Countries around the world have taken different approaches to combat the spread of the coronavirus. While some countries have opted for a complete lockdown, the Netherlands has so far chosen a different approach.
Despite the Netherlands closing down all venues like restaurants, clubs, museums and brothels, it has not yet chosen to do a complete lockdown like in other countries.
To quarantine or not to quarantine
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, says a complete lockdown of the country is not currently necessary. In a debate with the Dutch parliament however, he did not eliminate the possibility that more measures may need to be taken in order to combat the virus. Currently, Rutte’s approach is approved by a majority of Parliament.
Which by the way, was almost empty because of coronavirus measures in parliament.
The Dutch parliament is curtailing its normal sessions, limiting in-person debates to subjects related to coronavirus https://t.co/yiLwn6AZAq
— Matt BREAKING NEWS Steinglass (@mattsteinglass) March 16, 2020
The reasoning behind not undertaking a complete lockdown is because there is a chance that once measures are relaxed, there is a high chance that the virus will simply re-emerge again. This has been confirmed by Dutch experts who lead the way on the current governmental approach on the issue.
What about group immunity?
Rutte’s speech on Monday, in which he mentioned the need for group immunity, did not go unquestioned by the political parties. In Rutte’s vision, the measure has two main goals: protecting vulnerable groups such as the elderly and making sure that the healthcare system does not get overwhelmed by many cases. “Immunity is not a goal, but an effect of the policy,” confirms Rutte.
Another point the prime minister made is that while the Dutch government is making their decisions based on the advice of experts, they do not ignore the pleas coming from civic society. As such, the closure of schools on Monday happened because “society made a democratic decision.”
It’s easy to criticize and second-guess the strategies being used to manage the spread (and I have done this a little bit myself).
But genuine thoughts and prayers for those who actually have to make decisions which could save or kill thousands. An awful, awful burden.
— Ben Coates (@bencoates1) March 17, 2020
Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet are pushing for complete lockdown
Wilders from the PVV and Baudet from the Forum of Democracy wish to implement a complete lockdown as in other countries. They do not believe in the Dutch approach of group immunity, as it is unknown if people who are cured cannot get sick again, therefore making it a risky option. It’s interesting to see, however, these generally two patriotic Dutch politicians following expert (and scientific) advice from other countries rather than the Netherlands as they usually opt for a different path.
Minister Bruins passes out during debate
The Minister of Health, Mr Bruins, passed out during the debate, exhausted after some intense weeks of working. The debate was suspended and Mr Bruins was allowed to go home to take the rest. The debate then resumed and continued without him, later he tweeted that he was just tired.
— DutchReview (@Dutchreviewing) March 18, 2020
Earlier in the debate, Minister Bruins confirmed that the cabinet will start buying and collecting face masks for protection against the virus and might even confiscate them if unjust prices are asked for them. The country is currently undergoing a shortage of protective face masks, but the minister promised millions of masks will arrive in the country. 140,000 masks became available this past Wednesday.
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Image: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas/Wikimedia