30 more coronavirus patients dead, nearly 3,000 in total infected
Another 534 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with coronavirus since Thursday, which took the country's total number of infected people to 2,994. Thirty of those patients died since Thursday, meaning that 106 people with coronavirus have died in the Netherlands, public health agency RIVM said on Friday.
"The dead are between 63 and 95 years old. In total, 643 patients were or have been hospitalized," the RIVM said. "Most of the people who tested positive live in the province of Noord-Brabant, namely 1012 people. After that, most people tested positive were reported in Zuid-Holland (405), Limburg (366) and Noord-Holland (353)."
Thus far, the public health services in the Netherlands said they are able to test about a thousand people per day. That limitation means they test the elderly, those in vulnerable health, and health care workers first. They no longer test the immediate family of coronavirus patients when relatives show symptoms. The RIVM confirmed to NL Times that they assume they are infected, and act accordingly, but they are not logged in the official statistics unless a positive test is recorded.
"The actual number of infections with COVID-19 is higher than the number of reports in this update, because not everyone with potential infection is tested anymore," the RIVM said.
King Willem-Alexander will address the nation of the Netherlands in a televised speech on the situation around the coronavirus at 7:00 p.m. on Friday.
Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health, now responsible for the Covid-19 file after Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care resigned on Thursday, announced that all nursing homes in the Netherlands are now on lockdown. No more visitors will be allowed. The measure was recommended by the government's crisis team last week, De Jonge said at the start of the Council of Ministers on Friday. A lot of consideration and intensive consultation took place before it was announced, he said.
"Because I realize that this is a very drastic measure," De Jonge said to NOS. "If it is your own father or mother, it will of course affect everyone. Still, I think it is necessary. People in nursing homes can be very fragile, so the effects of the virus are very large. And we must protect the most vulnerable." The Minister called on people to still keep in touch with their family members and friends in nursing homes. "Via video calling, for example. But keep to the rules. You may not be susceptible yourself, but other people are."
Journalists waiting to get quotes from government members as they entered the Council of Ministers, were asked to keep at a distance.
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After the Netherlands closed its borders to non-EU residents who do not absolutely need to be in the country on Thursday, at least 30 people have been refused entry at Schiphol and put on a plane back to their country of origin, the Koninklijke Marechaussee said on Friday. "We normally refuse around 3 thousand people a year at airports that don't meet entry requirements, but now it's travelers who just want to get from A to B," a Marechaussee spokesperson said to NOS. He called it "sour" for the people who had been refused. "But we assumed that everyone would be well aware of all the restrictions in this extraordinary time."
Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs, who stepped down temporarily due to health issues, was set to return to work at the end of March. But due to the coronavirus, her doctors advised her to postpone her return for the time being.
A military barracks in Zoutkamp in Groningen was opened on Friday to take in new asylum seekers, State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Justice and Security said, according to Nieuwsuur. Asylum procedures in the Netherlands were brought to a halt early this week, due to the coronavirus. The barracks was opened to make sure these people don't end up on the street.
The Amsterdam ambulance service is no longer allowing family members to accompany patients to the hospital:
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Om u en onze medewerkers optimaal te beschermen tegen besmetting met COVID-19 (coronavirus) zullen we voorlopig geen familie van de patiënt meer meenemen in de ambulance. Natuurlijk maken we een uitzondering voor de begeleiding van kinderen. Wij vragen hiervoor uw begrip.
The RIVM said that there is no evidence that pets can be infected with Covid-19 or transmit the disease. But as a precaution, the health institute advised people with the virus to touch their pets as little as possible.
After a request from the government, Albert Heijn announced that it is implementing an hour in which elderly people can shop for their groceries without young customers around them. People over the age of 70 can shop at Albert Heijn between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. from Monday. Younger customers are asked to stay away during this time. Jumbo previously announced a similar measure for a number of its branches. Elderly people are more at risk if they contract the virus, and the government worried that many do not dare to go buy groceries due to fear of being infected.