Dutch government considering new coronavirus restrictions
The Cabinet is considering a new slate of coronavirus measures to slow down the rapid increase of new infections in the Netherlands. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge made the announcement after meeting with other members of the Cabinet on Monday afternoon, but he did not reveal what new restrictions might entail.
A decision on the matter is expected on Tuesday, November 2, and will be disclosed at a press conference that evening. Covid-19 hospitalizations are increasing faster than predicted, De Jonge told reporters before and after Monday's Cabinet meeting. "It's just advancing too fast. We will have to face that the numbers are rising faster and earlier than expected," he said. Any new approach is to prevent a situation where hospitals have to decide which patients to accept, and which patients they are unable to treat due to capacity issues.
The current analysis shows that people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 are in particular at the greatest risk of becoming infected, infecting others, and requiring hospital care, he said after the meeting. The 13 percent of unvaccinated adults make up the lion's share of those hospitalized with Covid-19. "It means that any measures we are forced to take must also be justified with regard to that situation." He also said vaccinated people are increasingly opposed to facing new coronavirus restrictions.
An estimated 730 people with Covid-19 were hospitalized in the Netherlands during the previous calendar week. That is nearly double the total for the week ending October 11, according to data from patient coordinator LCPS. The average number of daily coronavirus infections tripled to over 5,000 since the start of the month, raw data from the RIVM showed.
Despite the escalating number of infections and hospitalizations, anonymous sources close to the government said on Friday that the Cabinet was unlikely to evaluate the situation before November 5. "On November 1st, we will receive new advice from the OMT, and then there will be a new decision moment. No doubt we'll see each other again shortly afterwards for the next press conference," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during his last press conference on the issue with De Jonge by his side.
With the situation worsening over an extended period of time, the Cabinet now wants the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) to produce their new policy statement earlier than planned. The document is expected on Friday, but might be ready sooner than that.