Five more dead, 190 new coronavirus patients in Netherlands; Cases top 800

Mother and child wearing medical masks and cleansing their hands
Mother and child wearing medical masks and cleansing their handsFamVeldmanDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Five more coronavirus patients died in the Netherlands since Thursday, doubling the amount of people who died with the virus in just a 24 hour period. The period represents the biggest single-day increase in patient numbers, as another 190 people tested positive for the virus bringing the total number of recorded positive tests to 804.

All ten of those who died were older patients with underlying health conditions, said health agency RIVM. Of the 804 confirmed cases, 179 work in healthcare, and 115 were hospitalized.

The province of Noord-Brabant was still the hardest-hit region in the Netherlands, so much so that the relative of patients testing positive are not tested themselves when they become ill. "People in Brabant who have been diagnosed positive, if the family members become ill it is assumed that they have it and are no longer being tested. We do this to keep the test centers open for older people, or people who are already have other complaints," a RIVM spokesperson told NL Times.

Instead of the health agency requiring two positive tests to give a coronavirus diagnosis, people in the Netherlands are now only being tested once. Additionally, patients are no longer being tested when they are released from quarantine, the spokesperson added.

The first coronavirus diagnosis was made on Thursday, February 27th. Following that, the number of infections jumped to 82 in the first week. That then surged day after day, leading to 614 total positive tests reported on Thursday.

The RIVM attributed the first jump in diagnoses to people being more aware of the virus and more likely to contact their doctors over flu-like symptoms they would otherwise have ignored. The second major increase the health service attributed to extra tests done at hospitals in Noord-Brabant.

The Dutch government has taken various measures to try and curb the spread of the disease, first in Noord-Brabant - the province most affected by the virus - and then in the rest of the country. On Thursday Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a new package of stricter measures, calling on anyone with symptoms to stay at home, for people to work from home as much as possible, and for events with more than 100 people to be canceled.

This announcement had a number of effects, including people apparently starting to hoard toilet paper and non-perishables. And a much quieter rush hour than usual on Friday morning.

The ban on events with more than 100 people is also another blow for the hospitality and entertainment industry. These industries in Rotterdam, Noord-Brabant and Amsterdam were already struggling, but KHN expects the new measures will spread the problems throughout the country. The ban does not only affect sports events and concerts, KHN pointed out, but also large meetings, fairs and even weddings. 

It also means that Dutch talk shows have to follow the American example and film without a studio audience:

With more and more travel restrictions and fear of being infected with Covid-19, the travel industry is also facing problems. American president Donald Trump announced an entry ban on flights from 26 European countries, including the Netherlands. This will hit KLM harder than the cancellations of flights to China, CEO Pieter Elbers said. 

The new measures also mean that universities and universities of applied sciences will be closed for the rest of the month. The higher education institutions ae figuring out how to keep teaching their students, mostly focusing on online lectures.

The Prime Minister said that daycare centers, primary-, and secondary schools can stay open for the time being - leading to concerns from parliamentarians from both the coalition and opposition parties. 

On Friday, the Council for the Judiciary announced that there is a good chance that trials will have to be postponed due to the coronavirus. The courts already had a backlog in cases, and this will only exasperate that problem.