The North Brabant city of Bergen op Zoom has had more than 14% of coronavirus tests from the past week return positive. The national average is 2.3%, according to RIVM. 

The tests in the city were conducted between August 1-9. “The figures are substantial given the national average,” Bergen op Zoom Mayor, Frank Petter, told NOS. The national average is expected to increase to around 3.5% this week.

Why is the infection rate so high?

Bergen op Zoom sits close to the Belgian border, resulting in an influx of day-trippers looking to shop. “I would like to say to the Belgians: you are more than welcome to shop or have a bite to eat, but not now,” says Petter.

The mayor will discuss a potential face mask requirement on Thursday. The town is also implementing extra checks on catering, supermarkets, and garden centres in the near future.

Outbreak at a mosque

Additionally, one test street next to El-Feth mosque recorded 53 positive infections out of 452 total tests — an infection rate of almost 12%. Approximately half of the 139 infections in Bergen op Zoom are people from the Moroccan-Dutch community.

Petter then makes a link between the Eid-ul-Adha Muslim holiday celebrations and the mosque. Najib el Allouchi, of the El-Feth mosque, told Omroep Brabant the test results were “a wake-up call.”

“Not just for us, but for the whole city. We shouldn’t think that Corona is on vacation,” he says.

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