In the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Prime Minister Rutte calls for looking after each other and King Willem-Alexander states: ” We cannot stop the corona virus. What we can do is stop the loneliness virus! Social distance is recommended. Care homes for the elderly are closed to visitors. Visiting the elderly and people with weakened immune systems is not recommended. It is appealed to help elderly people to do the shopping for them, call them, write letters so that they do not remain in social isolation. Special hours are introduced in stores during which only elderly people can make purchases to protect them against infection. Special telephone numbers are introduced for lonely people to call and have a chat. Special platforms and actions are initiated to fight with social isolation.
Church services are held via internet. In the case of funerals, the number of people present is limited by the regulations (no more than 30 people) and other forms of expressing compassion than handshaking or hugging are recommended.
In the Netherlands, museums, cinemas, theaters, restaurants and sports clubs are closed. Cinemas, museums offer screenings and online exhibitions. Restaurants offer take away menus.
Schools and universities offer online education at home. However, the new rules do not apply to parents of children in Dutch schools in so-called important occupations, they can attend school and kindergarten. To these professions, important for the functioning of the Netherlands, the Dutch government includes, among others doctors, medical services, teachers, police, fire brigade, media, employees of transport and public transport companies as well as government officials.
People throughout the Netherlands are encouraged to work from home.It is recommended to stay at home if you have a cold, cough, sore throat or fever to keep a distance of 1.5 meters in stores, etc.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte in his speech on March 16 warned that the pandemic would last for many months and “very many Dutch people would fall ill.”
He said it would be a difficult time, but we will survive it together – he said. ” In all this uncertain situation, one thing is quite obvious: the task ahead of us is enormous and we must do it together with 17 million people (…). Try to look after each other, ‘said Rutte.
On the 20th of March the King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander said in his speech: ‘’When people are uncertain or scared, they feel a great need for human contact. You want to share your story with someone. You want to have familiar faces around you. Leave your worries behind you for a little while.
That has become much more difficult under the current circumstances. We miss our daily routines. The sports club, coffee morning, music society, our family weekend, the church service. Missing all those things makes this situation extra difficult to deal with, especially for elderly people who are vulnerable.
Thankfully, there is still a lot we can do. We all know someone in our vicinity who will be needing people to look out for them. This is something we need to get through together. Many people realise that. They are keeping an eye out for others and helping out when and where they can. We cannot stop the coronavirus. What we can do is stop the loneliness virus!
Let’s make sure together that nobody feels abandoned.’’
The National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) regularly emphasizes that the number of patients is higher than the statistics they provide, because many people only have mild influenza symptoms caused by the virus and are therefore not studied.
The number of cases is also probably higher than in the RIVM reports, because different regions have now decided to only test people aged 70 or older who also have severe symptoms. The decision was made because of a lack of testing, so only the tip of the iceberg is tested.
In our next article we will focus on local initiatives of the Dutch city Heerlen on how to make the best out of these difficult times.