VIDEO’SEven with an average of more than 20,000 infections and almost 300 hospitalizations every day, the cabinet is not pulling the emergency brake. There is still hope that a hard lockdown can be avoided.
Niels Klaassen, Laurens Kok
The figures continue to rise, the healthcare sector is calling for additional measures under the threatening denominator of code black, but the cabinet is still waiting. The good news is: the tide can turn if everyone has better adhered to the basic rules. Then the infections first fall in the coming days, and a week later the number of new hospital admissions too.
The bad news is: the wave that is now plaguing hospitals can no longer be immediately crushed. The people who are now in respiratory distress were infected more than a week ago.
The cabinet is thus caught between two fires. It is too early to judge that last week’s mild lockdown – cafes and shops close early, few visitors at home, a lot of working from home – has no effect, but in the meantime many hospitals are overrun.
That is why the coming days are crucial, outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte outlined today after corona consultations at his ministry: “We will only see whether last weekend’s measures work at the end of this week,” he said during an inserted press moment. “We really hope that we don’t have to report again until December 3 with a press conference.”
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As a result, there will be no harder measures for the time being, such as further curtailing opening hours and limiting group sizes. In the meantime, the cabinet is calling on the Netherlands – not for the first time – to observe the basic rules above all. According to CDA health minister Hugo de Jonge, compliance with this is ‘inadequate’.
And so he and Rutte once again summed up the well-known list: stay at home if you have complaints, have yourself tested at the GGD, keep your distance, work at home as much as possible, ensure good ventilation. “My appeal is: stay home if you have complaints, get tested at the GGD. That is really the most important basic rule.” That the cabinet waited too long and would not listen to the cry for help from virologists, healthcare workers and other experts turned out to be against the sore leg of the prime minister.
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Rutte responded: ,,Strong leadership doesn’t mean that we do it when everyone says ‘take extra measures’. We take this on the basis of a broad consideration. No one has to doubt for a second that we would hesitate if intervention was necessary. But it’s not like we do it because people on talk shows say so.” A new lockdown also causes damage, the corona duo emphasizes. Intervening too late has a price, according to Rutte, too early. He is not yet convinced that – just like last year – new lockdown-like measures are ultimately inevitable.
Then they were first postponed for weeks, until the Netherlands was largely locked up after all. Dissatisfaction with the government’s wait-and-see attitude is now growing among those in favor of tough intervention. The professional association of Nurses & Caregivers in the Netherlands (V&VN) warns that ‘code black’ will be reached quickly.
But according to De Jonge, the Netherlands is ‘far from’ the last phase of code black, the moment when IC beds must be allocated on the basis of non-medical considerations.
Lockdown threatens if no turnaround
The lockdown ghost floats above the Binnenhof. Since the beginning of October, the number of infections and hospital admissions has been increasing, the curves have skyrocketed in recent weeks. 2430 corona patients have now been admitted, 470 of whom are in intensive care. In addition, hospitals are faced with staff shortages.
On Monday, 23,066 new corona cases were registered, the second highest number ever.
151,196 infections have been confirmed in the past seven days. That is the highest weekly total ever.
The forecasts are uncertain, the RIVM models show large margins. According to the cabinet, the OMT ‘did not advise’ on Friday to announce a hard lockdown. The OMT will meet again next Friday – earlier if necessary.
This week, the cabinet will send a number of bills to parliament, including the introduction of the controversial 2G policy (which excludes unvaccinated people) and the corona pass obligation in education and in the workplace. These interventions are intended as an ‘extra lock on the door’ after the short blow of the mild lockdown. If these rules get a parliamentary majority (which is uncertain), it is also questionable when they will come into effect. First, the corona figures have to come down considerably.
According to Minister Hugo de Jonge, the Netherlands is ‘not yet’ at the last phase of code black:
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