Experts have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Rutte and the Minister for Health, Hugo de Jonge, warning that new coronavirus measures need to be taken within three days.
Last Tuesday, we saw the RIVM report that the number of new cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands had doubled, compared with the week before. Fears of a second wave abound, and there have been calls for face masks to become mandatory when people are outside their homes.
Minister de Jonge had previously asked for a group of experts to come up with recommendations for new coronavirus regulations that would be assessed in September. However, four of the experts who were asked felt that September was much too far away. They ask that the government introduce new measures within three days to stop a second wave occurring. These four experts are epidemiologists Arnold Bosman and Amrish Baidjoe, health economist Xander Koolman and former chief inspector of the Health Care Inspectorate Wim Schellekens.
What are the problems with the current approach?
The four experts make several points in their letter. They state that the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and the government have put too much blame on citizens for not following the regulations. They say that the language used by the government has not been clear enough, and that there has been a lack of communication in recent weeks.
They also say that the source and contact investigations have not been fast enough, and often have been incomplete. That, coupled with no mandatory quarantine for people arriving from risky areas (there is urgent advice to do so, but it is not mandatory), may have been what has caused the spike in new cases.
What measures do the experts recommend?
So what do these four experts recommend? First of all, face masks should be mandatory for both workers and customers in the catering and contact professions. “We believe that there is sufficient evidence for the protective effect of mouth masks. Let’s arrange for them to be used, for example, by hairdressers. Both staff and customers,” says Bosman. They also want more effective source and contact investigations, and a mandatory quarantine for people arriving from high risk areas.
Most importantly, they say, new measures need to be taken quickly. “Any delay in measures during a worsening epidemic will lead to a disproportionate increase in the ultimate number of victims. In our view, urgency is crucial.” You can view the letter that the experts sent here (in Dutch).
Which measures would you like to see implemented? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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