SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Local health boards are concerned about the rise in coronavirus cases, saying that risky behaviour, particularly among the under-40s, is stopping them in doing their job properly.
The 25 regional health boards are charged with carrying out mass testing on people with coronavirus symptoms, as well as tracing the contacts of people who test positive.
‘We are seeing a rise in infections in social situations at home and in cafes and bars,’ the health boards’ umbrella organisation GGD GHOR said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
‘People are not keeping 1.5 metres distance and there is more partying with increasingly close contacts,’ the organisation said. ‘There are also more organised events such as weddings and funerals at which the 1.5 metre rule is not being observed.’
In addition, officials say, some people are refusing to go into quarantine when they have been in contact with a coronavirus patient, while others are refusing to share the names of people they have been in contact with.
‘All the contract tracing we are doing shows that people are not meeting the official guidelines,’ the statement said. ‘If people don’t stick to the rules, it makes our job impossible.’
On Tuesday, public health institute RIVM published new figures showing the number of positive tests had almost doubled in a week to 2,588, while fewer tests were carried out.
Meanwhile, police in Rotterdam have fined ‘several people’ who took part in a demonstration against the introduction of face masks in busy parts of the port city.
Amsterdam has also introduced compulsory masks in the red-light district and busy shopping streets but has said it will focus first on warning people rather than issuing fines.
The legal basis for the fines is still in doubt, with lawyers arguing that local officials do not have the power to force people to wear masks, in an effort to change their behaviour and boost social distancing.
At least 3,000 people have so far appealed against fines for infringing the coronavirus rules – mostly for not social distancing. In total, 15,000 had been issued between March and the end of June.
The Telegraaf reported on Wednesday that red light strip club La Vie en Proost is at the centre of a coronavirus scare, after at least 10 of the workforce of 40 tested positive. The club has been closed for at least two weeks.
The club is the fourth hospitality sector location to be shut in the Dutch capital because of Covid-19 infections. Prime minister Mark Rutte is due to hold a press conference on Thursday evening to outline the latest situation and possibly to introduce more regional measures to stop the spread of the virus.