Corona diagnoses jump to 128 in Netherlands

Covid-19 - Sign at the Etos location on Dappermarkt in Amsterdam Oost stating that they have no masks or disinfectant gel, 2 March 2020
Covid-19 - Sign at the Etos location on Dappermarkt in Amsterdam Oost stating that they have no masks or disinfectant gel, 2 March 2020NL TimesNL Times

Friday saw another hike in the number of Covid-19 diagnoses in the Netherlands, as well as the country's first death caused by the coronavirus. According to public health institute RIVM, there are currently 128 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Netherlands, up from 82 on Thursday.

According to the RIVM, five of the new patients are admitted to hospital, the rest are quarantined at home. 101 of the Netherlands' patients contracted the virus while abroad, or by coming into contact with someone who became infected abroad. For the rest, the source of the infection is unknown. 

The European Ministers of Public Health gathered in Brussels on Friday to discuss an EU approach to curbing the spread of this virus. At the meeting, Dutch Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care called on his colleagues not to start seizing medical masks, safety glasses and other means of protection against the virus, referring to countries like Germany and the Czech Republic implementing export bans on masks, NOS reports. "It is not a solution if other countries impose an export ban on masks," Bruins said, adding that this can lead to "major problems for the Dutch health system" as the number of infections increase. 

Bruins also expressed concern about the increasing shortages of medicines and important ingredients for medicines due to stagnating supplies from China and India. An expert from the European Medicines Agency, who attended the meeting, said that the agency is evaluating stocks. The expert stressed the importance of an open discussion and EU-wide solution to this problem. EU Commissioner Thierry Breton (Internal Market) said that the production of medical equipment like masks can be doubled or even tripled in the coming weeks. He is discussing this with the industry. 

European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides (Public Health) called on the EU Member States to work together. "We are better protected against Covid-19 if we work together. I urge Member States to continue cooperation and sharing information in an open and transparent way. We must all be prepared for the next scenarios and plan ahead collectively.

The first Covid-19 casualty in the Netherlands was an 86-year-old man from Hoekse Waard. He was admitted to the Ikazia Hospital in Rotterdam with urinary tract problems on Sunday and was tested for the coronavirus after he started showing respiratory problems, the hospital said on Tuesday, confirming his diagnosis.

The man was treated in quarantine after his Covid-19 tests came back positive. He passed away on Friday morning.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his condolences to the man's family on Twitter. "Unfortunately, the moment has come today that a first death is to be regretted in the Netherlands as a result of a coronavirus infection. On behalf of the government, I would like to express condolences to the relatives and wish them all the strength in dealing with this loss."

The Kennemerland department of municipal health service GGD confirmed that a pupil of primary school Eerste Christelijk Lyceum in Haarlem was diagnosed with the virus. The child went to school several days after they started showing symptoms. A pupil of the Nieuwe Eemland high school in Amersfoort was also diagnosed with the virus, according to various media. 

The national government launched a helpline that Netherlands residents can call with questions about the coronavirus. The number is 0800-1351.