Netherlands now home to 6,412 coronavirus patients, up 15%; 80 more patients died

New figures released on Wednesday by public health agency RIVM showed that another 852 people were diagnosed with coronavirus, and 80 more people who tested positive for the virus have died. The Netherlands is now home to 6,412 people in total who have tested positive for the virus, a 15.3 percent increase compared to figures released on Tuesday.

Wednesday's increase in of 852 patients was the highest recorded single-day increase in the Netherlands to date. Nevertheless, the rate of increase fell from the 17.1 percent growth in patients recorded a day earlier.

A graph provided by the health agency showed that a spike in hospitalized patients took place on March 20, when nearly 250 patients were admitted. The health agency said that figure has declined for four straight days, resulting in around 180 admissions on Tuesday.

The country's association of intensive care professionals NVIC said 546 people infected with the virus were being treated in ICU beds. The Netherlands currently manages 1,150 ICU beds across all hospitals in the country. The Dutch government has said that could quickly be scaled up to 1,500, and then perhaps another 500 ICU beds could be added on top of that total.

The country's daily statistics were updated to show that 1,836 people in total have required hospitalization since the first case was reported at the end of February. That represents an increase of 341 cases spread out over several days, but which were reported to municipal health authorities on Tuesday.

Out of the 12 Dutch provinces, a plurality of patients reside in Noord-Brabant. The southern province is home to 1,915 people who tested positive, 29.9 percent of all coronavirus patients in the Netherlands. That percentage has steadily declined from 45 percent nearly two weeks prior, as more cases continue to be found in Zuid-Holland (887), Noord-Holland (870), and Limburg (786).

On Wednesday, RIVM director Jaap van Dissel updated the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on the state of affairs around the coronavirus. He said that the measures taken by the Dutch government seem to be succeeding in "flattening the curve" of infections. The RIVM's research showed that the infection rate in the Netherlands was declining, and that the increase in positive cases nationwide was far lower than what might have taken place had no measures been implemented.

The police have intervened in multiple places where young people were hanging out too close together. In Duiven and Westervoort, five young people were fined for not adhering to the rules of no gatherings consisting of 3 or more people and for not keeping 1.5 meters away from each other. In Nijmegen on Sunday, another five people were reprimanded for playing football together, according to Omroep Gelderland. And in Kaag, the police took six young people out of a home. They were visiting, but despite warnings, were "sitting right next to each other on the couch," a community police officer told Omroep West. 

Dutch authorities are increasingly warning that criminals are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis. The police arrested two people in Dordrecht on suspicion of trying to scam hospitals into buying non-existent medical masks for large mounts. The healthcare inspectorate warned consumers against buying any medicines online that claim to be effective in treating the virus. "There are no medicines or vaccines against the coronavirus yet," the Inspectorate said.

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) said on Wednesday that it will act decisively against these corona-criminals. Their cases will be handled quickly and they will face high sentence demands, starting with conditional prison sentences, the OM said. "This type of behavior is not tolerated."

Eleven medical specialists from the Amsterdam University Medical Center will be heading to Bonaire this week to assist the island's hospital in dealing with the coronavirus. They will be in joint quarantine for two weeks after their arrival, during which time they will prepare and write protocols focused on the local situation, NOS reports. Once out of quarantine, the Amsterdam specialists will support the other doctors in the hospital. So far, no Covid-19 infections have been registered on Bonaire.

The Keukenhof, a major tourist attraction in the Netherlands, will not open at all this year, a spokesperson said to Omroep West. The measure in place banning large groups of people at least until June 1st means that there is no other option for the flower park in Lisse. The Keukenhof was scheduled to be open between arch 21 and May 10. The opening had already been postponed. "The dismay among employees and partners who have worked on the preparation for a year is great," the spokesperson said. "The park is currently ready for opening, the flower bulbs are blooming and the flower shows are largely arranged."

That the coronavirus and measures taken to curb its spread would be a big hit to the Dutch economy was already known. But on Tuesday Pieter Hasekamp, director of central planning office CPB, said that there is almost no avoiding a recession in the economy at this point.  "We are still calculating, but a recession is almost inevitable," he said.

The Dutch Payments Association increased the maximum limit you can pay with contactless payment methods without inserting a PIN from 25 euros to 50 euros. The association hopes this will mean fewer consumers touching payment terminals, and help in reducing the spread of Covid-19. 

Blood bank Sanquin is starting tests this week to see whether the antibodies in the blood plasma of cured Covid-19 patients can help new patients fight the virus.