Real risk of coronavirus reaching the Netherlands, Medical Care Minister says

The risk of the coronavirus Covid-19 reaching the Netherlands is real, Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care said. The Netherlands is one of the last Western European countries with no Covid-19 diagnoses yet. Bruins understands that people are worried about this and wants to respond with good public information and the right preparations, he said to NOS. 

"We have tested about 50 people in the Netherlands so far. So far the results have all been negative, but sooner or later a patient can of course be found," Bruins said to the broadcaster.

The closest the Netherlands got to a corona case is a German man diagnosed with the virus just across the border at Sittard. According to public health institute RIVM, the man visited Limburg in the weekend of 8 and 9 February, but had no symptoms at the time. The risk of him infecting people during that visit is as good as zero, according to the RIVM.

He resides in Selfkant. Three others also tested positive in Gangelt, a neighboring German village also on the Dutch border. The additional diagnoses were revealed early Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, at least 23 Dutch are currently quarantined in a hotel on Tenerife, and other Dutch tourists were quarantined on cruise ships Westerdam and Diamond Princess, but so far none of them have contracted the virus.

Bruins emphasized that all kinds of preparations have been made in the Netherlands to fight the spread of the disease. Places have been set up where people can be quarantined, and the government is monitoring the availability of protective equipment like mouth masks and gloves. He advises people with a fever an a cough who had contact with China or one of the other affected areas to contact their doctor. He also advises people to wash their hands well and to cough or sneeze into their elbow.

More information about the coronavirus can be found on the RIVM's site here.