Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have declined for the third week in a row, but at a slower rate than in the first week of the extra lockdown measures.
The latest weekly update from the public health agency RIVM recorded a 13.6% drop in the weekly total, from 43,621 to 37,706. The positive test rate also declined slightly from 14.5% to 13.8%, still far above the proportion of below 1% during the summer.
Ministers are expected to confirm on Tuesday night that the extra rules that came into force on November 4 to speed up the downward trend will be lifted from Thursday, despite the slowdown in the decline.
Libraries, swimming pools, zoos and museums will all be allowed to reopen and the number of people allowed outside together or as visitors at home will increase from two to four.
The daily figure was lower for the fourth successive day, with 4,320 new cases in the 24 hours to 10am on Tuesday. That number is 547 lower than Monday’s figure and 7.4% below the level last Tuesday, after which cases rose above 6,000 before dipping again.
Last week also saw the first downturn in Covid-19 deaths since the second wave began. In the past seven days 479 people died after being diagnosed with the virus, compared to 565 the previous week.
However, hospital patient numbers increased for the second day in a row by 15 to 2,146, including 576 in intensive care – three more than yesterday.
Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge are expected to postpone any decisions about what rules will be in place over the Christmas holidays at Tuesday evening’s press conference.
De Jonge said on Tuesday after meeting cabinet colleagues that the number of cases was still too high to lift the partial lockdown that was introduced on October 13, meaning bars, restaurants and cafes will remain shut. People have also been urged not to travel abroad during the Christmas break to avoid reimporting the virus.
‘We need to watch out that we don’t unwittingly cause ourselves a third wave under the Christmas tree,’ said De Jonge.
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