Coronavirus: All Brabant residents with a cold, cough told to stay inside; More fatalities likely

All residents of the Noord-Brabant province were advised to stay home if they have symptoms of a cold, a cough, or a fever, health agency RIVM said on Friday. The warning came after it emerged that the province is the hardest hit of the Netherlands, with 34 of the country's 128 positive coronavirus cases residing in municipalities there, an NL Times analysis of RIVM statistics shows.

Health service GGD was unable to determine how many people were infected. "Of the patients for whom no source is known or for which it is still being investigated, the majority comes from Brabant or has a link with this province," the RIVM said.

In total, 128 patients have tested positive for the Covid-19 variant of the virus. Of the 126 whose residences were revealed, 33 live in Utrecht province, and 23 in Zuid-Holland. There are ten patients each from Gelderland, Limburg, and Noord-Holland, three in Drenthe, two in Flevoland, and one in Overijssel.

The cities hardest hit by the virus are Houten and Rotterdam, with nine cases each, and Utrecht with eight.

"The RIVM asks residents of Noord-Brabant with a cold, who have a cough or fever to avoid their social contacts as much as possible. For example, work at home, do not visit others or go to places where many people come together. If you have complaints and still need to leave the house, try to keep as much distance as possible from others. This reduces the chance of you spreading the virus unnoticed," the agency said in a statement. People should call their doctors when symptoms worsen, and in that case should not visit their doctor's practice unless advised otherwise.

More deaths expected

The Netherlands is likely to see more fatalities as a result of the coronavirus, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said at a press conference Friday. "It is likely that the number of infections will increase further and it is also likely that this could lead to more victims," he said hours after it was announced that an 86-year-old man died as a result of the infection while at a hospital in Rotterdam.

Of particular concern are carriers of the virus who then infect other, more vulnerable people, like those of advancing age, and others with reduced immunity capacity or existing illnesses. He cautioned that they are at the highest risk of infection, and also most likely to suffer from more extreme symptoms.

"On behalf of the government, let me express my condolences to the bereaved and wish them strength in coming to terms with this great loss. This again underscores how hard we have to work to prevent the virus from spreading," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at the press conference, which followed the weekly meeting of ministers and state secretaries.

Outreach and testing in the Netherlands has expanded massively in the past few days. A spokesperson for the RIVM told NL Times on Thursday that some 3,000 people have been tested for the virus in the Netherlands. Just days ago that number was below 200.

There were 82 reported cases on Thursday, and 38 known positive results a day earlier. Part of the rapid increase in positive tests was attributed to the increase in people actually being tested for the virus.