Dutch PM holds emergency meeting on rising rate of COVID-19 infections
Dutch PM holds emergency meeting on rising rate of COVID-19 infections

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte held emergency meetings on Monday about the spiking rate of COVID-19 infections in the country.  The country is likely to announce tougher lockdown steps during a television address in the evening. Significant members of the Dutch government were weighing stricter social restrictions and Rutte took the unusual step of inviting the heads of all political parties in parliament for talks, the media reported.

He was set to address the country from his office in a rare broadcast at 1900 local time (1800GMT). New coronavirus infections in the country of 17 million jumped by almost 10,000 in the 24 hours through Sunday morning, data released by national health authorities showed, the biggest rise in more than six weeks.

The Netherlands has recorded more than 600,000 cases and 10,000 deaths during the coronavirus pandemic. National broadcaster NOS, citing government sources, said measures could include the closure of all non-essential shops for several weeks and keeping schools shut beyond a two-week Christmas holiday starting on Friday.

Other public buildings, such as museums, cinemas and zoos, may also be closed, NOS reported. Despite restrictions, shopping districts across the Netherlands have been crowded for weeks, with a spike in infections after the Dec. 5 gift-giving celebrations marking the birthday of Saint Nicholas.

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