'If you have to take strict measures, you are already too late'
The Cabinet is looking into the possibility of a new intelligent lockdown now that a second wave of infections has reached the Netherlands. According to Bas Jacobs, Professor of Public Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, this would only be counterproductive. 'If the virus spreads and hospital admissions increase, people become scared. They stop investing and consuming, which is bad for the economy. If you then intervene very harshly, it will affect the economy even more.'
Know which phase you are in
According to Jacobs, the most important lesson from the first lockdown is that if you have to take strict measures, you are already too late. At that moment, the number of infections is already far too high. Jacobs says that it is especially important not to panic. ‘According to the figures, the number of infections is more than twice as high as in April, but we are now testing much more. At the same time, the number of ICU admissions is a factor of 20 smaller, and the number of deaths a factor of 19. I do not want to downplay the situation, but you do need to know which phase you are in.’
It is therefore of vital importance to gain a insights into the infection data, and these are still far from in order. The number of complaints about long waiting times and unanswered calls at the GGD keeps increasing. ‘That's such an incredibly missed opportunity,' Jacobs says. ‘For the economy as well. You have to be able to get yourself tested quickly, and the results have to be there quickly. This way, companies can be confident that employees will not be absent for days, and it would become more easy for employees to respect quarantine.’
What would especially help is a new policy that lasts longer than a few weeks. ‘You have to keep the virus under control and at the same time impose as few restrictions as possible,' says Jacobs. That is a very complicated balance, for which a good testing policy is crucial. It's a possibility that the virus will be with us for a few more years. Then you need to have measures that are understood and that can be sustained for a long time.’