Dutch government toughens coronavirus measures
With coronavirus infections growing, it seems that the Netherlands may be headed for a second peak much earlier than expected. The Dutch government is working with experts to introduce new measures and curb the virus’ spread.
The virus’ R number currently stands at 1,3 and 779 people tested positive for the virus between August 10 and August 11. Figures from the National Acute Care Network (LNAZ) show that the number of coronavirus patients in Dutch hospitals has increased by around 60 percent in the last two weeks.
Stricter coronavirus measures in the Netherlands
To help prevent a second wave of the virus, the government is tightening the reins when it comes to national coronavirus measures. Now, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has made two-week quarantine compulsory for anyone who has come into close contact with someone infected with the virus.
Similarly, any travellers who have recently returned from a trip to a designated “orange” country or area are now also expected to quarantine. The aim of these new rules is to ease the strain on the GGD by reducing the importance of source and contact tracing,
Presidents of security regions will be able to order people who have come into contact with infected persons to quarantine at home - initially, this will only be advisory and will work on a voluntary basis, however refusing to cooperate will be considered a criminal offence. Anyone expected to quarantine will be asked to provide the GGD with their contact details so that the quarantine can be monitored.
De Jonge said quarantine was essential to controlling the virus’ spread: “Mandatory quarantine is a tough measure but justified. Quarantine stops the virus from spreading, so compliance is crucial.”
New RIVM advice
At a coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) director Jaap van Dissel stated it may be possible to shorten the quarantine from 14 days to 10. According to him, figures show that 90 percent of people develop symptoms within 10 days of contracting the virus.
Van Dissel believes a shorter quarantine may be more convenient and less stressful for members of the public, and so they may be more likely to stick to it. The government is yet to consider this as a viable option.
The RIVM director is also calling for people to get tested more quickly. RIVM figures show that, on average, people are tested more than three days after first showing symptoms. Van Dissel says that this time must be reduced.
Government coronavirus debate
On Wednesday, August 12, the government is holding an emergency debate to discuss the growing number of coronavirus infections and potential coronavirus measures. The debate will interrupt the government’s summer break.
Despite the additional measures announced at the press conference on Thursday, August 6, several members of the opposition are asking for the government to take more control over the situation and implement stronger measures.