In the past few weeks, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands has increased drastically. According to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu or RIVM – between 2nd November and 9th November, 76,790 positive test results were reported.
The RIVM claimed that “45% more people tested positive for COVID-19 last week compared to the week before. Reported figures increased in all regions and in all age groups”. One of the regions which unfortunately has been suffering the most from this new wave of infections is Limburg, the southernmost province. Hospital administrations from the province have reported that they will run out of intensive care beds at the current rate of infections, a “code black” scenario, an emergency level status used as a last resort to maintain a sustainable, yet vastly reduced, level of resources allocation. This would translate to hospitals having to select who they can and cannot treat – and it seems to be around the corner.
Due to the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, several hospitals have (or are about to) reach their limits. These hospitals include the Roermond Laurentius Hospital, Maastricht UMC+, SJG Weert, VieCuri Medical Center in Venlo, and Zuyderland Medical Center in Heerlen and Sittard. They have all pleaded in a joint statement to Health Minister Hugo de Jonge to take immediate actions to resolve the crisis.
In their joint statement, they expressed their concerns about a possible collapse of the healthcare system on a regional level and that this crisis might spill over into other regions of the Netherlands as well. They also address the fact that transferring patients to other hospitals in the Netherlands will only be a sporadic solution to the crisis. It is clear to outside observers that the situation has become quite delicate and precarious. Recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed the Netherlands under a “level 4” Travel Health Notice, the highest risk level of the travel advisory levels.
In conclusion, the situation in Limburg -and the Netherlands as a whole for the matter- is by no means simple, but certainly worrying. The situation is still developing and only time can tell if and when a solution will be reached for this crisis.
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