The situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 in a country is an important factor in this advice. A European entry ban is currently in effect for residents of countries outside the EU European Union, the Schengen Area and the UK. Within the European Union, joint agreements are made as to which countries outside the EU, the Schengen Area and the UK are considered safe and for which the entry ban can therefore be lifted.
Key role for the European CDC
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also produces a weekly map on which the European countries are colour-coded (green, orange, red). If all or part of a country is coded green, the spread of COVID-19 is minimal. If the country turns red, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. The ECDC also takes into account the number of positive tests compared to the number of tests administered (positivity percentage). To arrive at an accurate classification, countries supply their latest figures to the ECDC themselves. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment also uses these figures to develop its advisory report.
To support the travel advisories, RIVM compiles data from various sources and analyses the risks in various European countries on a weekly basis. Wherever possible, the situation is analysed at a regional level. The analysis is used by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the travel advisories for these countries. The following information is used:
- What is the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants? At the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, RIVM uses a signal value of 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per two weeks.
- Are enough tests being administered? RIVM looks at the number of tests performed per 100,000 inhabitants per day. The number of people with COVID-19 in the country is always taken into consideration in this context. If there are more infections, more testing is important in order to maintain an overview of the epidemic. If a country is testing more, then there is a chance that more infections will be detected. There are countries that test very frequently. As a result, the number of people who test positive for COVID-19 may be higher, without actually increasing the risk level.
- Are there indications of increasing numbers of infections or outbreaks and differences within a country? If the number of people with COVID-19 rises in a country, then RIVM looks at whether this is due to an increase in a particular region or city. The situation in that country is then assessed in more detail, looking at the data that a country provides through sources such as national websites and dashboards. In this way, RIVM can sometimes arrive at a more specific assessment for certain regions in a country.
- Have many people who recently returned from that country contracted COVID-19? RIVM looks at the number of reported COVID-19 infections to see whether people have recently returned to the Netherlands after a trip from that country. If many people travelling from a certain country turn out to be infected with COVID-19 after returning to the Netherlands, this may indicate an increased risk in that country.
- Is information available on the measures implemented by a country in the event of outbreaks or an increase in the number of infections? And are people complying with the measures? These could be measures in an entire country, in regions or in cities in the event of an outbreak or increasing number of infections.
Not all available information is reliable or useful for an accurate assessment of the situation in a country. In some cases, RIVM requests additional information, e.g. through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or from public health authorities in a country.
We use this information to to make a proper assessment of whether there is a higher risk of infection in a country or region. The more data is available on the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the more specific and targeted the consideration will be.
The definitive travel advisory is provided online at NetherlandsWorldwide.nl.