A debate about the coronavirus took place on Wednesday, March 18, at the House of Representatives, or the Tweede Kamer, in The Hague, which was televised.
In summary, Mark Rutte stressed that herd immunity is not the main aim of the Dutch government’s approach; most MPs support the current measures, apart from far-right opposition parties who would prefer a total lockdown; and health minister Bruno Bruins collapsed from exhaustion.
Rutte explained the aim of the government measures
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte reiterated the government’s plans for tackling the spread of coronavirus. He explained that herd immunity is a “side effect” of the approach to coronavirus proposed by the Dutch government, rather than the aim. He said that flattening the curve to reduce pressure on the healthcare sector was the real priority and that his message about the herd immunity concept has become somewhat misunderstood.
Most MPs are in agreement with the government’s approach
After hours of debating about the measures to fight the spread of coronavirus, it was concluded that only two political parties disagreed with the government’s measures – both of them far-right nationalist parties.
Thierry Baudet of FvD and Geert Wilders of PVV support the enforcing of a total lockdown with no end in sight, while Jaap Van Dissel, the head of RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and Environment) argued that “lockdown has apparent benefits in the beginning, but major drawbacks in the long run.”
Bruno Bruins collapsed from exhaustion
The Dutch health minister Bruno Bruins was about to speak when he suddenly collapsed. He had been near the podium for approximately 35 minutes and, finally, it was his turn to speak. He was answering questions posed by Geert Wilders when his knees gave way and he began to fall.
He was swiftly helped by those around him – social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees jumped up from his seat to come to the health minister’s aid. Bruins regained steadiness on his feet, took a sip of water and was led to safety.
On Twitter, Bruno Bruins thanked others for their support and said "I felt faint from exhaustion and the intensive past few weeks. Now things are better again. I'm going home to rest tonight, so I can get back to work tomorrow to fight the corona crisis as best I can."