Healthcare staff horrified by Amsterdam protest; 154 with Covid-19 remain in ICU

Thousands in Amsterdam turn out in support of Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd in America. June 1, 2020
Thousands in Amsterdam turn out in support of Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd in America. June 1, 2020NL Times / Byron MühlbergNL Times

The large gathering of protestors in Amsterdam's Dam Square on Monday distressed many healthcare workers, said Ernst Kuipers, the chair of the Dutch acute care network. "There were about 5,000 people from all over the country, who were close to each other for a long time, and do not directly know most of the bystanders," he said, noting that those in health care watched events unfold "with horror," according to broadcaster NOS.

The packed demonstration at Dam Square was against systemic racism, and violence by authorities against people of color in the United States and also the Netherlands. It was scheduled after several days of peaceful protests and violent disorder in several cities across the U.S.

Kuipers' comments were the latest in some mixed signals from different medical experts. In reaction to the event, one virologist, an advisor to the Cabinet, cautioned that the Amsterdam protest could be a "super spreading event." Later, a different virologist disagreed, saying that the windy, sunny weather made it unlikely for a mass infection scenario.

"The chance is very real that there were people with coronavirus, and the chance that they have transmitted that is also very real," Kuipers stated. Other demonstrations were scheduled to be held in The Hague and in Groningen on Tuesday night, and Rotterdam on Wednesday.

Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus also discussed the subject with media, saying that he understood Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema's decision to allow the protest to continue, so as not to escalate the situation. At the same time, he was also deeply concerned about the public health implications. He said he hoped any further demonstration would be far more mindful of social distancing rules.

Patients in Intensive Care

There were 154 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care on Tuesday, a daily decrease of four. Another 516 were being treated in a hospital, but outside of the ICU, down 26 compared to Monday, according to patient coordination office LCPS.

Over 400 of the 516 had were at one point treated in intensive care and were transferred out of the ICU. "We are approaching the border of 150 COVID patients in the ICU, with the current further decrease going slowly," Kuipers said in a statement.

Some 2,885 patients from the Netherlands have been treated in ICU for the coronavirus disease since early March. Of that total, 831 have died, and 1,454 recovered and were discharged, said intensive care nonprofit NICE.