A further 9,292 new coronavirus cases were reported to public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Friday morning, down from Thursday’s high of 9,648 but still well above the weekly average.
However, the number of coronavirus patients in hospital fell by 69 overnight to 2,613, of whom 837 are being treated in an IC ward.
Despite the slight decline, acute care association chairman Diederik Gommers told podcast Virusfeiten that some hospital chiefs have told him they expect to be in the highest level of crisis – code black – next week, if cases continue to rise.
In ‘code black’ hospital staff are forced to choose who gets an intensive care bed – a situation which has not yet arisen during the pandemic.
‘At the moment, hospitals are changing their schedules and delaying treatment,’ he said. ‘Chemotherapy, cancer operations and heart operations are being postponed… we have not been in this position in the second and third waves. Colleagues are concerned about how few IC beds are available.’
Nevertheless, Gommers declined to criticize the government’s decision to end the curfew and allow pavement cafes to open for limited hours, saying it is good that the cabinet weighs up wider interests.
‘But I do hope that somewhere is a red stop button we can use before Tuesday if things really do go wrong,’ he said.
According to website Nu.nl, some 600 people who should be in hospital are actually being treated at home. The figures come from patient monitoring body LCPS.
The patients are not ill enough to need intensive care nursing and are being monitored remotely by hospitals, Nu.nl said.
So far 15 hospitals have introduced tele-monitoring. The Jeroen Bosch hospital in Den Bosch is treating 60 patients at home, while 45 people are being monitored by the Elisabeth-TweeSteden hospital in Tilburg.
Meanwhile, ministers have agreed that churches, synagogues and mosques can be closed for 10 days if that helps put out localized outbreaks, health minister Hugo de Jonge said.
The decision is in line with recommendations from the Council of State, the government’s highest advisory body.
The government is planning to bring in new legislation allowing local authorities to shut companies, shops, cafes and bars if a large number of infections can be traced back to them. Places of worship would have been exempt on freedom of religion grounds.
Some of the biggest coronavirus hotbeds in the Netherlands have been Christian council areas, according to research by Trouw at the end of last year.
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