‘To keep the R below 1, we also have to take measures in schools’

The contamination figures show a lot this weekend decline see. But the picture has changed regularly in recent weeks. On average, the number of new infections no longer decreases. A relaxation of the measures therefore appears far away.

In fact, to keep the reproduction number below 1, additional measures are needed in secondary schools, says pediatrician epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning. An R number less than 1 is crucial because it means that an infected person infects less than one other person on average. Then the number of infections decreases.

Bruijning studies corona infections in secondary schools and sees that the infection figures there are higher than the national average. The share of secondary school students in the total number of infections is growing. “And we also see the number of clusters [grote uitbraken] in schools. That trend is not going fast, but that is a trend that has been going on for a while now. “

Big difference inside and outside schools

In order to prevent the R from going back to 1 or above it because the virus continues to circulate in schools, schools must also become stricter, says Bruining. Now some important rules, such as keeping 5 feet away, don’t apply to high school students.

“There is a big difference between the measures we currently have outside the schools and what we do in the schools,” says Bruijning. “If we want other places to be able to open again, then you should also consider measures in schools.”

Early this month, experts from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) said they were “concerned about transmission among adolescents and young people.” Bruijning gets one English study On. “They regularly took samples from a whole group of people, whether they have complaints or not. This also results in positive tests among young people who have no complaints.”

“Infections among teenagers are mild, with the result that they do not recognize that they are carrying the virus.” These infections therefore remain under the radar.

Class testing for an infection

People with no or few complaints spread the virus less than people who have many complaints. But young people can indeed infect others, Bruijning emphasizes. “We still don’t know how big that contribution is to the spread.”

She sees plenty of cause for concern. “In the study, you see that the virus is most common in the 12-18 age group, which is the high school group.”

Cabinet policy prescribes testing when there are symptoms. According to Bruijning, therefore, there is currently insufficient insight into the situation in schools. She advocates using rapid tests, for example if there are several infections in a class. “You can then briefly isolate infected children and allow education to continue. Another strategy is to test the entire school.”

“We need to look carefully at what is feasible. For example, temporarily teach online if there are multiple infections in a class and make sure you reduce contact between students, for example during breaks.”

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