The Netherlands to scrap all coronavirus restrictions


The Dutch government today announced that it will lift all COVID-19 restrictions starting on February 25 despite several thousand confirmed daily cases of the coronavirus, mostly of the less severe Omicron variant.

“The country will reopen,” Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said during a press conference, the first such briefing since the start of the pandemic to take place without Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

All public venues — including cinemas, restaurants and bars — will be able to resume normal operations at full capacity for the first time in almost two years.

Face coverings and social distancing will no longer be mandatory in most places but will still be required on public transport and at airports.

Netherlands – Covid ICU patient total below 200 for first time in 15 weeks


Hospitals in the Netherlands were treating fewer than 200 Covid-19 patients for the first time since October 26. Even after accounting for new patient admissions, the ICU total on Thursday stood at 198, compared to 206 the previous day.

At the end of September, the government released a large number of restrictions that led to an immediate surge in the number of coronavirus infections. Hospitalizations started to rise steadily a week later, and intensive care figures marched upwards from mid-October. At its peak, there were 662 Covid-19 patients in intensive care on December 12.

That figure steadily declined for months. It fluctuated between 205 and 250 for the past two weeks, until it dipped below 200 on Thursday, according to data from the LCPS.

Netherlands lifts toughest Covid curbs with Denmark and France set to follow


The Netherlands has lifted its toughest Covid controls, Denmark is to remove all restrictions within days and France will begin easing curbs next week, as many – but not all – EU countries opt to reopen despite record infection numbers.

The moves come as data shows hospital and intensive care admissions are not surging in line with cases, and after the World Health Organization suggested the Omicron variant – which studies show is more contagious but usually less severe for vaccinated people – may signal a new, more manageable phase in the pandemic.

Dutch bars, restaurants and museums were allowed to reopen on Wednesday after the prime minister, Mark Rutte, said the government was “consciously looking for the limits of what is possible” as case numbers continued to hit new daily highs.

Intensive care admissions and deaths, however, have been falling in the Netherlands, and the health minister, Ernst Kuipers, said a decision to prolong restrictive measures would have risked “harming our health and our society”.

The Danish government, which two weeks ago allowed cinemas and music venues to reopen after a month’s closure, also announced on Wednesday plans to scrap remaining domestic coronavirus controls from 1 February. The move – which must be approved by parliament – will allow nightclubs to reopen, restaurants to serve alcohol after 10pm, and shops to lift limits on customer numbers. Vaccine passes will no longer be needed, and commuters may travel without wearing masks.

Coronavirus vaccine does protect against spread


Coronavirus vaccines are extremely effective at preventing the spread of the Alpha variant of the disease but the impact may be less on the more infectious Delta variant, according to researchers at Dutch public health institute RIVM.

The researchers studied how often people who have been fully vaccinated infected others in their household between February and May, when the Alpha variant was dominant in the Netherlands.

The study showed that people living in the same household as people who were fully vaccinated, but picked up coronavirus, were 71% less likely to be infected than household members of unvaccinated people.

Among people who were infected after partial vaccination (at least two weeks after the first jab with the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine), 21% fewer household members became infected.

The research results also show that if someone in the household tested positive, fully vaccinated household members were 75% less likely to become infected than unvaccinated household members.

Netherlands – Covid hospital total falls below 300; No ICU admissions for 48 hours


Hospitals in the Netherlands were treating 296 people for Covid-19 on Wednesday, the first time that number has dipped below 300 since September 18. It was also the second day in a row that no new patient admissions were sent directly to intensive care.

The current hospital total fell by four percent between the afternoons of Tuesday and Wednesday.The total included 168 patients were being treated outside of the ICU, a net decrease of 14.

The other 128 patients in intensive care, a net increase of one, which includes patients who were transferred from another hospital department.

All told, eleven new patients were admitted into care during the previous 24 hours. None of them were sent directly to intensive care, the second straight day with no new ICU admissions, according to LCPS.

That has not happened since July 28-29, 2020, according to data from hospital monitor NICE.

Netherlands – Coronavirus infection average nears 9-month low; Vaccine average at over 252K per day


Public health agency RIVM said on Sunday that people in the Netherlands tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection another 1,066 times. That brought the seven-day moving average down to 1,443, the lowest it has been since mid-September.

The moving average has plunged by 38 percent in a week, and 77 percent in a month. It was about 83 percent lower than the third wave peak of 8,352 set on April 23.

The last time that the RIVM revealed fewer than a a thousand new infections in a single day was in the first half of September. The continued downward trend of infections in the Netherlands, combined with the fact that testing is also at a nine-month low, could result in a drop below the 1,000 mark some time next week.

Just over 23 thousand people scheduled a coronavirus test between June 5 and June 11, with 5.6 percent being diagnosed with the infection, according to preliminary data. A positivity rate that low has also not been seen since mid-September.

Over 9 million Covid vaccine shots given in Netherlands; Covid hospital total falls further


Healthcare workers in the Netherlands administered the nine millionth Covid-19 vaccine injection on Friday, according to Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. By the end of the day, roughly 9.1 million shots will have been given in the country.

An estimated 130,917 shots were given on Thursday, bringing the moving average down slightly to 133 thousand. The country is on pace to vaccinate between 900 and 950 thousand people this calendar week, down from just over a million last week, unless a surge in injections are carried out over the weekend.

Earlier in the day, De Jonge said it was possible that many people’s first vaccine injection could be delayed beyond his deadline of the beginning of July due to production problems with the Janssen Vaccine.

There were 1,439 people being treated for Covid-19 in Dutch hospitals on Friday, down five percent from Thursday and 21 percent lower than a week ago. That total included 520 people in intensive care, the lowest since February 27. The ICU figure decreased by a net total of 21 in a day. There were another 919 people in regular care, which fell by a net total of 52.

European regulator says Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’


The European Union’s medicines agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” to use following an investigation into reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after more than a dozen European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden – halted the vaccine’s rollout over clotting fears.

The EMA said the benefits outweigh the risks – and the vaccine is not linked to an “overall risk” of blood clots.

However, the agency’s safety committee has also said it can’t rule out a potential link with a “small number of cases” of a rare clotting disorder occurring after the vaccination.

It has therefore recommended that governments “raise awareness” of the possible effects by including them in product information.

The E.U. begins its vaccine rollout, aiming to inoculate more than 450 million people


From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people across the European Union.

The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the pandemic began.

Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation as a whole into quarantine.

“Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president wrote on Twitter. “The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries.”

For Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, the vaccine’s arrival could not come soon enough. Italy’s suffering at the outset of the pandemic served as a warning for the world, and the current death toll is again among the worst in Europe.

“Today Italy reawakens. It’s #VaccineDay,” he wrote on Twitter after a 29-year-old nurse at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital was the first person to be inoculated. “This date will remain with us forever.”

The nurse, Claudia Alivernini, said she hoped the vaccination campaign would signal “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

In Spain, a 96-year-old great-grandmother, Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, was the first to receive the vaccine. The Los Olmos nursing home, where she lives, is in Guadalajara,  a city that has a special storage facility where the first doses of the vaccine were delivered on Saturday, transported from Belgium.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that the  vaccinations marked “a hopeful new chapter.”

Similar scenes played out across the continent, although not every member of the bloc followed the rollout plans. In Germany, a nursing home in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt jumped the gun, inoculating dozens of residents and staff members on Saturday, hours after the doses arrived. Officials in the Netherlands said they planned to begin vaccinations on Jan. 8.

But all E.U. member nations now have a supply of vaccine on hand to distribute. US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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