The coronavirus is now officially a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.
While other countries are closing down their borders, quarantining entire areas and banning international travels, the Netherlands is still taking a relaxed approach, reports NOS.
Currently, the only advice from the RIVM (Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) is still very much the same as it was last week. Wash your hands, avoid handshakes and to stay at home in case you feel you have a cold.
Slightly stricter measures apply in Noord Brabant, where its recommended to avoid social contact with others, with some events in the province being cancelled.
So, given the strong measures implemented by other countries, shouldn’t the Netherlands pick up the slack and also do more about the outbreak? According to crisis management experts, everything is still alright, the only thing that needs to be done is that the government needs to improve their communication about the situation, the experts stated to NOS.
‘Dutch approach considered the best approach’
Marco Zannoni, who is the director of the Institute for Security and Crisis Management considers that it is best to follow the advice of experts (in this case, the RIVM) and that the approach to the crisis needs to be done based on expertise, not on emotion.
Ira Helsloot, from the Crisis Lab of the Radboud University, goes as far as to call the Dutch approach the only right one. He sees tougher measures such as the quarantining of provinces as too extreme and damaging.
Mr. Hesloot then goes on and calls Italy’s approach ‘dumb’. In his vision, the coronavirus will soon be gone, but the economy will be deeply affected given Italy’s intense measures to contain the outbreak.
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, said on Monday, during a conference about the coronavirus, that he is not planning on taking tougher measures for the time being. He considers that the Dutch people are down to earth people and that they do not want symbolic measures against the virus.
BREAKING (and sort of funny): right after officially advising the Dutch people that they shouldn't shake hand anymorein daily life because of the #coronavirus : Dutch Primeminister Rutte does this:pic.twitter.com/e0ZoLdyuSp
— DutchReview (@Dutchreviewing) March 9, 2020
Government ought to communicate more about the crisis
Zannoni and other experts consider that the government should communicate more clearly about its actions, especially given the fact that the differences between the Dutch approach and other countries are becoming obvious.
According to Helsloot, even the decisions that have been communicated might not have reached all people, such as (elderly) parents, who are a vulnerable group.
The biggest challenge for the Netherlands according to Zannnoni is for the government to have the ability to continue justifying the measures they are taking (or lack thereof).
So, how are you feeling about these messages from the Dutch experts?
Feature Image: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/Wikimedia Commons