Growing concerns in the Netherlands as coronavirus infections rise
With coronavirus infections yet again on the rise across the Netherlands, the Dutch government is forced to address concerns about a second peak, and face criticism from parliament regarding proposed coronavirus measures.
Dutch parliament debates coronavirus
Members of the Dutch parliament were forced to put their summer holidays on hold and return to work a little earlier than expected for an emergency coronavirus debate on Wednesday, August 12, to discuss the rising number of infections and proposed coronavirus measures.
The MPs voiced criticism of the government’s proposal for mandatory quarantine. Parliament protests have forced Health Minister Hugo de Jonge to slow down his plans to introduce mandatory quarantine. De Jonge has agreed to first refer the measure to the government’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) for assessment.
Security regions across the country are hoping mandatory quarantine can be implemented soon. Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen, made a statement on behalf of the chairpersons of the 25 security regions: “The number of infections is increasing, people are becoming more lax. We just need to be able to do something to intervene.”
Concerns were also raised regarding the capability of the GGD, after GGDs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam - two coronavirus hotspots - revealed they didn’t have the staff to carry out source and contact tracing. Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders said it was currently going “terribly wrong”, asking “How is it possible that 30 percent of the cases are not investigated?” Labour (PvdA) leader, Lodewijk Asscher, called the government’s strategy chaotic: “We cannot afford laxity, waiting and chaos. The cabinet must get to work"
Is the Netherlands headed for a second wave?
The number of coronavirus infections continues to rise, especially in Rotterdam in Amsterdam, in spite of new face mask measures which have come into effect. Figures from the RIVM dashboard show that more than 2.000 people have already tested positive for the virus since the weekly update was published on Tuesday, August 11.
Speaking on the television show Op1 on Wednesday, August 12, Diederik Gommers, chairman of the Association for Intensive Care, said that if figures continue to rise as they have been, then the Netherlands is headed to a second wave of the coronavirus in September.
He added that this wave was not expected until January 2021, but will likely arrive much sooner than expected and that Dutch hospitals will not be able to handle a second peak so soon. "We're not sure, I don't want to panic," said Gommers. "But if it continues like this it will just go wrong again."
Ernst Kuipers, chairman of the National Acute Care Network, has also expressed concern. Two weeks ago, there were 14 coronavirus patients in intensive care - this figure has now risen to 35. In total, the number of hospitalised coronavirus patients has risen from 80 to 150 in the past two weeks: “Although this seems fairly limited now,” Kuipers told De Telegraaf on Wednesday, “it is expected that this number will increase between a week and ten days to 200-300 admissions. And that is worrying.”
Test centre opens at Schiphol
Starting Thursday, a coronavirus test centre will be open at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Travellers returning from any “risk” countries or areas, or places categorised by the Dutch government as orange (only necessary travel advised) will be stopped at the gate and asked by the GGD to undergo testing.
These travellers will also be asked to go into quarantine for 14 days. Neither the test nor the quarantine is mandatory, although the cabinet is looking to introduce a law to change this.
Health Minister De Jonge said these new measures were in place to avoid passengers returning or coming to the Netherlands with the coronavirus “in their suitcase.”