Dutch schools advised to cancel exchange programs with China; No positive coronavirus tests in NL so far

People wearing masks in Beijing, China
People wearing masks in Beijing, ChinaImaginechina-EditorialDepositPhotos

Dutch schools should cancel their exchange programs with China in the coming months due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Globi, an organization that helps with organizing exchange projects, advised on Wednesday. So far three people in the Netherlands have been tested for infection with coronavirus 2019-CoV, but all tests have come back negative, public health institute RIVM confirmed to NU.nl. 

According to Globi, there are several exchange programs between Dutch and Chinese schools planned for March and April. The travel advice for the regions visited in these programs is not negative, "but there are pupils and parents who are worried and that is why we recommend canceling the exchange projects in the spring," Globi said in a press release.

The three people tested for 2019-CoV in the Netherlands all visited the Chinese province of Hubei, RIVM said to NU.nl. 2019-CoV broke out in the province's capital of Wuhan and so far most of the infections happened there. The health institute expects that more people will be tested in the coming period, due to increased precautionary measures.

On Monday, Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care announced that the coronavirus was classified as a so-called A disease. At the advice of the RIVM, the Netherlands was scaled up to the highest level of vigilance. This means that care workers must immediately report any suspicion of patients being infected with 2019-CoV. Potentially infected patients can be forced into quarantine. All Dutch hospitals have quarantine rooms available, according to Bruins. 

Despite the increased vigilance, so far no passengers will be screened for the virus at Schiphol airport. Bruins said that good hygiene and avoiding sick people are better preventative measures than handing out masks to everyone arriving from China. With previous disease outbreaks, screening passengers at Schiphol proved not to be effective, which is why this measure hasn't been implemented now, he said.

British Airways canceled all direct flights to China on Wednesday. So far KLM hasn't followed suit. 

The European Commission will send two flights to China te retrieve EU citizens from the Hubei province in the coming days. The first flight is departing from France on Wednesday, the second will follow later in the week, NOS reports.

According to the Commission, all EU citizens in the region of Wuhan are entitled to a seat on one of the two planes. According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are 20 Dutch people in the city of Wuhan. 

As of Wednesday, 132 people died as a result of 2019-CoV. In China, at least 5,974 people were diagnosed with the virus. Elsewhere in the world there's been a few dozen cases, according to NOS. 



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