THE HAGUE - Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued an urgent appeal calling on all residents of the country to do a better job adhering to the current set of coronavirus rules, restrictions, and advice in force since November 13. More restrictions may be implemented within the next ten days if the coronavirus situation does not show signs of improvement, he said to reporters in The Hague on Monday.
The Cabinet is considering more measures, but is not yet ready to go ahead with them, said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. These could include "adjusting closing times, limiting group sizes, all kinds of lockdown-like measures that we know. And you don't want to simply announce those. They are also harmful. We really want to see if things turn around this week," he stated.
The RIVM, the country's leading health institute, registered a shockingly high number of coronavirus infections last calendar week. About 147,500 people were diagnosed with the infection between Monday and Sunday. That was equivalent to about 842 new cases per 100,000 residents, far exceeding the worst-case scenario put forward by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. They predicted between 615 and 715 infections per capita during the week.
"A change is needed," Rutte said. "If we want to see a turnaround in the number of infections in the coming days, we will have to do a better job of sticking to the basic measures." This includes staying at home when symptoms arise, getting tested for the coronavirus infection when experiencing symptoms, working from home as much as possible, keeping a physical distance of 1.5 meters from others, and limiting daily household visitors to four.
The additional measures implemented on November 13 included limiting opening hours for hospitality sector businesses, shops, and many service providers, and forbidding the public from attending sports competitions.
It will only be clear if the current coronavirus policy has been effective later this week. The restrictions are to be re-evaluated on December 3, but if the current situation remains the Cabinet is poised to address the situation sooner.
“We can see that it is very tense in the hospitals," Rutte said. "At the same time, the [Outbreak Management Team] observed that we are not adhering to the basic measures,” Rutte continued.
Data from the LCPS showed that 2,100 people with Covid-19 were admitted into hospitals last week, a 31 percent increase. There were 2,316 people in treatment on Sunday afternoon, including 466 in intensive care, the highest for each in about seven months.