Rumors of new Covid restrictions as Dutch PM schedules Friday press conference
The Dutch government is expected to announce a new set of restrictions in the regions around Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague as a result of the rapidly escalating number of new coronavirus infections. Nearly 1,550 new infections were reported by public health institute RIVM on Wednesday, the most in a single day since the crisis began.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will likely hold a press conference on the issue on Friday. De Jonge is expected to introduce a new three-level warning system for the 25 security regions of the Netherlands, similar to the red-orange-yellow system used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to caution people travelling abroad.
De Jonge had not planned on unveiling the program until next week. Instead, members of the Cabinet will meet with representatives of the most affected regions on Friday. "On Friday we will enter into consultations with the regions that turn orange and we will announce the package of measures," De Jonge told RTL Nieuws on Wednesday. A week ago, he specifically singled out Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague as cities where new measures were likely.
Over a thousand of Wednesday's new cases were in the Randstad region. The RIVM said 260 cases involved residents of the Amsterdam-Amstelland region, 171 were in the Haaglanden region, and 270 more people who tested positive reside in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond area. An additional 75 infections were found in residents of Hollands Midden, and 63 positive tests results were given to people living in the Kennemerland region of the Noord-Holland coast.
New restrictions are expected to be placed on those in each of the five security regions. "We will work regionally is that's possible, and nationally if that is necessary," De Jonge told the broadcaster. He would not specify what new measures could be introduced, but specifically mentioned the rising infections among higher education students, youth, and cafes as well as clusters of infections among those sharing a home together.
While nearly 200 thousand people in the Netherlands were tested for the coronavirus last week, a weekly record, the spike in infections was not solely attributable to the increased testing, said RIVM infectious diseases expert Aura Timens to Nu.nl. The RIVM noted on Tuesday that nearly four percent of those tested for the infection last week returned a positive result, a rate which was nearly seven times higher than in mid July.