Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (2921)

Many immigrants lose faith in Dutch institutions the longer they live here

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Immigrants to the Netherlands with a ‘non-western background’ start out with having more faith in public institutions such as parliament and the police than the native Dutch, but the difference fades away over time, according to new research published by national statistics office CBS.

For example, 58% of people who moved to the Netherlands from South America, most of Asia and Africa less than five years ago have confidence in the Dutch civil service, but this figure is only 45% among the native population.

But among ‘non-western’ immigrants who have lived here for 40 years, only 43% have faith in civil servants, the research shows. The same trend is apparent across other institutions, the CBS says.

Confidence in politicians drops from 62% to 34% and faith in the European Union from 68% to 39%. Among the native population, the figures are 40% and 44% respectively.

By contrast, the views of immigrants from Europe and the US change little over time. CBS researchers suggest the difference may be down to countries of origin. People from countries which are more undemocratic or corrupt may be likely to have higher expectations of the Netherlands and become disillusioned the longer they live here.

At the same time discrimination may play a role, with people losing faith in institutions if they face racism and discrimination directly, the researchers suggest. The research is based on CBS statistics covering the period 2012 to 2019 in which 4,892 immigrants took part.

The CBS said in April it is to stop using the ‘western’ and ‘non-western’ categories when researching immigrants because they are ‘divisive’ and ‘set people apart’. It currently defines ‘non-western’ as people from Africa, South America or Asia (excluding Indonesia and Japan) or from Turkey.



Mass vaccination programme starts winding down, focus shifts to pop-up centres

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The 25 regional health boards are closing at least 73 vaccination locations in the coming weeks, replacing them by mobile units and pop-up locations, the AD reported on Wednesday.

Even though some 2.8 million people over the age of 12 have not yet had a single vaccination, the need for the large vaccination centres which can process thousands of people a day is winding down, the paper said.

The most recent figures from the government’s coronavirus dashboard show that over 60% of 15 million people over the age of 12 in the Netherlands are now fully protected against coronavirus.

Some 100,000 people a day are currently being vaccinated, compared with 200,000 a day in early June, and most of these are second doses, the AD said.

Thirteen of the 14 health board vaccination locations in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region will have been closed by the end of September, and six have already closed since July.

In Brabant 11 out of 14 centres will be closed in the coming month or so, and Friesland will shut four of its eight vaccination centres in two weeks.

Low rate

Meanwhile, the Volkskrant reports that some, but not all, local health boards are now focusing their attention on getting people in areas where the vaccination rate is low to have a jab after all.

Some are setting up pop-up locations in community centres, religious centres or at markets in an effort to attract doubters and those who have not yet made an appointment.

The results of these efforts are encouraging, the paper said, with thousands of people being vaccinated who might otherwise not have shown up for a jab.


The Friesland health board, for example, has vaccinated 1,500 people since June 2 using mobile centres, while the Flevoland, Gelderland Noord-Oost, Gelderland-Zuid and Groningen health boards will start such a programme in September.

Tailor-made solutions with local authorities allow the health boards to target their efforts where they are most needed.

In the four big cities, for example, some areas with large immigrant communities have had a low take-up rate so far but The Hague’s health board has carried out hundreds of vaccinations at a Ghanese church and a Chinese restaurant, a spokesman told the paper.

Areas with a high percentage of strict Protestants also often have low take-up rates. The former island of Urk, for example, has the lowest take up in the country, with less than 40% of its population have had at least one dose of vaccine.

Third dose

Germany and Israel have already agreed that their more vulnerable citizens should have a booster third jab, but the Dutch government has not yet taken a decision.

Should the Outbreak Management Team recommend a third dose, health minister Hugo de Jonge said he is not afraid that there will be a sudden lack of capacity.

‘We are working together with the health boards on different scenarios to allow a speed scale-up,’ a spokesman for the minister told the AD. ‘At the moment, it would be a waste of money to keep the big vaccination halls open.’



Side effects lab looks into impact of Covid vaccines on menstruation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch medical side effects centre Lareb says it has received more than 1,000 reports from women whose periods have been disrupted after being vaccinated for coronavirus.

The reports range from delayed menstruation, heavier menstruation and breakthrough bleeding in women who are going through the menopause, Lareb said on Tuesday. The reports are being analysed by the centre and as yet there is no clear link with the vaccine, Lareb said.

‘These sort of disruptions happen normally,’ director Agnes Kant told the AD. ‘But it could be that there is a side effect, possibly related to hormones. As yet, we can’t say much.’

There have been similar reports in other countries. In Britain, for example, The Times said in June that the UK’s vaccines watchdog had had over 4,000 similar notifications.

‘We’re aware some women have been reporting a change to their period cycle or symptoms during the pandemic, Sue Ward, vice president at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the Science Media Centre.

‘The degree to which changing hormone levels will affect someone is often informed by her psychological wellbeing at that time. We know that life events can make PMS symptoms feel worse and something as all-consuming and life-changing as a global pandemic could result in women experiencing their periods differently.’

Other experts suggest that any changes are mild and shortlived, and that the number of cases is no more than would be expected by chance.


In total, Lareb said it had received 112,677 reports of post coronavirus vaccine side effects, most of which relate to headaches, muscle pain and fatigue. The list includes 491 deaths, most of which were people over the age of 80.

In many cases, there was not sufficient information to determine if people had underlying health conditions, Lareb said. However, in number of cases, side effects caused by the vaccine, such as a raised temperature and nausea, could have contributed to ‘the worsening of an already fragile health situation or dormant underlying condition, whether or not due to old age,’ Lareb said.



Coronavirus infections plunge 44%, most people are not fully vaccinated

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of positive coronavirus tests has plunged 44% over the past week, and hospital admissions would also appear to have reached their peak, public health institute RIVM said in its weekly update on Tuesday.

A total of just over 21,000 positive tests were reported to the RIVM in the past seven days, compared with 37,000 in the week-earlier period.

The R number, or infection rate, has also gone down again to 0.69, the RIVM said. Of those with a positive test result, 11.5% had been fully vaccinated and 42% partially.

Most cases are still among people in their teens and 20s, who are least likely to have been fully vaccinated. So far some 21 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the Netherlands and over 60% of adults are fully protected.

RIVM research still shows some 90% plan to do so. Fewer people reporting to a regional health board test centre tested positive – 12.4% compared with 13.6% in the early seven-day period.

This figure does not include people who had a coronavirus test because they were planning to travel. In total, 28 people died in the past week, but that is a fraction of the number of deaths at the height of the pandemic.

The RIVM also said hospitalisations are down at 541 compared with 564 a week earlier. There was, however, a slight increase in admissions to Intensive Care, which totalled 130.

The more infections Delta variant of coronavirus now accounts for an estimated 88% of all cases in the Netherlands.



Festivals with up to 750 visitors can go ahead from mid August

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Small one-day outdoor festivals with up to 750 visitors can be held under strict conditions from August 14, the cabinet has decided.

But bigger events, with thousands of people, are still out of the question, even if they don’t involve overnight stays, ministers said on Monday.

To attend a small outdoor event – which can take place in a tent if all four sides are open – visitors will have to show they are fully vaccinated, have a negative test no older than 24 hours, or have had coronavirus within the past six months.

The organisers of festivals and events which cannot now go ahead can claim compensation from the government’s special coronavirus funds.

The cabinet’s decision follows recommendations from its Outbreak Management Team experts who say that it is only responsible to decide about small scale events at the moment.

The decision should have been taken on August 13 but has been brought forward at the request of event organisers who said they would take the cabinet to court unless they had clarity earlier.

Last week the cabinet decided that multi-day festivals could not be held until September 1 at least because of the infection risk. At least 62 clusters of at least 20 coronavirus infections were identified in the two weeks that restrictions on cafes, clubs and festivals were lifted, according to figures put together by public health institute RIVM.



Coronavirus infections continue to decline, drop on last Monday is almost 50%

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A total of 2,136 positive coronavirus tests were reported to public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Monday morning, down almost 50% on a week ago.

An average of 3,252 positive tests a day were registered in the past seven days, which is down 43% on the previous week and a further sign that the downward trend is steady.

As expected, however, the number of hospital patients continues to rise. In total, 719 people are now being treated for coronavirus in hospital. Of them, 197 are in an intensive care ward, according to figures from national patient monitor LCPS.

Cases of coronavirus have also been recorded in 148 nursing homes over the past two weeks, compared with 102 in the previous count. The RIVM will publish its latest weekly update on Tuesday, when the R figure and number of vaccinations will also be updated.



New coronavirus infections, hospital admissions decline

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A total of 3,463 new coronavirus cases were reported to the public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Friday morning, below the average of 4,160 per day over the past week.

At the same time, fewer people were admitted to hospital – 68 compared with a weekly average of 86 – according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

Blood donation service Sanquin now says 93% of blood donors have coronavirus antibodies, most of which is down to vaccinations.

The figure is not representative of the population because blood donors tend to be older. In total, some 60% of Dutch adults are now fully vaccinated.



Netherlands unlikely to introduce compulsory vaccination

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch employers and unions will not be lobbying for compulsory vaccination against coronovirus because the high vaccination rate in the Netherlands would make such a controversial move unnecessary, Dutch media report.

The reaction came as Google and Facebook introduced compulsory vaccination for their American-based staff and similar moves are underway elsewhere. However, the consistent refusal of part of the population to be vaccinated and the rapid spread of the virus may change this, the Financieele Dagblad said.

Earlier this month caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said considering the ‘very high vaccination rate’ there are no plans to make vaccination compulsory but that ‘nothing can be ruled out completely in a pandemic’.

A spokesman for employers’ organisation VNO-NCW told the paper compulsory vaccination ‘is not an issue for members at all’. ‘Some 90% of people are willing to be vaccinated, that is extremely high.

There is no need for further measures,’ he said. Union FNV said it had not had any complaints from workers who had been pressurised into getting vaccinated by their employers.

‘What Facebook and Google are doing is simply not allowed here,’ a spokesman said. However, labour law lawyer Katja van Kranenburg, who has been fielding questions about the subject on a weekly basis from international employers, said that this is not the case.

‘The European privacy regulations do provide an opening for this, contrary to popular opinion,’ Van Kranenburg claimed. ‘I think that in a healthy democracy this should be a matter for debate and should not be left up to employers to organise in a grey area.’

While compulsory vaccination is not yet being contemplated for any groups in this country, France and Italy are already introducing compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers.

That would be a start, Van Kranenburg told the paper. Labour law regulations should be adapted to allow employers in high-risk professions to demand staff be vaccinated. She also pointed out that businesses may be held liable for damages by coronavirus patients who have been infected at work because of a lack of preventive measures.

Such a move would be very likely to flounder as most political parties are not in favour of compulsory vaccination, the NRC pointed out. Self-determination and the integrity of the body are enshrined in the Dutch constiution and the European Convention of Human Rights.

The consensus is that the government cannot force people to get the vaccine. People’s willingness to be vaccinated is ‘our trump card’, the paper quoted caretaker health minister Hugo de Jonge as saying.

To bring the matter up for debate could have an opposite effect, he warned earlier this week.



130 people at Verknipt festival had coronavirus before they arrived: GGD

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least 130 people who attended the Vernipt techo festival in Utrecht earlier this month were probably already infected with coronavirus when they came in, the regional health board said on Thursday.

Over 1,100 people have tested positive for coronavirus since attending the two-day festival but the outbreak is unlikely to have been caused by a single super spreader, the health board’s infectious disease specialist says.

Putri Hintaran studied data from the festival and information generated by contact tracing afterwards. She now says it is likely that in one third of the cases she is researching, the person already had coronavirus when they arrived.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud with QR codes, she said. Instead, many of the festival goers did not know they were infected because fast tests of up to 40 hours old were being accepted as proof of being coronavirus-free.

That has now been cut back to 24 hours. The government has also brought in a ban on festivals with large groups of people.


Meanwhile, the 200 infections picked up at the Aspen Valley disco in Enschede are now thought to be down to one person. Council research suggests that the surge in cases was down to a super spreader who had a negative coronavirus test, website reported.


In an effort to control the virus under the young, the Zeeland health board is handing out free self-tests to people staying on popular campsite. The Duin en Strand campsite is extremely popular with youngsters and has space for 1,700 guests a week.

‘We want to prevent them infecting their parents and grandparents when they get home from holiday,’ a spokeswoman told local broadcaster Omroep Zeeland.



Ventilation in Dutch bars falls far below the WHO norm: NRC

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch rules surrounding ventilation in bars and restaurants are well below the norm recommended by the World Health Organisation, the NRC reported on Thursday.

A new law on the sale of alcohol which came into force on July 1 and which is meant to curb alcohol abuse, particularly among the young, also lowered the ventilation norm for bars and restaurants.

Instead of a complete change of air every ten minutes, the new law stipulates an hourly air change for existing premises, in accordance with the Bouwbesluit, a health and safety guideline which is not aimed at reducing infections but at limiting smells, experts told the paper.

They said the outgoing cabinet has ‘acted irresponsibly’ by lowering the norm at a time when bars have been an important source of coronavirus infections. Health institute RIVM was not asked for advice, the paper found.

A spokesman called the new ventilation norm ‘minimal’. The government’s Outbreak Management Team has advised stricter ventilation norms although it is not known which levels of ventilation are necessary to prevent infection in closed spaces.

As yet it is unclear if the government will follow the OMT recommendation. Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte admitted earlier this month that the importance of good ventilation has not been ‘communicated well’ but this only referred to people’s homes, which he said should be ventilated every 15 minutes.


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