It's time to turn the tide, Dutch PM says about increasing Covid infections
The rapidly increasing number of coronavirus infections, especially in cities in the Randstad area, is concerning, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in the second day of the parliamentary debates on the 2021 budget on Thursday. "It is time to turn the tide. We have to reverse this trend," Rutte said.
Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health sent a letter to parliament, confirming that a massive 1,546 people tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. The coronavirus infection rate currently stands at 1.38. That means that every Covid-19 patient infects around 1.38 other people with the virus. "If we don't stop this situation, the numbers of Covid-19 infections will double in over a week," De Jonge wrote. The number of coronavirus related hospitalizations and ICU admissions are increasing, but both are still well below the levels at the start of the crisis, De Jonge said.
The Health Minister also noted that young people are relatively overrepresented in the new infections. And that after the home situation and infections among family members, catering establishments are also increasingly noted as the source of infection.
On Friday, the government will announce new measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. "We are working on the principle that the measures are proportional. Voluntary where possible, mandatory where necessary," Rutte said to parliament on Thursday, NU.nl reports. De Jonge also said that they are looking at measures that will have "a maximum effect on the virus, but a minimum impact on society".
SP leader Lilian Marijnissen and PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher are flabbergasted that infections are rising again and the testing capacity is still not in order, they said in the debate, according to NU.nl. "The cabinet can no longer feel taken by surprised," Marijnissen said. She understands that things were difficult at the start of the crisis, but she feels that the government should have been better prepared six months later. "We knew we needed more test material. We knew there had to be more laboratories."
Asscher thinks that the "cabinet is losing sight of the virus, or may have already lost it." According to him, the government's current appeals to people not to get tested if they don't have symptoms are simply to mask the fact that the government failed to get the testing capacity in order. He fears that a second wave will lead to a second lockdown, and all the economic consequences thereof. "The budget plans can be thrown away if the cabinet fails to prevent a second wave."
Coalition partner D66 is also surprised that more effort wasn't put into getting testing capacity up. "The best economic support package is to prevent a second wave," party leader Rob Jetten said. "Other countries managed to do more tests. To get laboratory capacity in time."