All Covid-19 advice withdrawn but continue to use common sense if you have respiratory symptoms
The advice on testing for coronavirus infection and isolating after a positive test no longer applies. The government has withdrawn this guidance, based on the recommendations of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and the Social Impact Team (MIT). This is possible because of the high level of immunity in the Dutch population and because few people are becoming severely ill from the variants that are currently circulating. But the government does urge everyone to continue using their common sense if they develop flu or cold symptoms. It is always a good idea to stay at home if you are ill. If your symptoms are mild, ask your manager if you can work from home if your role allows this. It is also common sense to avoid physical contact with people in medically at-risk groups, as well as to sneeze or cough into your elbow, wash your hands regularly and ventilate indoor spaces well.
Coronavirus has now become endemic in the Netherlands. In this new phase, the virus is constantly present in the population, but nearly everyone has developed immunity, either through vaccination or a previous infection. This means few people are becoming severely ill. Now that the virus is no longer causing major social and economic disruption, measures to control its spread are no longer necessary.
‘The withdrawal of the last coronavirus guidance marks the end of a remarkable period that we won’t soon forget. And we must not forget, because coronavirus is here to stay. We will have to learn to live with the virus, and I’m glad to say we’re becoming better at doing that.’
Ernst Kuipers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport
Use common sense
The government urges everyone to use their common sense if they develop flu or cold symptoms, whether or not they’re caused by coronavirus. So if you have a cough, a sore throat or a runny nose, or if you have to sneeze a lot, common sense means you should:
- stay at home
- ask your manager if you can work at home if your symptoms are mild
- avoid physical contact with people who could become seriously ill from a cold or flu virus. If this is impossible, for instance because you are an informal carer, wear a face mask
- cough and sneeze into your elbow, and wash your hands thoroughly and regularly (you should always do this, even if you are in good health)
- ventilate indoor spaces well.
‘The pandemic showed that a few basic measures – like washing hands and coughing into your elbow – can slow the spread of viruses. This applies not only to coronavirus but also to other viruses. So let’s use our common sense whenever we have flu or cold symptoms. This will benefit everyone, not just people in medically at-risk groups.’
No new vaccination campaign in the spring
The government has decided not to organise a new round of vaccinations this spring. This is not necessary in view of how the pandemic is evolving, the degree of population immunity and the predominance of the Omicron variant, which causes less severe illness. Another repeat dose is unlikely to give people much extra protection, although it might be necessary for people with certain health conditions. Doctors will assess this for individual patients and refer them for an extra repeat dose if necessary. The primary vaccination series and repeat vaccination are still available for everyone aged 12 and over who has not yet had them.
GGD test centres being closed
The municipal health service (GGD) is closing its test centres now that the OMT has said there is no benefit in continuing large-scale testing. If you need proof of recovery in order to generate a Covid-19 certificate (DCC) for international travel, you can get tested by the GGD up to and including 17 March. After this date, you will need to go to a commercial testing centre for this. This also applies to people who need a negative test result for international travel.
Monitoring the virus still important
We don’t know how the virus will develop, so monitoring and surveillance remain important. Hospitals have a major role to play in this. Effective surveillance allows us to detect new coronavirus variants that could cause more severe illness or be more infectious. And we can see if the current vaccination programme still offers enough protection.