Covid-19: Netherlands closes primary schools a week earlier for fear of the Omicron variant

“We cannot ignore the signal concerning the Omicron variant”, warned Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday, December 14, announcing the early closure of primary schools for the Christmas holidays.

Establishments in the Netherlands will therefore close from December 20, a week before the start of the Christmas holidays, because children, among whom the rates of Covid-19 are the highest, could infect their family members more. aged, said the head of government at a press conference in The Hague.

“This is obviously not a happy message that we were hoping for as Christmas approaches. But that’s no surprise ”, he added.

Also read: Why a more contagious but less fatal variant will kill more people

In addition, the government is extending current health restrictions until January 14, including the closure of non-essential shops, bars and restaurants every day between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. Likewise, citizens can only receive four guests at home.

The measures, which took effect on Nov. 28 for an initial three-week period, have brought contaminations down from recent all-time highs, dropping 21% over the past week to just over 116,000 cases, said , Tuesday, the RIVM public health institute.

“Maximum acceleration” of the vaccine booster campaign

But the situation remains worrying, estimates the RIVM, according to which the cases are highest among the pupils in primary school. The government decided to close the schools because “There are great concerns about the emergence of the Omicron variant, which is spreading rapidly”.

“Because the Christmas holidays start directly at Christmas this year, children could unknowingly infect their older relatives, which would put too much pressure on hospitals”the government said in a statement.

Read also Omicron variant spreads at unprecedented rate, WHO judges

The Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, announced, Tuesday, during the press conference, a “Maximum acceleration” of the vaccine booster campaign for all adults who so wish by the second half of January. That “Will slow down and lower the expected wave [du variant] Omicron », he added. In the Netherlands, nearly 86% of adults have been vaccinated, but cases remain high in part because of the decline in vaccine effectiveness after six months.

Health restrictions imposed by the Dutch government are increasingly unpopular, with riots erupting in cities like Rotterdam and The Hague for several nights in November.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In the Netherlands, violent protests for three days against health restrictions

The World with AFP

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Covid-19: Netherlands closes primary schools a week earlier for fear of the Omicron variant

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