Coronavirus: the Netherlands may bring Dutch citizens back from Wuhan, China
The Dutch government is currently looking into the possibility of evacuating 20 or so Dutch nationals from the Chinese city Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. Other European countries are already evacuating their citizens.
Coronavirus is deadly
By Monday, January 27, some 2.700 people had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, mostly in China, and 81 had died from it. According to the latest figures, over 4.500 are infected with the virus, and the death toll now stands at 106. Talks are underway with other EU member states and the Chinese authorities on getting the Dutch people out of China. The evacuation plans apply to the whole province of Hubei, however, all of the Dutch nationals registered at the embassy are located in Wuhan.
Damen Shipyards has already recalled three Dutch nationals who were working at a shipyard in the Hubei province. The company has a further four employees working at a wharf in the Hunan province. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has updated its travel advice for China to “safety risks” for the whole country and “only necessary travel” for the province of Hubei. Currently, it is not possible to enter or exit cities in Hubei via the roads, trains or airspace.
If you were planning a trip to China, it may be best to rebook it, as public life in many other cities has also come to a standstill and travel restrictions have been imposed. Many tourist attractions may also be shut until further notice. The Dutch airline KLM is offering those who have booked tickets to China the chance to cancel them without cost. This applies to flights booked up to February 29, 2020.
What if the coronavirus gets to the Netherlands?
According to the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), there is a realistic chance that the coronavirus will make its way to the Netherlands. It has already been detected in Germany.
The coronavirus has been given the status of a class A disease in the Netherlands. This means that measures such as forced institutional isolation or home isolation, forced quarantine, forced examination and prohibition of professional practice may be imposed. If someone is suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, a medical specialist is now obliged to report it to the Municipal Health Service (GGD).
For now, the RIVM crisis team advises against screening incoming passengers at Schiphol; this has not proved effective in fighting the spread of infection in the past. Moreover, according to experts, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth doesn’t protect you any better than simply having good hand and cough hygiene and keeping your distance from sick people.
How does the virus spread?
The virus is mainly spread person to person via the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. Those who are not in good health, and therefore have a lowered resistance, are more likely to get sick quicker than a healthy person and have a higher chance of dying from the disease.