We are learning more and more about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease COVID-19, caused by the virus. On this page, you will find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) and everything we know about the coronavirus so far.

Frequently asked questions

When can we return to a more normal life? What factors are being considered?

That is difficult to say. While the reported number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 is currently decreasing, the number of reports is still too high. We are also concerned about the coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom. With the continuing increase of the UK variant, we are essentially facing two separate COVID-19 epidemics. One epidemic involving the variant that was already present in the Netherlands, in which infections are decreasing, and another epidemic involving the UK variant, in which infections are increasing. More infections with the ‘new’ UK variant will eventually also lead to higher numbers of hospital admissions and deaths. This would mean a significant increase in pressure on the healthcare system, rather than a decrease. As a result, we will have to hold on for now. At the same time, glimmers of light are also emerging. Thanks to the vaccinations, more and more people are protected against the virus.

Is any research being done on the role of viral spread among and by children in this pandemic?

Initiated by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment , various studies are being conducted on the role that children play in the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Contagiousness increases with age. In general, the younger the children, the less significant the role they play in spreading the virus. Do children pass on the UK variant of the virus more easily? Transmission of the UK variant is probably faster and more extensive than the former variant. Read more about children and the virus

How important is ventilation in preventing the spread of the virus?

Good ventilation is very important. When you are indoors with other people, it is important to ventilate the room well. Good ventilation is necessary for a healthy and pleasant indoor climate. It also helps to limit transmission of respiratory infections, such as COVID-19. Read more about ventilation

New testing methods such as a breathalyser were being discussed. Are they still being developed?

Various tests are currently used, including the PCR test and the (rapid) antigen test. In addition to these two testing methods, tests are also being developed that are based on less frequently used principles, such as the breath test or breathalyser (electronic nose). They are already being used in some places. It is like a first screening. This type of test is mainly suitable for excluding the possibility that you are currently carrying the virus. Read more about testing

Where can I find information about the night-time curfew?

A night-time curfew applies throughout the Netherlands from 23 January on. People can only be outdoors between 21.00 and 4.30 if they have a valid reason. More information about the curfew on Government.nl.

What is the Netherlands doing in response to the deaths of vulnerable elderly people in Norway?  

European research has been launched in response to the reports of deaths in Norway among very frail elderly people following vaccination.  The current events in Norway are no reason to change the vaccination schedule in the Netherlands. We are of course following developments closely. In the Netherlands, doctors assess whether a person of any age, old or young, can be vaccinated. All side-effects are reported to and investigated by the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lab.

Will the vaccine also work against the virus variant circulating in the United Kingdom?

There are currently no indications that the vaccine would be less effective against the virus variant in the UK. Read more about the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Can I get tested for COVID-19 without symptoms?

From 1 December on, other recommendations apply to a limited group of higher-risk people: if you have been in quarantine for 5 days (after your last contact with someone with COVID-19), you can get tested. 97% of the contacts that developed symptoms did so within 7 days. The virus can be detected with a PCR test 1 to 2 days before the symptoms start.

Can I get tested after a COVID-19 infection once I am symptom-free again? 

(For example as a declaration for your work that you no longer have COVID-19).
Without symptoms there is no point in getting tested for COVID-19. This also applies if you have had the coronavirus and are symptom-free again.
Read more about testing and COVID-19

When am I a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, and therefore need to go into quarantine?

  • If you were less than 1.5 metres apart from someone with COVID-19 for longer than 15 minutes
  • If someone with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes in your face
  • If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, but are not a close contact, you do not have to follow any exceptional rules. However, do monitor your health.
  • A household member could also be a close contact, but the rules for those contacts are different than for other close contacts.

How do I find out if I am a close contact of someone who has COVID-19?

  • If the person with COVID-19 reports the infection to the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD), in which case the GGD will contact you
  • If your own contacts notify you about their infection
  • If you have installed the CoronaMelder app, you could be notified.

What should I do if I am a close contact of someone who has COVID-19?

  • Follow the rules for close contacts and stay home for 10 days after your last contact with the infected person. Do not go to work, do not go shopping and do not use public transport to travel.
  • Monitor your health closely.
  • If you develop symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, then get tested.
  • No symptoms for 10 days? Then you can go outside again after that.

What role do secondary school students play in the spread of the virus?

There is an increased number of infections at all ages. That includes children, teens and young adults. Yet children play a minor role in spreading the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is less common in children and they spread the virus less often. The number of infections in children and how contagious they are do increase as they get older. The virus is often spread outside of school, during intensive contact in their free time with friends or classmates. Infection at school and in the classroom is limited.

I have schoolchildren. How likely am I to get infected?

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is mainly spread between adults and from adult family members to children. The spread of COVID-19 among children or from children to adults is less common. In general, the younger the children, the less significant the role they play in spreading the virus. Read more about the spread of the virus.

Even at home, it is important to follow the basic recommendations as much as possible, such as hygiene rules, and to get children older than 13 years tested if they show any symptoms.

Why are classmates not quarantined if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

Children play a minor role in spreading the virus. COVID-19 is less common in children and they spread the virus less often. The number of infections in children and how contagious they are do increase as they get older. There is also an increased number of infections in teens and young adults. However, the virus is often spread outside of school, during intensive contact in their free time with friends or classmates. Infection at school and in the classroom is limited. Therefore, classmates do not have to be quarantined, but if a child has intensive contact with friends or classmates outside of school, they do need to be quarantined. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) analyses which 'out-of-school' contacts need to be quarantined.

When do I have to stay home if I have symptoms?

Stay home if you have one or more of the following symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms that occur frequently included symptoms (such as a nasal cold, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat), coughing, shortness of breath, elevated temperature or fever, or sudden loss of smell and/or taste (without nasal congestion). See also the other symptoms that have been reported by people with COVID-19. 

Read more about the symptoms on the page about coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

When am I contagious if I have the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2?

You may already be contagious shortly before you start showing symptoms. If you shout or scream, small droplets containing the virus could fly into the air from your nose and mouth. This could also happen as a result of sneezing and coughing. Other people could become infected if they inhale those droplets, or get them in their mouth, nose or eyes, for example via their hands.  

Read more about the spread of COVID-19

What are the risk groups?

People who are over 70 years old and adults (over 18 years old) with a number of specific underlying health conditions. That includes chronic respiratory or pulmonary problems, chronic health problems, or kidney disease.

Read more about risk groups and COVID-19

Are pregnant women more likely to become infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2? 

Based on the current knowledge, pregnant women do not seem to have a higher risk of getting COVID-19; this means that they do not appear to be more susceptible to becoming infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 than women who are not pregnant. As always, it remains important to follow the current measures.

Read more about pregnancy and COVID-19

Why is hygiene so important?

Many people often touch their nose or mouth with their hands, without even noticing. This makes it easy for viruses such as the novel coronavirus to spread. Good hygiene is one of the key recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus.

Read more about hygiene and COVID-19

What protection is offered by face masks?

Non-medical face masks probably only play a limited role in preventing people with COVID-19 from infecting others. For that reason, face masks are not a replacement for other measures: you must stay home if you have symptoms.  As of 1 December, face masks that cover the mouth and nose are mandatory in all public buildings and covered spaces, in education, public transport and contact professions. The face mask requirement is based on the advice of the Dutch government of 30 September to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces.

Read more about face masks and gloves

Which animals can become infected?

In the Netherlands, antibodies against the virus were detected in one dog. In addition, the virus was found at several mink farms, and in a few cats at these farms. 

Read more about pets and COVID-19

How does the OMT work?

RIVM can convene the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) in the event of a cross-regional outbreak of infectious disease, or an international threat of infectious disease. Specialists and experts with different backgrounds and knowledge about that specific disease are invited to join the OMT 

Read more about the Outbreak Management Team 

What role does water play in spreading the virus?

Water appears to play a minimal role in the spread of the virus. What does this mean for our drinking water?   And how do we measure the virus in sewage?

Read more about water and COVID-19

How does RIVM handle results from new research (in the Netherlands and internationally)?

RIVM closely follows international publications on research studies. If new insights emerge from Dutch and international research results, RIVM will adapt its recommendations and guidelines accordingly. 

Read more about COVID-19 research