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Dutch PM admits ‘mistakes’ in Covid communication

By AFP
24 December 2021   |   11:49 am
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted to making communication "mistakes" in handling the pandemic, in an interview published Friday as his country braced for second Christmas under lockdown.

Netherlands’ outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte delivers a speech as he attends a debate in the House of Representatives focused on the developments surrounding the Covid-19 and the lockdown. (Photo by Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted to making communication “mistakes” in handling the pandemic, in an interview published Friday as his country braced for second Christmas under lockdown.

Rutte last week closed all non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theatres until January 14 and closed schools until at least January 9, in a return to Europe’s toughest lockdowns this winter.

He limited guests at home to only two people except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, December 26 and the New Year period when four guests are permitted. And gatherings of only two people are allowed outdoors.

“We could have started the vaccinations earlier,” Rutte told the mass-circulation De Telegraaf newspaper in comment published Friday.

He added that he had also “failed to convince people about the basic measures” to take to stem the virus’s spread.

“I made mistakes in the communication,” he said.

He also erred by not insisting on “obligatory measures” when the pandemic broke out last year, he said, adding that anti-Covid curbs imposed in mid-November and tightened later were “probably not strict enough”.

Dutch MPs this week accused the government of failing to have a long-term approach on coronavirus. They accused it of a late response and called for higher investment in healthcare.

“We are all in the same boat in Europe… due to the propagation of Omicron,” he said.

Following the strict new measures, the Netherlands last week saw a 33 percent decline in hospitalisations.

Intensive care admissions fell by 27 percent and Covid-positive tests declined by 19 percent, according to the Dutch public health institute.

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