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Coronavirus: Dutch to close all schools, bars and restaurants

Eight more deaths due to the virus, taking the total to 20 in the country

Jane Dalton
Sunday 15 March 2020 17:49 GMT
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Coronavirus cases: The spread outside China

The Netherlands is to close all schools, bars and restaurants as it steps up measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, national broadcaster NOS reported.

The government agreed the measure during crisis meetings after officials in the country reported eight more deaths due to the virus, taking the total to 20.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health said the number of infections had risen by 176 to 1,135.

Meanwhile, the finance minister, Wobke Hoekstra, said the government would do “everything it takes” to keep Air France-KLM and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport operating.

Mr Hoekstra would not give any details about a possible bailout but stressed that Air France-KLM was vital for the economy and said he was in close contact with his French colleagues and the Air France management.

Countries across Europe including France, Belgium and Ireland have also closed schools, while Italy and Spain are in lockdown, asking people not to go out unless essential.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Europe is now the epicentre of the pandemic.

WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.

The pandemic is forcing Dutch flower growers to compost millions of blooms at what should be the pre-Mothers’ Day demand peak, their industry association said, warning that many members could go bankrupt within weeks.

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