In the Netherlands, one of the main priorities is to ensure that the hospitals, nursing homes and home care services are not overwhelmed, so there is always enough capacity in the healthcare system to treat those infected. In addition, the government wants to protect vulnerable groups. Various approaches have been considered for how the Netherlands can respond to the spread of the virus.
These scenarios vary from complete nation-wide lockdown to the other extreme: allowing the virus to run its course.
At this point in time the government, based on scientific insights, has opted for the middle road:
Maximum control of the virus.
It means working together to ensure that people follow the hygiene rules, avoid public venues (such as cafés, schools and events), and maintain physical distance from each other. By taking this approach, it can be ensured that people will infect each other less easily. This is known as social distancing. The virus will not be able to spread as quickly, and the infections will be spread out over a longer period (“flatten the curve”). That leads to a controlled spread among the groups least at risk. Read about the actual measures in force today.
According to the National Institute of Public Health (RIVM) there are three strategic advantages to this approach:
- Most people will experience only minor symptoms and recover from the virus without medical assistance.
- Most people will build immunity, so the virus has less and less chance to make other people sick, creating the “protective wall around the vulnerable older people and people with underlying health issues”, as the Prime Minister put it.
- The hospitals, nursing homes and home care services are not overwhelmed, so there is always enough capacity in our healthcare system. And that includes the Intensive Care Units where the most vulnerable patients are placed.
The National Institute of Public Health (RIVM) is monitoring the progress of the outbreak very closely. New information or developments are always incorporated into the advisory reports that the RIVM provides to the government, to enable them to decide whether to continue or ease current restrictions or implement stricter measures.
At the RIVM you can find answers to the questions you may have about the Dutch approach.