From now on the coronavirus is referred to as a so-called A disease, writes Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care in a letter to Parliament on Monday evening. Bruins has been advised by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) to scale up to the highest level of vigilance.
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As a result of the measure, healthcare professionals will have a direct obligation to report to the municipal health service (GGD) if there are indications that a patient may be carrying the virus. In this way, the government wants to see possible patients as quickly as possible in order to prevent further spread.
Potentially infected people can be forced into hospital or placed in isolation. All Dutch hospitals have the necessary isolation rooms, according to Bruins.
Other A diseases in the Netherlands
- MERS coronavirus
- SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
- Viral haemorrhagic fever
No additional measures at Schiphol yet
According to the RIVM's so-called Outbreak Management Team (OMT), no additional measures need yet to be taken at Schiphol. Screening passengers or measuring their temperature, such as happens at international airports in the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and a handful of other countries, is not forthcoming.
Results of the OMT investigation show that during the SARS outbreak in 2003, when almost three million air passengers were screened, no cases of illness were detected during screening at airports.
Handing out mouth caps is also not indicated as a necessity. These measures have not been effective in the past as a means of preventing a virus from entering the country.
For the time being, travelers from China need to be well informed about potential risks and good cough and hand hygiene is sufficient.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is investigating possibilities to help Dutch people leave the province of Hubei and the capital, Wuhan, which has been designated as the epicenter of the virus outbreak. At least twenty Dutch people would go to the province.
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