18/12/21 - Slowing the spread of the Omicron variant: lockdown in the Netherlands
It has become clear in the past week that the Omicron variant is spreading very rapidly in the Netherlands too. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) expects that this variant will be the dominant variant in the Netherlands by the end of December. This is sooner than previously expected. This rapid increase in infections means the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and ICUs will rise further before the end of the year. It is therefore looking increasingly likely that the healthcare system will become overburdened in January. We all want hospital and GP care to be available when we need it. The spread of the Omicron variant must be slowed as soon as possible in order to ensure healthcare services remain available to all. This is why the government has decided that the Netherlands will go into lockdown from Sunday 19 December until at least Friday 14 January 2022.
The Omicron variant is relatively new and many factors are therefore uncertain. Despite these uncertainties, the modelling experts at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) were able to calculate how fast the virus can spread in different circumstances. For more details on this, see the RIVM news item (in Dutch). These calculations show that the measures already in place are not sufficient to ensure the pressure on hospitals and care homes remains manageable.