Experts: we should have intervened much earlier | Inland


That is the message of the so-called Red Team, the collective of experts outside the usual group of scientists that advises the cabinet in combating the corona crisis. Two of the twelve members will hold a briefing in the Lower House on Wednesday morning. “The Netherlands has done very well in the first months,” says Wim Schellekens, former chief inspector of the Health Care Inspectorate. “But after three months they were fed up, they came back from vacation and they went crazy. The result: we will be in big trouble in September. ”

Already with the first local doubling of the number of infections, when the numbers still seemed negligible in absolute terms, the reins should already have been tightened. Then the local approach could have been successful. “This prevents it from becoming a national problem. It is exactly what Germany does better than the Netherlands ”, says mathematician Bert Slagter. There, measures were taken in the event of local outbreaks. “In July, the virus also revived locally. But we did nothing. Apparently responding to local outbreaks has not worked well. ”

Early intervention does require better communication, says Slagter. Because if the hospitals are not yet full, people must be made aware of the need for restrictions in a different way. It must be established in advance which measures are available in the event of a virus reviving. These measures must be established nationally and implemented locally.


Slagter says that with the current infections it is impossible to relax the recently announced restrictions after three weeks. According to him, it is better now to intervene a bit more firmly and to get the reproduction number down more than 0.9, as the government advocates. A reproduction number of 1 means that each carrier of the virus infects one other. If the number falls below 1, the virus stain shrinks. However, with a number of 0.6 it goes much faster than with 0.9. “It is better to suffer pain now to be able to live with more relaxation later,” says Schellekens.

The Red Team also recommends the use of masks in public spaces as part of a more stringent bundle, which also includes ventilation, quarantine support and extensive source and contact research.

Test capacity

The fact that the GGDs are ‘stripped down’ and the ‘testing equipment’ is not in order does not help in that respect either, says Schellekens. According to him, we should use the coming weeks to empower the GGDs to expand source and contact research and test capacity.

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