The Netherlands as one of Europe’s new coronavirus hotspots
With coronavirus infections on the rise across the country, international media and experts turn their attention to the Netherlands’ handling of the second coronavirus wave, and the Dutch government discusses potential additional measures.
The second wave in the Netherlands
The number of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has been increasing rapidly since early September, and now the country has one of the highest numbers of infections per capita. Over the past 14 days, there have been 285 coronavirus cases per 100.000 inhabitants, significantly higher than the 38 in Germany, and even the 201 in the United Kingdom.
As of October 8, there were 1070 coronavirus patients being treated in Dutch hospitals, 228 of which are in intensive care (IC). As the number of hospitalisations rises, the Netherlands has already, as a precaution, asked German hospitals to make extra IC beds available for Dutch patients.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has also reported that the excess mortality rate in the Netherlands is, yet again, on the rise - likely as a result of coronavirus. In the week of September 28 to October 4, 2998 people died - over 200 more than normal.
International surprise at the Netherlands’ handling of the virus
A number of news outlets across Europe have turned their attention to the Netherlands, and the country’s handling of the pandemic. Amrish Baidjoe, a microbiologist and epidemiologist in Norway, observes that action is only taken in the Netherlands when the number of hospitalisations makes it necessary.
French newspaper Le Monde and Swiss news site Blick have both expressed confusion about the Dutch approach to face masks. Experts across Europe also note how reluctant the Dutch population is to adopt a mandatory face mask rule. Belgian writer and professor, Marie-Therese Claes, is shocked by the ongoing discussion: “The Dutch always think they know better, that's what it comes down to.”
The National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), as well as Blick, attribute the rising number of cases to the significant number of young people who went on holiday to party destinations in Spain and France over the summer and have brought the virus back with them.
New coronavirus measures?
The rising number of infections and hospitalisations here means that new coronavirus measures could yet again be on the way. According to NOS, sources in The Hague say the government is considering scrapping late-night shopping evenings, and enforcing an earlier closing time for the catering industry. However, an official curfew seems unlikely.
According to political reporter Ron Frensen, the government is also looking to develop a long-term plan: “They assume that it can take another year and a half before we get rid of this. If there is a vaccine in the spring, then according to scientists it will take at least another year before the effect is really big enough. Hence, a long-term plan is now also being considered, because you cannot leave the country in uncertainty for so long."
Another press conference with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge is expected on Tuesday, October 13