Cabinet: Relaxing Covid rules now “irresponsible” but there’s a “bright spot”
The fact that the number of weekly deaths in the Netherlands last week was lower than expected for the first time in six months is a "bright spot", but that does not mean that coronavirus measures can be relaxed further, Ministers said on Friday ahead of their weekly Council of Ministers meeting, ANP reports.
Statistics Netherlands reported that the number of deaths especially decreased among the elderly and care institution residents - groups in which many people have already been vaccinated. Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health called that "incredibly good news", but said that a further relaxation of lockdown measures would be "irresponsible" at this time.
"Then the hospitals will be full again in no time, not with the oldest elderly, but with the rest of the Netherlands," De Jonge said about relaxing measures. He stressed that the coronavirus can also make younger people very sick, and the vaccination program still has a long way to go to get them all vaccinated.
Minister Tamara van Ark for Medical Care added that despite the lower death rates, the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals is still increasing. And the number infections with the more contagious B117 strain of the virus is also on the rise. All those different figures need to be weighed together, she said. "We are longing for more relaxation, but we have to see what can be done. It is still too early to speculate."
Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security said Netherlands residents shouldn't expect any further relaxations any time soon.
The Ministers will meet at Prime Minister Mark Rutte's residence in The Hague on Saturday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and the measures in place against its spread. Rutte and De Jonge are expected to give a press conference early next week. On Thursday the Prime Minister said he wasn't very hopeful about more measures relaxing.