The coronavirus mutation, first identified in Britain, caused half of all new cases in the Netherlands by January 26, Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jongge said today.
Last week, Dutch health authorities announced that the new, more contagious strain was responsible for about a third of all new infections in the country.
The “British mutation” appears to be about 50% more contagious than the older strain, according to calculations made by Jan. 14, de Jongge wrote in a letter to parliament.
The Dutch government has repeatedly warned that the new mutations could lead to a new wave of infections in the coming weeks, despite a steady drop in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the year.
Aiming to stop the spread of the new mutations, the government last week added the night-time lockout measure it has already imposed.
However, in a first step towards easing the measures, the government announced yesterday that it has decided to reopen primary schools next week, as young children are considered to play a minor role in transmitting the disease.
Dutch media reported today that the government is still considering lifting the curfew next week.
Today, the number of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has dropped to its lowest level in 4 months, to 3,280.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 1 million coronavirus infections have been reported in the Netherlands and more than 14,000 deaths.