COVID-19 in the Netherlands and Italy

Louis de Bruijn | January 22, 2022 | #COVID-19 #Corona #Netherlands #Italy #use case

De vergelijking tussen Nederland en Italië, zoals in de linker tabel, ging volop rond op sociale media en zorgde voor onrust. De cijfers zeggen echter niet alles © AD

In light of the importance of having the right 'view' on your data, as shown by the image above, I've decided to make three interactive plots showing the differences in COVID-19 cases between the Netherlands and Italy. These interactive graphs allow users to choose their own day Zero scenario based on the numbers.

Data for the graphs below are sourced from the RIVM official website via the CoronaWatchNL repository, the Italian official Github repository and the stichting Nationale Intensive Care Evaluatie (links at bottom of this page). The last three green data points for the Dutch ICU admission have a short delay and are therefor most probably incomplete. ICU admission numbers have to be manually added and have last been added on 2020-07-06. Use these graphs to iterate through the data and compare both countries. These are merely meant as dynamic or interactive graphs, in support of the available graphs of the Netherlands found on the Github page CoronaWatchNL, the RIVM website and the stichting NICE website.

Daily percentage-wise increase of new cases

These are the daily new cases divided by the total number of cases on the previous day, or
( daily new cases on day N / total cases on day N - 1 ) * 100 %

Choose a metric for comparison
You can click on the legend above the graph to exclude or include data
Official COVID-19 demographics of the Netherlands and Italy

These are the overal demographics of the COVID-19 outbreak in infections, hospital admission, icu admissions and fatalities for the Netherlands and Italy. You can select a period and whether you want to see the data in total numbers or the daily increases.

Begin date
End date
Daily increments or cumulative
The last three green data points of the Dutch ICU admission data are most probably incomplete
Events timeline

The vertical lines indicate the government measurements by Italy in RED and the Netherlands in BLUE.

  • 2020-01-30 First case of COVID-19 in Rome, Italy
  • 2020-03-09 Forbidden to gather in public
  • 2020-03-20 Prohibited access to public space
  • 2020-03-22 Nation-wide lockdown
  • 2020-02-27 First case of COVID-19 in Diemen, the Netherlands
  • 2020-03-12 Forbidden to gather with more than 100 people
  • 2020-03-15 Schools, nurseries, restaurants and bars closed

Below you can find a table with the actions that both governments undertook. I've also added vertical lines in the graphs detailing the dates of these actions. NOTE that for brevity not all of the official events found on the official Italian decree timeline are included.

Official government decrees in timeline
Effective date Italy The Netherlands
2020-01-30 First two cases of COVID-19 in Rome, Italy. All flights to and from China suspended
2020-01-31 Declaration of "International public health emergency" for period of six months until 31st of July
2020-02-21 Decree for mandatory quarantine isolation measures for close contacts with a positive case
2020-02-23 Decree law introducing containment measures after outbreaks registered in Lombardy and Veneto
2020-02-25 Measures regarding the conduct of sporting events of all types and disciplines, the organization of school activities and higher education, health prevention at prisons, regulation of how to access driving exams, organization of activities cultural and tourism
2020-02-27 First case of COVID-19 in the Netherlands (ironically coming form Lombardije, Italy)
2020-02-28 Second case of COVID-19 in Diemen, the Netherlands
2020-03-04 The suspension throughout Italy of educational activities in schools and universities from 5 to 15 March Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adapted the travel advice for Northern Italy to only necessary travel
20-20-03-06 First fatality in the Netherlands due to COVID-19. RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment advises residents of the province of Noord-Brabant to limit their social contacts in the event of a cold, cough or fever
20-20-03-08 Enforcement reinforced measures within the territory of the Lombardy Region and 14 other Provinces
2020-03-09 Previous measures extended to the whole national territory. It is also forbidden to gather people in public places New measure: stop shaking hands!
2020-03-11 Negative travel advice extended to the whole of Italy. In case of fever or cold stay at home, above 38 degrees Celsius call the general practitioner
2020-03-12 Everyone in the Netherlands: stay at home with complaints. Avoid social contact. Meetings with more than 100 people are canceled throughout the Netherlands
2020-03-15 Schools and nurseries close until Monday April 6. The same applies to food and beverage outlets and sports and fitness clubs.
2020-03-20 Prohibiting access to public space. Closure of the food and drink administration establishments
2020-03-22 Prohibiting all natural persons from moving or moving with public or private means of transport in a municipality other than that in which they are located, except for proven work needs, of absolute urgency or for health reasons
2020-03-23 All meetings, even with fewer than 100 people, will be banned until June 1. Fines for companies and people to enforce
2020-03-25 All other companies ordered to suspend their businesses.
2020-04-01 Measurements extended until at least 28th of April
2020-04-21 Elementary schools open 11th of May, events cancelled until 1st of September and all other measurements extended until at least 20th of May
Day Zero scenario's

To the best of my knowledge, official Italian data is only available from the 24th of February onwards and they already reported 7 fatalities, 127 hospital admissions and 221 infections on this day Zero. I went and looked for a comparable Dutch day Zero scenario, but could not find it. Therefor I allow you to select either the fatalities, hospital admissions or infections as a starting point for the day Zero scenario. I've put the most overlapping day Zero scenario's for both countries in terms of their numbers in the table below, which can be double-checked via the graph above.

Comparing day Zero between the Netherlands and Italy
Infections Hospital admissions Fatalities
Italy 221, 2020-02-24 127, 2020-02-24 7, 2020-02-24
Netherlands 188, 2020-03-07 136, 2020-03-13 5, 2020-03-11
Day Zero comparison the Netherlands and Italy
Choose a metric for day Zero onwards
Daily increments or cumulative
You can click on the legend above the graph to exclude or include data

Quick notes
These data do NOT take into account the population density, respectively 421 inhabitants per ㎢ in the Netherlands and 207 inhabitants per ㎢ in Italy, nor do these take into account the population numbers: 17.18 million in the Netherlands and 60.48 million in Italy. Also, the data does not take into account other differences between the countries such as ICU admission restrictions, who actually gets tested etc. Last and possibly most important: these are only the recorded cases. The total number of infections is much higher than reflected in these data.

Readings and references

This app uses data gathered from Github for the Netherlands and Italy COVID-19 demographics. Data is sourced from the official Github repository of Italy and scraped from the RIVM website detailing the Dutch demographics. The idea for these interactive graphs originated from this Dutch newspaper article, the AD. Also, read the 'the Hammer and the Dance', an awesome story on COVID-19 risks on Medium! I've also added the most important events in the charts, sources from the official Italian decrees and the RIVM events timeline linking to the Rijksoverheid website. Also check out this amazing and interactive overview of COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. Read this Dutch article in the NRC on the complex mathematical modelling they do at the RIVM.

UPDATE 2020-03-29
I've included the ICU admission numbers from the Netherlands from stichting Nationale Intensive Care Evaluatie (NICE) and compared them with the Italian data from Github, which were already available.