A further 43 people died of coronavirus overnight in the Netherlands, while the number of positive tests rose by 573, the public health institute RIVM said on Sunday.
In total, 179 people have now died and 4,204 people have tested positive. Those who died were aged between 57 and 97, the RIVM said in its latest update.
The real number of sufferers will be higher because testing is mainly restricted to people who are so ill that they have to be hospitalised, and healthcare workers who have been exposed to the virus.
Health officials said on Sunday that 405 coronavirus patients are currently being treated in intensive care wards in Dutch hospitals, most of them in Noord-Brabant.
There are 1,150 intensive care beds in the Netherlands, of which around half are being kept free for coronavirus patients. Others are also being freed up as planned operations are postponed and nursing staff are being reallocated to intensive care units as pressure on ordinary wards is reduced.
Convoys of patients are also being moved to other hospitals around the country.
‘This situation can last for months and the number of patients could be so great that we won’t have enough IC personnel,’ Farid Adbo, a specialist at the Radboud university teaching hospital in Nijmegen told broadcaster NOS.
‘Others are now being trained up because work in an IC unit is different to work in other wards,’ he said.
More than 80% of Dutch coronavirus patients are being treated at home, and of those who are admitted to hospital, 20% to 30% end up in intensive care, Adbo said.
‘The older the patient, the greater the toll IC takes on your body, and not everyone can or wants to undergo that,’ he said. ‘Sometimes people are deciding, together with their doctor, to die at home.’
Some three-quarters of Dutch coronavirus deaths were home or nursing home deaths. ‘This has nothing to do with the capacity at IC units,’ Adbo said. ‘We have enough capacity at the moment, so this is not being taken into account in assessing hospital admissions.’
The Dutch government imposed new measures to try to stop the spread of coronavirus a week ago. These include the closure of schools and telling people to keep at least 1.5 metres from others. Bars, restaurants and theatres have been shut since Friday 13.
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