SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of people testing positive for coronavirus reached 2,588 in the past week, almost double the previous week’s total, although there are very wide regional variations, the public health institute RIVM said on Tuesday.
The rise in cases has prompted prime minister Mark Rutte to hold a press conference about the pandemic on Thursday at 7pm, his first to discuss coronavirus since June 24.
Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will ‘make the current situation clear, focus on the situation in specific regions and, if necessary, introduce regional support measures,’ the state information service said.
In total, 44 people have been admitted to hospital in the seven days to August 4, up 21 on the previous week, the RIVM said in its weekly update. Six more people have died of the virus, three down on a week ago.
At the same time, the percentage of positive tests has more than doubled, from 1% last week to 2.3%. Officials are currently investigating 242 active clusters – well up on the 109 confirmed clusters of three or more cases in the previous week.
‘The increase can be seen in Zuid-Holland, followed by Noord-Holland and Noord-Brabant,’ the RIVM said. Noord-Brabant was the main source of the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands in February and March.
Most of the clusters and the highest proportion of positive tests are also in these areas, while in the northern provinces there were no hospital admissions and only a handful of positive tests.
In total, 101,905 people were tested for the virus in the week to August 4, down slightly on the previous week. Local health boards say they are keen to ensure that everyone with even mild symptoms should come for testing.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam are introducing compulsory face masks in busy places from Wednesday, in an effort to make people more aware of the need for social distancing.
That has been made possible by the government’s decision last month to introduce a more regionalised approach to tackling coronavirus. Meanwhile, the RIVM said 8.4% of the people testing positive in the previous two weeks had recently been abroad, although it is not known where they picked up the virus.