Covid-19 tests top half-million mark; More adults spending time reading books

Covid-19: Three young men walk past a 'Fight the Virus' sign on Panamalaan in Amsterdam, 22 April 2020
Covid-19: Three young men walk past a 'Fight the Virus' sign on Panamalaan in Amsterdam, 22 April 2020NL TimesNL Times

Some 505,370 thousand mucus swab tests have been conducted in the Netherlands to determine if people were infected with the novel coronavirus responsible for Covid-19, public health agency RIVM confirmed on Thursday. The tests were carried out on a limited scale, mostly with healthcare workers, between March and mid-May, when access was granted to more people.

As of June 1, everyone in the Netherlands has been able to contact municipal health service GGD to register for a test without a referral from a physician. In the 17 days leading up to Thursday morning, healthcare workers completed over 143 thousand tests, over 28 percent of all swab tests carried out since the beginning of March.

The RIVM also confirmed that 6,078 people in the Netherlands have died from Covid-19. The increase of four was due to the registration of one more death on each day from June 15 through June 17, and another on May 23.

Three more people were also hospitalized for the respiratory illness, bringing the total number of hospital cases up to 11,835. The RIVM also said an additional 132 people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strain this week. To date, 49,319 have tested positive for the virus since late February.

Meanwhile, half of adults surveyed by literary nonprofit organization CPNB said they have been more prone to read than to veg out in front of the television during the coronavirus pandemic. Their study, conducted between April and June, showed that 52 percent of adults picked up a book on paper, on an electronic device, or an audiobook, the organization told broadcaster NOS. 

"I also notice it in my own behavior. Because you cannot visit grandma and grandpa or go to a sports club, you more quickly plop down on the couch with a book. Normally I only have time for that in the evening," said CPNB's Eveline Aendekerk in an interview with the broadcaster.

Physical bookstores did not benefit from the extra reading, with consumers turning to websites. for their purchases. Brick-and-mortar booksellers saw revenue fall by 24 percent, or roughly 15 million euros. Meanwhile, web-based sales grew by 33 percent. 

"What is especially striking is that the casual reader, people who read a book once a quarter, started to read more. Certainly in the initial coronavirus period, reading turned out to be an escape. Many people were finished with the news, and could not go to a concert or play, but needed a distraction."