New measures to combat the spread of coronavirus are very likely to be introduced in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague after the weekend, prime minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference on Friday.
The situation in much of the country is worrying, and eight new regions are being added to the list of six areas which are already in special measures, Rutte said.
But the situation in the Randstad area is of great concern, he said: ‘We are also in talks with the mayors of the three cities and have asked our Outbreak Management Team to give extra advice on Monday about what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus there.’
He declined to say if this could include a lockdown in the three big cities. It is not just about the measures, Rutte said. ‘It is about our behaviour; it is about keeping to the rules.’
‘What I would say to the people of my city, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam is to ask what you can do to reduce the risk,’ Rutte said. ‘The impact on healthcare and hospitals is serious and further measures will also have an impact on our economy.’
Figures from the public health institute RIVM show 2,777 more positive tests were registered in the 24 hours to Friday morning, up more than 200 on Thursday. The infection rate per 100,000 is now more than seven – the red flag number – in 21 of the 25 Dutch safety board regions.
The number of coronavirus patients being treated in Dutch intensive care units has doubled in a week to 116, new figures from the national coordination centre show. A week ago there were 58 people in IC units, and two weeks ago just 36.
The figures show a similar development in ordinary hospital wards. There are now 431 coronavirus patients in hospital, compared with 136 two weeks ago. In total, 547 coronavirus patients have been hospitalised in the last two weeks.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to take tough new nationwide action to stop the spread of the virus and Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has also said he feels the time is right for national, not regional measures.
‘If you see that eight more regions are being described as worrying, and most big cities are in the regions already in special measures, then you have to ask what is left of the regional approach?’ he said.