Surge in coronavirus cases: Total of 1,135 test positive, 20 dead

A truck from municipal health service GGD Amsterdam
A truck from municipal health service GGD Amsterdam on Linnaeusstraat in Amsterdam Oost. March 9, 2020NL TimesNL Times

Another 176 people tested positive for the Covid-19 variant of coronavirus since Saturday, the second largest single-day increase in coronavirus patients in the Netherlands. It brings the country's total number of positive tests to 1,135.

"As of yesterday, eight patients died from COVID-19, ages 59 to 94. Most are over 70 years old and had underlying symptoms," public health agency RIVM said on Sunday. "In total, 20 people have now died from the illness. A total of 162 patients were or have been hospitalized."

Estimates reported in various media outlets suggested as many as 50 people were being treated in intensive care.

The new figures were released as representatives of the RIVM and three medical and hospital associations met with the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport. Medical experts in the Netherlands said they want all schools in the country to be closed as an extension of the government's recent new restrictions on public gatherings. So far the government has stood firm in its position that schools remain open.

Saturday's official figures had showed there were 959 patients who tested positive in the Netherlands. Roughly 44 percent of those diagnosed were residents of Noord-Brabant, the province with the most cases in the country.

As such the first stringent measures were taken in the province. Resident were advised to stay home with even mild cold-like symptoms, work from home as much as possible, and cancel major events. These measures were extended to the rest of the Netherlands on Thursday. 

The new measures did trigger some hoarding instincts, but also seemed to bring people together. On Twitter, Netherlands residents were offering help to their neighbors. A woman in Zwolle offered to watch the children of people who work in vital professions, like the police, hospitals, or fire department. And a man in Amsterdam was offering to buy groceries for neighbors who are sick or quarantined. "I can quickly cycle there and back and leave something at your door."

According to the RIVM, Netherlands residents may have the coronavirus if they have cold-like symptoms or a fever up to 38.0 degrees Celsius or higher, and had contact with a coronavirus patient or visited an area with a high number of Covid-19 infections.

Regardless of symptoms, everyone in the country has been advised to remain home as much as possible, and to greatly limit direct contact with other people.

On Friday the RIVM updated its list of areas considered most risky. It includes Austria, China, Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and the region in Spain around Madrid. The Dutch government has since released a flurry of travel advisories warning its citizenry about quickly changing policy shifts that may make it difficult to enter or leave over a dozen countries.