Corona virus has reached the “endemic stage” in the Netherlands. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) wrote this on Thursday Latest tips to the cabinet. According to OMT, widespread testing is no longer necessary. “General advice” such as coughing into the elbow, washing hands and “staying home if you are not feeling fit and sick” will suffice.
The term “endemic,” according to OMT, describes the stage in which the virus is persistently present, but “where the entire population has immunity through vaccination or previous infection.” As a result, the spread of the virus has become stable and therefore predictable. The reproduction number has been around 1 since the spring of 2022, which means the number of cases will stay more or less the same.
Since that time, the Netherlands no longer has any corona strict measures. In February 2022, the one and a half meter measure ended, and a month later the mask obligation in public transport also disappeared. Since then, additional advice has been given to healthcare workers, such as wearing a mouth-nose mask at a distance of one and a half metres. These measures will also expire if it is up to the OMT team.
Read more about the “endemic stage”: It’s dangerous to think this is the end game.
In this new phase, the basic measures of corona will not apply – stay home if you have complaints, self-test and go into isolation if the test is positive. The OMT advises the Cabinet to make good communications about “general procedures” for respiratory complaints, such as staying home if you are not fit, being careful with the vulnerable and following general hygiene measures such as hand washing.
For Covid lung disease, there is currently not “sufficient knowledge of risk groups” to advise on targeted actions, OMT writes. According to OMT, RIVM is monitoring this situation. For example, over time it should become clearer about its development and impact.
OMT himself describes his latest advice as a “guru”. But evolution is also accompanied by “the uncertainty and unpredictability of the development of new variables, and the course of the immune system.” The virus has not gone away, and “in an endemic situation, there are always groups at increased risk of a serious course.” It remains important that vulnerable groups and their environment “take measures to protect themselves as much as possible”, according to cabinet advisers.
Ready for new disease outbreaks
Although OMT describes the chance of new variants in the short term as small, it remains “important to monitor spread […]characteristics […]disease burden and the level of protection afforded by the vaccination programme.” The GGD “must be generally prepared to be able to expand if necessary, including outbreaks of other infectious diseases.”
The Netherlands will be the fourth country in Europe to abandon coronavirus testing and isolation advice. In Norway, only high-risk groups are still advised to get tested. In Denmark and Sweden, this advice also applies to health workers and others who often deal with high-risk groups. In all other European countries, the advice to test and isolate still applies.
Minister Ernst Kuipers (Public Health, D66) sent the advice to the House of Representatives on Thursday. It is not yet clear when the minister will make a decision in this regard.
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