The Netherlands is now among the top three countries in the European Union with the highest number of coronavirus infections relative to size, alongside Spain and France. Other EU countries have been surprised by and critical of the Dutch government’s policies.
In early September, the Netherlands was still comparable to its neighbouring countries in terms of relative infections. The drastic uptick in Dutch infections since then has drawn widespread international attention and scrutiny, reports NOS. French newspaper, Le Monde, calls the mention of face masks in the Netherlands, “the subject of a heated discussion.”
In regard to the idea that infections would not transfer from young people to the older age group, Flemish virologist Marc van Ranst says, “That was nonsense.” He saw the same misconception in Belguim and says, “The virus passes from young people to their parents and then to their grandparents, we see that happening day after day.”
A Norwegian response
Taking steps based on the number of new infections isn’t the solution. Amrish Baidjoe is a field epidemiologist and microbiologist in Norway, where daily infections are six times lower than in the Netherlands. Baidjoe calls the Dutch approach, “steering in the fog.”
He says the Netherlands needs to look at more than just the numbers. “That is an indicator that is good in itself but has the necessary delay.” He says, “It’s difficult to make a policy on the number of positive cases because in the Netherlands we are running up against the limits of test capacity.” At that point, the cabinet may be too late to intervene. The scientist warns, “We need to see the big picture.”
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Feature Image: Sam Dixon/DutchReview