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Dutch coronavirus infections increase before blocking eases

Dutch interim Prime Minister Mark Rutte defended his decision to ease his country’s blockade next week, even after the Netherlands registered 9,648 new coronavirus infections

The Hague, The Netherlands – Interim Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte defended on Thursday his decision to ease his country’s blockade next week, even after the Netherlands recorded 9,648 new coronavirus infections – the biggest daily increase since January .

The national health authority also said that the high number of patients with COVID-19 in the country means that more than a third of Dutch hospitals are no longer able to perform planned intensive care and almost all hospitals are delaying less urgent medical procedures.

“The number of COVID in ICUs is high and on the rise,” said the National Coordination Center for Patient Distribution. The number of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units increased from 17 to 839 on the last day.

Still, the country is preparing to ease its blockade next week.

Rutte announced on Tuesday that the curfew across the country from 10:30 pm to 4:30 pm, in effect since January, will end on April 28, when bars and restaurants will be able to reopen the terraces – under strict conditions – from noon to 6 pm .

Shoppers will no longer need to make an appointment to visit non-essential stores, although the number of customers per store is still strictly limited.

Rutte said in a parliamentary debate on Thursday that his government is prepared to take an “acceptable risk” by easing restrictions because the modeling shows a decline in infections and hospitalizations likely in early May.

“This also has to do with the broader social assessment and we believe it is a responsible risk,” he said.

Bars and other places of accommodation have been closed since mid-October and have been pushing for weeks to reopen them.

In the debate in Parliament, opposition leader of the Labor Party, Lilianne Ploumen, asked the government to cancel the relaxation of the rules.

The 7-day continuous average of new daily cases in the Netherlands increased in the last two weeks from 40.8 new cases per 100,000 people on April 7 to 47.9 new cases per 100,000 people on April 21. pandemic.

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