Positive COVID tests reach weekly high in the Netherlands; Portugal to go for new curbs

Vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been cleared for use in children ages 12 to 17 in Europe.

Published: 17th November 2021 10:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2021 10:11 AM   |  A+A-


Coronavirus (Photo | AP)


THE HAGUE: The Netherlands recorded its highest weekly number of positive coronavirus tests over the last seven days, and lawmakers discussed legislation as cases continued to soar Tuesday to limit unvaccinated people from using the country's COVID pass system.

The country's public health institute reported Tuesday that the number of positive tests rose by 44% to 110,558, the highest weekly total since the pandemic began.

Hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients rose 12% and admissions to intensive care units by 3%, it said.

The institute said 173 people died of COVID-19 during the past week, bringing the Netherlands' death toll in the pandemic to 18,785.

Cases rose sharply among children ages 4-12 years, most of whom have yet to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been cleared for use in children ages 12 to 17 in Europe; the European Medicines Agency is evaluating whether to authorise them for 5 to 11-year-olds.

A new partial lockdown came into force Saturday across the Netherlands, with bars, restaurants and supermarkets ordered to close at 8 pm, masks mandated in more places and people urged to work from home as much as possible.

The Dutch government wants to make its COVID passes mandatory in more places and to empower employers to check the passes of their staffs.

The government also wants to allow businesses that are required to check the passes of customers the option of limiting access to only people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.

A similar system is in use in Austria and parts of Germany.

Portugal has vaccinated 86 per cent of the country against the coronavirus, but the prime minister warned Tuesday that the latest infection surge across Europe compels the Portuguese government to consider precautionary measures.

"We can't ignore the signs," Prime Minister António Costa said of the European Union's growing number of new confirmed cases.

"The later we act, the greater the risk."

Costa has convened a Friday meeting of health experts to assess what measures may be required.

After that, he plans to meet with the leaders of opposition parties.

"We have to be especially careful, because of the approaching winter and flu season, Costa told reporters Tuesday."

"We can't let our guard down because of the vaccine."

Infection rates, deaths and hospitalisations due to COVID-19 are relatively low in Portugal compared with the rest of the European Union, and Costa said he does not expect a return to lockdowns.

New restrictions on gatherings and rules on mask-wearing are possible, however.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness but don't stop coronavirus infections.

From roughly mid-September through the end of October, Portugal officially reported fewer than 1,000 new infections a day.

The daily number of new cases is now climbing toward 2,000.

So far, daily deaths of people with COVID-19 remain in the single digits, and the number of infected patients requiring ICU treatment has been below 100 since mid-September.

Portugal is currently administering booster shots to people over 65.


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