Cabinet was irresponsible to allow parties and clubbing: UMCG virologist
As the delta coronavirus variant advances at lightning speed, UMCG virologist Bert Niesters said young people are not to blame, if the government allows parties and clubbing again. “If the government permit parties again, young people will go there. It is not their fault if the policy is irresponsible”, Niesters said according to the Dagblad van het Noorden.
On Saturday, the Netherlands reported the most new coronavirus infections since Christmas. One day earlier, the government announced it would limit opening hours for the catering industry and restricted access to events only two weeks after a near complete reopening the country.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the Cabinet’s missteps on Monday. He and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge were heavily criticized for standing firm during a press conference on Friday, stating that they did not make a mistake but that the residents of the country were not following the few rules about social distancing that were in place.
“That is the fastest increase ever for the Netherlands since the outbreak of the pandemic”, Belgian virologist Marc van Ranst noted. “The increase is even faster because infections are also imported from abroad.” The virologist advised not to open everything up for the time being.
Niesters agreed stating, “Wait a few more weeks.” He thinks that there will be less insight into the infection rate among young people between 16 and 29. "They often have no or few complaints, so they do not get tested. With [access testing]they had a reason to get tested, but now that the nightclubs and festivals are cancelled, the number of tests will decrease considerably."
“Young people are now being blamed, but that is not entirely fair”, Niesters said. “The virus loves parties and young people do too.” OMT-member Menno de Jong also criticized Health Minister Hugo de Jonge’s decision to allow people direct access to events after receiving a Covid-19 vaccination. This meant many young people got vaccinated with the Janssen to be allowed access to evens as soon as possible.
“I did get a little angry when I heard Hugo de Jonge say this. It is misleading information. A vaccine does not work like this”, De Jong said in an interview with AT5 on Sunday.
The coronavirus situation has already been classed as very serious in two regions, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer on Friday. At the time, infections grew the most in Amsterdam-Amstelland and Groningen. The city of Groningen alone accounted for 2,100 infections in one week. Amsterdam broke a single-day record on Sunday with 1,339 new infections reported in one day.
The Netherlands will now likely turn red again on the European coronavirus risk level map.