AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch hospitals are feeling the strain from a surge in COVID-19 patients but the worst has yet to come, the head of the country's hospital association said on Monday.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals increased to around 2,000 on Monday, including almost 400 in intensive care, reaching the highest level since May.
With almost 250 new admissions every day, the hospitals are set to pass last winter's peak of around 2,800 coronavirus patients in little over a week, the LNAZ association’s head, Ernst Kuipers, told lawmakers.
"We haven't seen the peak yet, numbers will continue to rise," Kuipers said.
Hospitals throughout the country have been scaling back regular care for weeks in order to deal with urgent COVID-19 patients.
Hospitals in the southern province of Limburg, one of the worst-hit regions, last week even said they had no space or staff to handle more coronavirus patients.
The Netherlands returned to a partial lockdown https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/netherlands-impose-partial-lockdown-halt-covid-19-surge-media-2021-11-12 last Saturday after the government ordered restaurants and shops to close early and barred spectators from major sporting events in an effort to contain the rapid surge in cases.
Over 100,000 new infections were registered in the week through Monday, the highest level for a single week since the start of the pandemic.
In the past week, an average of around 14,500 new cases were confirmed every day in the country of 17.5 million, beating the previous record of just under 13,000 infections in a day set in December last year.
Coronavirus cases are at record levels across Europe, with Germany reporting its highest level https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/german-coronavirus-infections-hit-new-high-tighter-measures-planned-2021-11-15 since the start of the pandemic on Monday, while Austria entered a lockdown for people not vaccinated https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/austria-enters-hard-to-enforce-covid-19-lockdown-unvaccinated-2021-11-15 against the coronavirus.
Around 85% of the Dutch adult population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the country will start to administer booster shots to health workers and the elderly at the end of this week.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Nick Macfie)