SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will hold a new press conference on Friday, a week earlier than planned.
De Jonge said the decision had been taken following a meeting with ministers because the outlook for containing coronavirus, with the current infection rate on the upper end of estimates, is both gloomy and worrying.
The government’s health advisory team will meet on Wednesday evening to make recommendations on new measures. Several members of the OMT have been pressing for a lockdown to curb the rise in new cases.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to act, as the number of positive tests is rising by around 40% a week, and some hospitals say they can no longer cope.
The government has already introduced new measures this week, but without the usual formal announcement. Social distancing is back from Wednesday, primary schools have published new rules for parents and visitors and self-tests are now being recommended for people with symptoms but no other health issues.
On Tuesday evening, two high profile government health advisors went public with their concerns about the government’s strategy for dealing with the surge in coronavirus cases, and called for a tough response.
Diederik Gommers, head of the Dutch intensive care association, has warned that hospitals will be faced with a ‘code black’ situation, in which they are forced to choose who to treat, within 10 days.
On Tuesday, new figures national health council NZa said 49 out of the 73 Dutch hospitals are delaying non-essential treatments and operating theatre capacity has been cut by 29%.