Dutch Medical Care Minister Bruno Bruins, who is leading the Dutch government in containing the spread of COVID-19 virus has resigned on Thursday (19 March), a day after he collapsed in a parliamentary session and stated that his body “is no longer able to cope” with the job.
According to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the growing pandemic of the COVID-19 crisis is such that it demands a minister who can be ready to go full throttle immediately, adding that Mr Bruins had quit as it was uncertain when he will recover, Reuters reported.
Mr Bruins, 56, released a statement via Twitter earlier today (20 March) and cited, “I have always enjoyed working as a minister, but it certainly took its toll in the past few weeks”.
Earlier on Wednesday (18 March), Mr Bruins collapsed during a parliamentary debate on the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis which he later said that he had fainted due to exhaustion. He then abruptly resigned on the following day.
In the meantime, Vice Prime Minister Hugo de Jonge will be taking over his duties, the government stated.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Netherlands has risen to 2,460, and the death toll stands at 76 to date (20 March).
The Netherlands imposed restrictions to close down schools, restaurants, cannabis cafes in bids to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus
As the number of COVID-19 cases surges in the Netherlands, the Dutch government announced on 15 March that it will be imposing restrictions on all schools, cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, saunas, and even cannabis cafes; all of them will be closed until at least 6 April.
Dutch Education Minister Arie Slob noted that the government has decided to close all schools and daycare centres as many teachers were already sick at home and due to safety risks.
The Netherlands embraces a “herd immunity” strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic
Previously on 16 March, the Dutch Prime Minister seems to support the “herd immunity” theory as he remarked that a mass lockdown was not feasible and the Netherlands had opted for a plan that included “controlled distribution” of COVID-19 among groups that are less vulnerable to the virus.
Herd immunity is a scenario in which a large number of people become resistant to a certain disease, it becomes much harder for it to spread to the rest of the population.
In his speech, he said that in the coming period a large proportion of the Dutch population will become infected with this virus, which he claimed was told by experts.
“That’s what the experts are telling us now,” he noted. “They are also telling us that – as we wait for a vaccine or treatment to be developed – we can delay the spread of the virus and at the same time build up population immunity in a controlled manner.”
Mr Rutte said that the population immunity aims to protect the elderly and sick people.
“Just like with the measles back in the day. The bigger the group that acquires immunity, the smaller the chance that the virus can make the leap to vulnerable older people or people with underlying health issues,” he remarked.
He ruled out three options to contain the COVID-19 virus: first is maximum control, which should lead to a controlled spread among the groups least at risk; second is allow the virus to run its course; the third option is shutting down the country completely.
Mr Rutte hinted that the government has settled on the first option dubbed “maximum control”.
“From relatively simple guidelines, such as not shaking hands, washing our hands more often and keeping a distance of one-and-a-half metres, to far-reaching measures such as banning large events and closing bars, clubs and restaurants,” he noted.