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Dutch lockdown to last at least to mid-February – health chief…

FILE PHOTO: People ride bikes on an empty street as Netherlands has gone into lockdown as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Amsterdam, Netherlands December 15 2020, REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Reuters . Thu, December 31, 2020, 10:55 AM GMT+1
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A national lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the Netherlands will probably have to last at least until mid-February and even then can only be partially lifted, one of the country’s health chiefs said on Thursday.

Jaap van Dissel, head of infectious disease control at the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM), told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad that some 2 million people in the country of 17 million had caught COVID-19 and probably had some immunity.

“We will vaccinate in January, with a second dose to follow in mid-February. From that point partial easing should be possible for those that have been vaccinated,” Van Dissel, who chairs a team that advises the Dutch government, told the newspaper.

The Outbreak Management Team he chairs would then face a tough task establishing what form that easing would take.

“You don’t want to go back into another hard lockdown,” he said.

The Netherlands imposed a tough second lockdown, with the closure of all shops and schools in mid-December for an initial five weeks.

Dozens of hospitals cautioned on Wednesday that they would have to postpone critical operations as the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has jumped by 60% this month.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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