Biggest single-day increase in new coronavirus patients takes total to 1413

Another 278 people in the Netherlands tested positive for the Covid-19 variant of coronavirus, bringing the country's total number of patients to 1,413. Four more patients who tested positive with the virus died since Sunday, figures provided by public health agency RIVM showed.

"In total, 24 people have now died from the disease. The average age of the deceased is 79 years (youngest 59- oldest 94). A total of 205 patients were or have been admitted to a hospital," the RIVM said in a statement.

The previous date with the most patients diagnosed was on March 12, when 190 people tested positive for coronavirus, statistics released the following day showed. Estimates provided on Saturday suggested that 30-40 people of those hospitalized were being treated in intensive care, a range which rose to between 40 and 60 on Sunday.

Of the 278 new patients reported on Monday, 108 were residents in Noord-Brabant, bringing that province's total up to 554. The percentage of all patients residing there has fallen slightly over the last few days, as more people test positive in Limburg (149), Utrecht (140), and Zuid-Holland (136). Still, there are concerns that a second-wave of patients is imminent in Noord-Brabant.

The number of Covid-19 diagnoses in the Netherlands increased significantly over the past week, jumping from 321 on Monday, March 9, to 1,135 on Sunday, March 15. In response, the Netherlands intensified the measures in place to fight the spread of the virus.

 On Thursday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on everyone with mild cold symptoms to stay home, on everyone to work from home as much as possible, for events with more than 100 people to be canceled, and for universities to close. On Sunday the government ordered the closure of schools, daycare centers, and a large number of businesses. 

The Prime Minister will address the Dutch nation on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m., regarding the state of affairs around the Covid-19 epidemic. 

By taking a number of measures, the number of beds in intensive care units in Dutch hospitals can be expanded to a total of 1,500, Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care said in response to parliamentary questions on Monday. The Netherlands usually counts 1,150 ICU beds, NOS reports.

Measures to increase this include scaling down plannable care as patients who had surgery are often placed in ICU afterwards, and deploying hospital staff differently so that usually unoccupied ICU beds can be used. The Defense organization is also providing 70 ventilators to hospitals. Hospitals are investigating even more measures, such as the purchase of extra respiratory equipment, to further expand their capacity to a total of about 2 thousand ICU beds, the Minister said. 

Before the new data was released on Monday, Bruins had stressed that through Sunday only around 160 Covid-19 patients in the Netherlands had been hospitalized, and that less than half were in ICU. 

The association of Dutch hospitals told NOS that a shortage of medical masks and other medical devices is an increasing problem. An additional problem is that things like masks, gloves, and hand alcohol are being stolen from hospitals. 

The stricter measures in the Netherlands triggered some to hoard supplies, but supermarkets in the Netherlands call on consumers to only buy what they need. Albert Heijn told NOS that stores are being restocked multiple times a day and the company is working hard to keep the shelves filled. "You can help us by buying groceries as you normally do," Albert Heijn said in an email sent to customers.

Some Jumbo stores are running on shorter opening times to ensure that workers have time to restock the shelves. The supermarket chain is also looking for more personnel, because more employees are calling in sick and more people are needed to fill empty shelves.