Outbreak Management Team asked to reassess effectiveness of face masks

A Dutch flag printed on a medical mask
A Dutch flag printed on a medical masktuningval18@gmail.comDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The government will ask the Outbreak Management Team to reassess whether face masks are an effective tool in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security said after consultation with Security Council chairman Hubert Bruls, who earlier this week said he was against implementing a mask obligation in public spaces, NOS reports.

A parliamentary majority asked for this reassessment from the OMT now that coronavirus infections in the country is spiking again. Scientists are divided on how effective masks are in curbing the spread of the virus, but multiple Dutch researchers, experts and mayors have called for their use. Concerns have also been raised about the role aerosols play in the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask significantly reduces the amount of aerosols you release when talking or just breathing. 

Grapperhaus emphasized that it has not been scientifically proven that mouth masks work and that they cannot replace other measures. A recent study by UMC Utrecht showed that masks, in combination with frequent and thorough hand washing, and social distancing, can reduce the spread of the virus enough to prevent another major epidemic.

The Minister also said that the government is not taking any additional measures now and again called on Netherlands residents to adhere to the rules that are in place - wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, stay 1.5 meters apart, avoid crowds, and stay home and get tested if you have symptoms. 

Opposition parties GroenLinks, SP, and PvdA on Friday called for Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Healht to be called back from his vacation for an emergency debate on the increasing number of Covid-19 infections. On Tuesday the RIVM reported that there were nearly a thousand new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands in the past week - nearly double the number of infections the week before. According to PvdA parliamentarian John Kerstens, there is 'more than enough reason" for the Minister to be called in.