De Jonge: "All hands on deck" because of new coronavirus mutation
In an interview with NOS, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says that it is currently “all hands on deck” in the government. He said this in response to the discovery of a new coronavirus mutation in the UK. So far, air, train, and ferry travel from the UK have been banned. He did not want to prejudge whether additional measures will be needed. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) will issue advice on Monday on how to deal with this new mutated variant of the virus.
Additionally, a flight ban to and from South Africa is under discussion. The coronavirus variant, which appears to be more contagious, has also been identified there. The government party, D66, wants the cabinet to “urgently” ask the Dutch public health agency RIVM for advice on a possible South Africa flight ban to stop the spread of the more infectious variant.
The cabinet was first informed on Saturday that the virus variant found in the United Kingdom might be more contagious, after which it was the first country to issue a flight ban for passengers arriving from the UK. Other European countries have since also imposed various travel restrictions on UK passengers, including Belgium, France, Germany, and Ireland. From Monday, the Dutch government will also halt ferry lines. Travel by train and car has likewise been limited, as Belgium and France have tightened their travel restrictions against the UK.
The European Union has arranged for a crisis meeting to discuss the new mutation. From 11 a.m. on Monday, envoys from all EU Member States and the UK will meet in Brussels in a consultative body usually intended for disasters, terrorist attacks, or other crises.
Based on data from the UK, The Netherlands is searching for comparable cases of the mutated virus. De Jonge says that one person was found in a test sample that appears to have been infected with a similar mutated version of the virus. It is now being investigated with whom that person has been in contact and whether the variant has spread in The Netherlands.