COVID-19 has far-reaching consequences, from the homeless to royalty

Photo credit: Studio040
Photo credit: Studio040

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 6,412. In this article, we will highlight significant, recent developments around the coronavirus. We will make a journey, starting here in Eindhoven. It will wind its way through The Hague, churches, and Germany. It ends up in the UK.


Homeless people in Eindhoven do not have to worry about having to stay on the streets during the corona crisis. Springboard040 has now opened its shelters for 24 hours a day. They have also taken measures to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible.

The organisation has, for example, set up quarantine areas at all its five locations, says director, Thijs Eradus. “If there are strong suspicions that a person has the virus, we have 14 quarantine sites in the city. We can place these people until a doctor arrives. We can add another 20 beds, bringing the total up to 34. These places are outside the normal shelter because you want to keep everyone safe”, Eradus says.

The organisation wants to prevent its staff and clients from becoming infected with COVID-19. “We used to have one dining room; now we have two. In this way we can keep a 1,5m distance from each other while eating”, Eradus explains. They are also wearing surgical masks.

When asked how the staff is deployed, Eradus says, “We all have emergency schedules ready. It could be that the virus breaks out among our colleagues. Every morning we have a meeting with city council officials and other organisations. We discuss how we can help each other”.

  • Schools

Minister of Education, Arie Slob, decided on Tuesday morning to cancel secondary school’s final central exams. It is also not known when results will be available. Whether someone passes or not, this year only depends on each school’s exams. Usually, this school exam only counts for half of the final grade – now it is 100%.

Some schools indicated that they were struggling to organise school exams during this crisis. The safety 1,5m margin is difficult to guarantee. They were supported in this by large education associations and the VO Council. This council represents the interests of secondary education in government, politics, business, and civil society organisations.

The Scholenkoepel Ons Middelbaar Onderwijs or OMO, (Secondary School Umbrella Organisation) has ten schools in the Eindhoven region. On Tuesday, they were advised only to have digital exams digitally or postpone them until after 6 April. The school closure measure is supposed to be lifted by then. For the period between 6 April and 6 June, OMO is asking schools to organise exams as safely as possible.

The cabinet still has to decide whether the schools will remain closed after 6 April. According to Minister Slob, every examination pupil retains his right to resits, and every successful student receives a full diploma. More will be known about the conditions attached to this later.

  • Markets

Over the weekend, there were pictures of people on the beach or at the hardware shops too close together, all over social media. The preventative measures did not faze these people.

But things were very different at the Tuesday market in Eindhoven. In the morning, market vendors had been instructed on how to deal with the new and stricter rules. The result – chalk-drawn squares on the ground, queues lines made from ribbon and a numbering system at the fish stall.

The rest of the city has also received the message. There were many stores with A4s in their windows explaining the corona measures. A clothing store has come up with an idea of its own –  instead of closing; the owner is offering customers a private shopping experience. All it takes is one phone call.

  • Alternatives for events

The Municipality of Eindhoven is seeing whether certain events – which do not require large crowds – can still be held. These include the annual Lintjesregen (Ribbons Ceremony) and the Dodenherdenking (Commemoration of the Dead). These are meant to be held on May 4.

Due to the measures to combat the coronavirus, all Council events have been cancelled. These include, for example, King’s Day and its related festivals, but also Dutch Technology Week. The events will not take place in their original set-up, but perhaps in a modified form.

The Hague

The Dutch government has taken measures to control the coronavirus outbreak as much as possible. These seem to have worked to level off the rate of infection. That is what Jaap van Dissel, said this morning in a briefing. He is the director of the National Health Department’s (RIVM) Centre for Infectious Disease Control (CIB). “In any case, there is a positive trend”, he said.

The degree of infection of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, i.e. the number of people who infect a sick person, is less than one. At the same time, he underlined that the figure is based on an estimate. There is still a lot of uncertainty because there is insufficient data available.

The flattening of the curve is “probably caused by the fact that not all hospitalised patients are being tested”. It seems the precautions have resulted in one COVID-19 patient no longer transmitting the virus to at least two others, as was previously the case. This is favourable because, according to Van Dissel, this means that the country’s intensive care units can cope with the number of very sick patients.

“The exponential growth of the outbreak has, therefore, in all likelihood, come to a halt”. But, he warned, if everyone goes to the beach en masse and doesn’t keep a distance from each other there, we will see that in the figures later.

Almost half of the regular care services have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. This leads to increasing waiting lists and, therefore, possibly also to health risks for patients. This is the warning from researchers from, among others, the Gupta Strategists consulting firm. This company specialises in the healthcare sector. An estimated 3.5 million ‘patient contacts’ are being cancelled per week, the researchers say after an inventory among 53 healthcare professionals.

Churches heed the Pope’s call

Protestant and Catholic churches in the Netherlands asked believers to recite the ‘Our Father’ at noon. In doing so, they respond to a request from Pope Francis, who on Sunday called on all Christians to turn to prayer. The Protestant Church of the Netherlands wholeheartedly supports this call.

“It fits with the general vision of the Protestant Church to do together, what can be done, together”, Rene de Reuver of the PKN (Dutch Protestant Churches), says. “Prayer is what unites us all”. The Catholic churches in the Netherlands are also calling on believers to pray. Bishop De Korte of the diocese of Den Bosch calls the request a “great initiative” of the Pope. The EO (Evangelical Broadcasting Service) organised a live stream for this ‘Our Father’ praying event.

Great Britain

Prince Charles has COVID-19. This was reported in the British media, after a statement from the Royal Family. The heir to the throne is 71 years old and therefore at risk. He has mild complaints, according to the statement, and is self-isolating. His wife Camilla has tested negative. It is not clear how Prince Charles got infected.

Sources: Studio040 and NOS

Translator: Bob

Editor: Melinda Walraven

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