COVID-19 | Coronavirus

the Netherlands reinforce measures but do not decree containment

A medical staff member is about to take a sample for the presence or absence of the coronavirus during a screening campaign in Amsterdam on March 24.
A medical staff member is about to take a sample for the presence or absence of the coronavirus during a screening campaign in Amsterdam on March 24. ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN / AFP

The announcement by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday (March 23rd) of containment for the residents of his country has left the Dutch authorities quite upset. Until now, they have stuck to the idea of ​​”collective immunity” – or group immunity.

Defended initially in London, this theory according to which a wide diffusion of a virus would support immunity and, thus, to better counter the pandemic, is still favored by the authorities in the Netherlands, reluctant to the prospect restrictive measures which, according to them, are almost impossible to enforce in their country. In any case, the government of Mark Rutte dismisses the objections of scientists, who affirm that group immunity is only justified in the perspective of the rapid development of a vaccine.

Stores closed

A little before the intervention of Boris Johnson, the government had decided, Monday, in The Hague, to strengthen its arsenal of measures to try to counter a worrying development: according to the last count, the country had, Tuesday, 276 deaths ( or 63 more in a single day), 5,560 contaminations and 1,495 hospitalizations, a third of which were in intensive care. A comparison with the curve of Italy at the start of the pandemic shows a similarity, when the country has only 17.2 million inhabitants – for 60.1 million Italians.

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From now on, any gathering will be prohibited untiler June, fines will be imposed on offenders and mayors are authorized to close public spaces. For example, the gardens, woods and beaches where the walkers were still massed last weekend. The central secondary school leaving exams – the equivalent of the baccalaureate – will be abolished and students will graduate on the basis of their results during the year. The list of closed stores is growing, although toy and home appliance stores may continue to welcome customers. The casinos will have to remain closed, like the bars, restaurants and gyms that have been closed since March 16.

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” Serious misconduct “

Little respected so far, will the instructions of “social distancing” be more so? “I hope that containment will not be necessary”, said Mr. Rutte, without excluding that one day, recourse to this highly unpopular decision in this country which elevates individual freedom as an ideal.

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