Monday 21 September 2020

Fourth coronavirus death confirmed in NL, infection total reaches 382

The coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands has claimed its fourth life, the national health institute RIVM said on Tuesday.

Like the others, the latest victim is an elderly patient with underlying health issues, the RIVM said in its daily update.

The total number of confirmed infections in the Netherlands has grown by a further 61 to 382 and the source of 156 infections, including most of the new ones, has not yet been established.

Many of the new cases are again in Noord Brabant province, where the total number of infections has risen to 157.

Hospital

Tests on 301 members of staff with common cold symptoms at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Ziekenhuis in Tilburg have identified 28 cases of coronavirus, none of whom were in the risk areas, or who are known to have had contact with another patient, broadcaster RTL said on Tuesday afternoon.

It is not clear if some are included in 61 new cases announced by the RIVM earlier in the day. The RIVM introduced testing on healthcare workers in Brabant in an effort to find out why the disease was spreading in the province. The results in five other hospitals have not yet been made public.

Expert advice

Health minister Bruno Bruins told MPs on Tuesday that the Netherlands is taking the appropriate measures to contain the spread of the disease and that all decisions are based on expert advice.

Some parties have questioned whether the government is doing enough and the anti-immigration PVV, for example, has called for the borders to be closed to people from certain countries and for large events to be cancelled.

If more drastic action is needed, the Netherlands is ready, Bruins said.

On Monday, the government announced new measures to try to stop the spread, and said everyone in the southern province should work from home if at all possible.

Coronavirus in the Netherlands: what you need to know

Officials say this would appear to be working, with far fewer cars on the roads in rush hour. In addition, thousands of children have been kept home from school because either they or their teachers have symptoms.

On Monday, prime minister Mark Rutte said that new hygiene recommendations include a halt to handshakes as a greeting. This, an RIVM spokesman told website Nu.nl, means that physical contact between all but close family members should be avoided, including the customary three-kisses greeting.

ABN Amro bank said on Tuesday that half its staff can work from home from tomorrow in order to reduce the number of people coming in to the office. The other half will work at the office and then make the switch to home working from next week.

In addition, the bank has cancelled all events and work trips and instructed staff not to shake hands with customers. ‘We all want to keep the company operational,’ a spokesman told the Financieele Dagblad.

The bank has a workforce of 18,000 of whom around 80% are based in the Netherlands.

Rabobank has divided the workforce responsible for payment traffic into three teams – one group will work at home, one at the Utrecht headquarters and one will work at regional bank offices. This, the bank says, means payments can still be processed and atms stocked with cash.

Rabobank has also cancelled meetings for more than 50 people.

More events are being postponed. Political party GroenLinks has cancelled its annual party congress, due to have been held in Den Bosch, in Noord-Brabant at the weekend as a precautionary measure.

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