Saturday 31 October 2020

National measures loom as coronavirus cases rise, experts say


National measures will be needed to get the coronavirus outbreak under control again, experts and hospital bosses have told the AD and the Telegraaf.

Now that eight more areas are about to be placed in special measures because they have so many more coronavirus cases, there is no point in having a regional approach, Utrecht University epidemiologist Hans Heesterbeek told the AD.

Coroanvirus is spreading out from the central urban belt ‘like an oil leak’, he said. ‘This is not something you can solve with regional measures. People are travelling from one region to another. There is too much mingling for regional measures to be effective.’

Bart Berden, director of the Elisabeth-TweeSteden hospital in Tilburg, said that he too considered national measures are the only option, if ministers decide to intervene. ‘What is the point in having regional measures if you see that the regions are becoming more similar in terms of infection rates?,’ he said to the paper.

Last Friday, prime minister Mark Rutte announced that bars and cafes in the six worst affected areas would have to close their doors at midnight, and brought in new limits on numbers at organised gatherings.

And on Wednesday it emerged that eight more regional health boards are also set to be included in the tougher approach. The total number of positive tests in the Netherlands has topped 13,400 in the past week.

Ernst Kuipers, head of the national acute care network LCPS, told the Telegraaf that hospitals are now scrambling to keep up with the spread. The number of hospital patients has almost doubled from 245 to 475 in the past week and 104 people are now in intensive care.

‘We had expected this in September, but I am concerned,’ Kuipers said. ‘The number of hospital admissions is rising by more than 10% every day, and that is too much.’


Most coronavirus patients are in hospital in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden, and Leiden’s teaching hospital has already said it will cancel some operations which had been planned.

Several coronavirus patients have also already been moved to other areas to relieve pressure on their local hospitals.The number of IC beds is due to be scaled up to 1,350 by the beginning of October.

Staff shortages are an added problem and many doctors and nurses are still suffering from the stress of the first wave. ‘I think we really need to take a total lockdown into account,’ Theo Immers, chairman of the national burnout prevention centre NCPSB. told the Telegraaf.

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