The Netherlands has posted record figures for new coronavirus infections every day since Monday, a surge that Dutch officials are calling “downright terrible” as the country joins much of Europe in grappling with a second Covid-19 wave.
- The Netherlands saw 2,777 new coronavirus infections on Friday and 2,544 on Thursday, Reuters reported, almost double its previous record of 1,394 cases, which was set during the height of the country’s April surge.
- Cases in the Netherlands have risen gradually since early August, weeks after the country reopened restaurants and lifted the light restrictions it set during the spring, but the country is now watching a rapid uptick in cases and hospitalizations.
- Between September 15 and 22, the country’s weekly case count soared by more than 60%, and the percentage of positive coronavirus tests jumped from 3.9% to 6.1%, above the 5% benchmark the World Health Organization considers controlled.
- Dutch bars, restaurants, schools and gyms are still open and, unlike in most European countries, the Netherlands has resisted calls to require face masks in crowded public spaces, arguing that they are not effective if people use them incorrectly.
- Prime Minister Mark Rutte plans to roll out new restrictions to control the virus’ spread next week, though he did not elaborate on these new rules.
6,287. That’s the total number of coronavirus deaths in the Netherlands, according to figures from the World Health Organization. Despite the recent uptick in cases, the country’s daily death count is still fairly low, reporting fewer than 10 new fatalities per day.
When coronavirus first hit the Netherlands in March, the country did not impose a full-blown lockdown like France or Italy. Instead, it kept stores open and allowed residents to leave their homes freely, opting only to close face-to-face businesses like restaurants and hairdressers. This “intelligent lockdown” system, which mirrored Sweden’s controversial strategy, was designed to build up immunity to the virus among younger and less vulnerable residents. The Netherlands ultimately saw more per capita Covid-19 infections than some of its neighbors over the spring, but the country began reopening restaurants and schools when the virus began to subside in May. Now, as cases rebound significantly and businesses and schools remain open, the country is weighing new restrictions.
“The figures look downright terrible,” Prime Minister Rutte said Friday. “In short, the situation is very worrisome and will force us to take extra measures.”
The Netherlands is not the only European country where coronavirus cases are rising. Spain and France are struggling with a second wave of the virus after their strict lockdowns were lifted over the summer, prompting both countries’ governments to close restaurants in some areas and urge residents to stay home.