SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of positive coronavirus tests declined for the first time in eight weeks during the first week of April, but the pressure on intensive care beds shows no signs of easing.
In total 48,186 people tested positive in the seven days to April 6, compared to 51,866 in the last week of March. The drop of 7.1% contrasts with a 13% rise the previous week.
Hospital admissions declined by 3% to 1,588, but 376 patients were transferred to intensive care, an increase of 18.6%. The total number of patients in intensive care is currently at its highest level since last April.
The fall in cases could be partly due to the Easter holiday period, the public health agency RIVM cautioned in its latest weekly update. The number of tests taken was 10% lower than the previous week, while the positive test rate increased from 8.5% to 8.9%.
But most indicators suggest that the growth rate has been slowing since mid-March and infections may have started declining in real terms. The latest calculation of the reproductive number R puts it at 1.01 on March 22, down from 1.06 a week earlier.
Aura Timen, head of the national infectious disease control centre, told NOS: ‘On the basis of the most recent ICU figures we expect to reach the peak of the third wave in mid-April.
We will see in the next few weeks if that is the case.’ Children and elderly. The downward trend was steepest among children aged between 5 and 14, for whom recorded cases were down by around 15%, and in the oldest age groups, with positive tests down by 23% in the 90 to 94 bracket and 32% for over-95s.
Another 142 deaths were recorded over the seven-day period, compared to 171 in the previous week. These include deaths from previous weeks that were not officially notified until now.
Among the 25 regional health boards the highest level of infection was in Zuid-Holland-Zuid, where 407.7 out of every 100,000 people tested positive in the last week, compared to 170.3 in Groningen, which had the fewest recorded cases per head. Five areas were below the level of 200 cases per 100,000.
The daily figures for Tuesday showed 5,592 more positive tests were notified in the last 24 hours. Unusually, cases increased from Monday to Tuesday, possibly because of the long weekend, but the number was still 4% lower than a week ago.
There are currently 2,495 patients being treated in hospital for Covid-19 – a rise of 121 since Monday – of whom 750 are in intensive care.