1,26 (1,20 - 1,33) 1,14 (1,07 - 1,20)
South African variant 1,37 (1,12 - 1,61) Not available
Old variants 1,02 (0,96 - 1,07) 0.90 (0,85 - 0,94)

Follow the measures

Last week, the government announced that some of the measures it had previously implemented would be discontinued or relaxed. Relaxed measures may lead to more infections as the number of contact moments increases. For that reason, it is even more important to follow the basic measures as closely as possible. Avoid contact with others as much as possible. You can do this by not making plans to see other people, or as little as possible. If you do meet up with someone, stay 1.5 metres apart. Work from home if possible. Do not leave the house if you have any (mild) symptoms, except to get tested. Testing remains very important, even if your symptoms are mild. Together, we can ensure that we do not infect others. In most cases, you will have your test result within a day.

* Excluding results from large-scale testing in Bunschoten, Dronten and the Charlois neighbourhood of Rotterdam.  If the localised large-scale test results from these locations are included, the percentage of positive tests in the Netherlands is 8.8%; without the large-scale test results, the percentage of positive tests in 8.9%. The percentage of positive tests including large-scale testing is 7.0% (6.9% excluding those results) in Utrecht, 5.5% in Flevoland (7.6% excluding), and 9.9% in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region (10.7% excluding).