Nearly 40,000 coronavirus infections this week; Rutte discussing new measures today
Some 6,378 more people tested positive in the Netherlands for a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections, data released by public health agency RIVM on Sunday showed. While it was just shy of being two percent lower than Saturday’s record-breaking day of over 6,500 new cases, the Sunday total was still 59 percent higher than a week earlier.
For the week ending Sunday, 38,821 people tested positive for the infection, 60 percent more than the previous week. The total number of patients being treated in hospitals for Covid-19 also rose by 43 in a day to 1,233 on Sunday, the highest total since May 17. The hospitalization total has risen nearly each of the past 40 days, and was ten times higher than at the beginning of September.
As the worsening coronavirus situation in the Netherlands continued into its third month, politicians convened on Sunday at the prime minister’s residence to discuss the possibility of placing tighter restrictions on society to regain control. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was set to talk with Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, Justice & Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus and RIVM director Jaap van Dissel, according to broadcaster NOS.
”We have to brace ourselves for new measures,” De Jonge told reporters on Sunday. On at least two separate occasions in September, De Jonge said that national lockdown measures were possible if regional restrictions did not prove effective.
Over the weekend, several prominent healthcare experts in the Netherlands said the country needed stricter and clearer social restrictions to control the virus. They spoke out in opposition to the Cabinet’s current approach which has stressed personal responsibility by announcing urgent advice, which can be vague and misunderstood, instead of firm mandatory regulations.
“I am very much in favor of entering a lockdown as soon as possible,”, intensive care leader Diederik Gommers told newspaper AD. “And then no intelligent lockdown or something like that, but a full one. Otherwise nothing will change.” He said that on Saturday, when all 25 security regions in the Netherlands were at an elevated coronavirus risk level.
The Sunday afternoon meeting was not expected to lead to an immediate announcement of any new restrictions, with the Cabinet receiving advice from its Outbreak Management Team members, including Gommers, on Monday. A press conference was expected on Tuesday, however that could also be moved to Monday.
New hospital infections serious but not unexpected
The day’s hospitalization increase was not surprising to Ernst Kuipers, the head of the Dutch acute care providers network. “The number of admitted covid patients continues to increase, this is in line with expectations,” he said.
Of the 1,233 patients, 247 were being treated in intensive care, an increase of 12. Another 986 were being cared for outside of ICUs, an increase of 31, according to data from patient coordination office LCPS. The total showed a week-to-week increase of 52 percent.
Patients were being moved from the western parts of the country, where more than half of the Covid patient total was located, to all other regions as a way of more evenly distributing patients.
Amsterdam remains on top with 420 infections
Sunday’s data showed that of the new infections, the most residents receiving a positive test were located in Amsterdam (420), Rotterdam (376), The Hague (273) and Utrecht (234). While the situation in Amsterdam improved by eight percent compared to last Sunday, but it worsened in the other three.
Rotterdam showed 40 percent more infections, while 19 percent more of The Hague’s residents tested positive. The increase in Utrecht was 76 percent over last Sunday’s total.
Some 174,653 people in the Netherlands have tested positive for the viral infection, which is likely to push past 200 thousand next week. An estimated 13,301 people have been hospitalized for Covid-19, including 55 more patients revealed by the RIVM on Sunday.
Another 17 deaths were also linked to the coronavirus disease. The deaths of 6,584 people have been definitively linked to the viral infection since the end of February.