Mark Rutte gave a press conference yesterday evening
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the NOS, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte (VVD), gave a press conference yesterday to update Dutch residents about the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The Dutch cabinet has decided not to loosen any regulations: the number of infections and hospital admissions due to the virus seems to have stabilised, but that could quickly change, said Rutte. “The situation remains changeable, certainly since we are now seeing people return from their holidays”, he said.
Rutte tried to convince Dutch residents that he understands the difficulties in keeping to the regulations (though the Netherlands has some of the least restrictive regulations in Europe). “But you have to keep focus. The difference between now and six months ago is huge, and after a weeks hard work you can drink a beer on the terrace”, he said.
Nightclubs are to remain closed, because of the risks associated with localised outbreaks stemming from just one club. This has been the case since March, and the Dutch government has decided to keep clubs closed for an unspecified amount of time longer.
The response to the Coronavirus pandemic will become increasingly localised, confirmed the Dutch government. Each ‘Safety Region’ organisation will report weekly on the risk level in their locality. The system will have three stages of danger: ‘remain alert’, ‘concerning’, and ‘serious’.
Following advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), the Dutch government has decided to bring in a weekly testing regime in hospitals and care-homes. Care-homes must close to visitors again, similar to the first peak of the virus.
Concern has been raised about the Netherlands’ testing capacity, with Minister Hugo de Jonge (CDA) asking people to only get tested if they have symptoms, to reduce pressure on the system. The Netherlands is purchasing additional testing capacity from Germany, to also help with demand. Minister de Jonge also said that he remains hopeful for a vaccination programme in early 2021, and reminded Dutch residents to keep up the 1.5-metre social distancing regulations and regular hand washing that have become mainstays of popular response to the pandemic.
Rutte also promised to hold an online Q&A session with groups that have concerns about the governments response. According to RIVM data, 3,597 positive tests were reported in the week between August 26 and September 1, from a total of around 163,000 tests. In the same week, 57 people were admitted to hospital due to the Coronavirus, and 24 people unfortunately died from the virus. The ‘R’ rate of reproduction remains at around 1, meaning that the number of infections is likely to remain level.