Contact

Questions about the novel coronavirus? Please contact 0800-1351 or 

+31 (0)20 205 1351 (this number can be reached from abroad)

Available daily from 8:00 a.m. until 22:00 p.m. 

Frequently asked questions about the impact of the novel coronavirus on education, childcare, employees, employers, entrepreneurs, travellers and public transport can be found on government.nl.

Questions about the situation in the Netherlands

What measures are in place in the Netherlands to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus?

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has guidelines and scenarios for responding to an epidemic based on scientific insights. These documents are drawn up to ensure that the Netherlands is as prepared as possible for any outbreaks of serious diseases. View all measures to combat the novel coronavirus in the Netherlands on government.nl.

What basic principles are used by RIVM in drafting its advisory reports for the response to the novel coronavirus?

In the Netherlands, one of our main priorities is to ensure that the hospitals, nursing homes and home care services are not overwhelmed, so there is always enough capacity in our healthcare system. In addition, we want to protect vulnerable groups. Various approaches have been considered for how our country can respond to the spread of the virus. Read more about those scenarios here.

People keep referring to the ‘three scenarios for the coronavirus response in the Netherlands’; what are they?

Various approaches have been considered for how our country can respond to the spread of the virus. These scenarios vary from complete nation-wide lockdown to the other extreme: allowing the virus to run its course. Read more about those scenarios here.

Can my children still play outside with others?

From the data now available, children seem to be contributing little to the spread of COVID-19. They can, therefore, play with others if they do not have any symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, a cold or a cough. Large groups should be avoided.

Are children a special risk group for COVID-19?

At the moment, children almost never develop symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Therefore, children are not a special risk group. Children are also not a major source of infection for the disease.

Is there sufficient capacity in Dutch hospitals?

The measures of 12 and 15 March aim to prevent the spread of the disease. The measures can help to keep sufficient capacity in the hospitals. If many patients become ill at the same time, there may not be enough capacity to admit seriously ill patients to the intensive care unit.

What is meant by herd immunity? 

Anyone who has had COVID-19 is usually immune to the virus afterwards. This means that this person can no longer become ill from the virus. The bigger the group that acquires immunity, the smaller the chance the virus has of spreading. This also reduces the chance that the virus reaches vulnerable people. Herd immunity builds a protective wall, as it were, around vulnerable people.

What are the current numbers of COVID-19 patients in the Netherlands?

See our daily update on our webpage current information about the novel coronavirus COVID-19

Questions about the Dutch approach

Are the measures of 15 March to close schools, cafes, restaurants and sport clubs useful?

The novel coronavirus is spreading from human to human. If there are fewer places where many people gather, the disease can spread less rapidly. For this reason, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment advised previously to cancel major events. Closing down other venues such as cafes, restaurants and sports clubs further reduces the chance of the virus being transmitted.

What is a 'targeted lock-down'? 

A targeted lock-down is a measure aimed at keeping as many people as possible at home. If you have health problems, you should stay at home until you are symptom-free for 24 hours. If you have more severe complaints, such as a fever, coughing or difficulty of breathing, the whole family / all housemates should stay at home as a precaution. With a total lock-down, both social and economic life is at a standstill, and the freedom of movement of all residents is limited. Read more about staying at home on government.nl.

Why is it not useful to introduce a lock-down in the Netherlands?

A complete ban on going outdoors has no added value. Indeed, the novel coronavirus will not be able to spread as quickly, but no one will be able to build up immunity against the disease either. Since the disease is spread globally, there is a good chance that, after lifting a lock-down, many people will become ill at the same time in a short period. This will cause a peak load of infections. With a lock-down, you mainly postpone the moment that many people become ill at the same time, and we do not want that.

How can you control the spread of an infectious disease?

Containing an infectious disease is done by preventing infections through early detection of the source and contacts. For each patient, the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) tracks down who could be infected. We call these people contacts. They, as well, have to keep an eye on their health and pass this information on to the GGD. As soon as they get symptoms, they are isolated, and the GGD tracks down their contacts again. In this way, you can significantly reduce the spread. This is called containment.
 

Why am I no longer allowed to shake hands?

Via hands, viruses such as the novel coronavirus spread quickly. Many people also (unnoticed) often touch their nose or mouth with their hands. By not shaking hands anymore, you reduce the chance of getting infected and infecting others with the novel coronavirus.

Why is it important to wash your hands often?

Viruses spread very quickly via hands. By washing your hands well and regularly, you reduce the chance that you will become ill, but also that you will infect others. See rivm.nl/hygiene for tips on how to wash your hands properly.

Why should I keep my arm in front of my mouth when sneezing or coughing?

Viruses such as the novel coronavirus spread easily via hands. Many people touch (sometimes unnoticed) their nose or mouth with their hands. By sneezing or coughing in your arm you reduce the chance of getting infected and infecting others with the novel coronavirus.

What is meant by social distancing?

By social distancing, you have less contact with others, or you keep a distance from others. This reduces the chance that you will infect each other. Examples include: working from home, or spreading working hours if working from home is not possible. Staying at home with respiratory problems and avoiding places where many people can get together.

Schools are closed as of 16 March. Why did RIVM previously advise that schools could stay open?

Children do not often get symptoms when they have been infected with the novel coronavirus. That is why RIVM expects children to have a small contribution to the spread of COVID-19. That was the reason why RIVM advised not to close the schools.

Herd immunity in the Dutch COVID-19 policy

The Dutch COVID-19 policy aims towards keeping the health system in operation while protecting vulnerable groups in society. The government of the Netherlands has taken far-reaching measures to prevent further spreading of the coronavirus. However, there is no measure yet that can make the virus disappear in the near future. Most people infected with the coronavirus recover. According to WHO, people show antibodies in their blood at least for a month after recovery. This means that in the Netherlands immunity against corona is being built up. This is not a goal in itself, but a result of the fact that the virus is present in the Netherlands. One of the effects is that gradually more people become immune to the virus, which will eventually lead to herd immunity, as is the case for other viral infections. As we are dealing with a newly emerged virus, WHO correctly states that there is no certainty about the development of immunity against COVID-19, or about how long this immunity will last. More information about this will become available soon. The Netherlands will keep on adapting its policy, based on the latest findings.
RIVM las launched a study on coronavirus herd immunity.

Questions about your personal health

I think I am infected with the novel coronavirus. What should I do?

For everyone in the Netherlands: stay at home with symptoms such as a nose cold, cough, sore throat or fever.  These are mild symptoms. Avoid social contacts. Limit visits to vulnerable people.
Only call your GP if the symptoms worsen (a fever > 38 Celsius and difficulty breathing) and you require medical assistance. If you feel better and did not have any symptoms for 24 hours, you are cured. You can no longer infect others. 

Who are meant by vulnerable people or people with poor health?

Vulnerable people or people in poor health are people over 70 years of age and people who have one of these conditions:

  • abnormalities and dysfunctions of the respiratory tract and lungs;
  • chronic heart disease;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • severe kidney disease leading to dialysis or kidney transplant;
  • reduced resistance to infections:
    by medication for autoimmune diseases,
    after organ transplant,
  • haematological diseases (blood diseases),
  • in the case of congenital or later immune disorders requiring treatment,
  • in case of chemotherapy and/or radiation in cancer patients;
  • an HIV human immunodeficiency virus infection in consultation with the treating physician.

Can I do a self-test with so-called quick tests?

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment is aware of the fact that coronavirus self-tests are offered. These tests are not self-tests, but rapid tests (snel-test in Dutch) that are not intended for home use. They are intended for professional use. Only accredited laboratories such as those of RIVM use tests that can determine whether the coronavirus is present in a patient. The rapid tests offered show, by another method, whether someone has recently (a week or more ago) been in contact with the virus. However, these rapid tests cannot determine whether someone is carrying the virus at the time of testing or whether he or she is contagious at that time. Users may become unnecessarily worried or they may be wrongly reassured.

The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate has also published a report about this. Tests that can be used at home to check whether you are infected with the coronavirus are prohibited if they have not first been assessed by a notified body. More info at IGJ.

I am a roommate of someone who is sick. What should I do?

Stay at home if you have symptoms of nose cold or a cough, a sore throat or a fever. These are mild symptoms. Avoid social contact. Limit visits to vulnerable people. Only call your doctor if the symptoms get worse (fever > 38 degrees Celsius and difficulty breathing) and you need medical assistance.

What are mild cold symptoms?

Mild cold symptoms are a nose cold, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and slight cough and a slight temperature up to 38.0 degrees Celsius.

Is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) more severe than the regular flu?

At this point, we do not know. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus. Therefore, it is vital to obtain very detailed information to determine precisely how dangerous the virus is. More information is needed about the spread of the virus, also about the people who become only slightly ill or not at all ill.

What is the advice for people who are vulnerable or have health problems?

Avoid contact with other people as much as possible. Avoid large groups and public transport. Everyone is urged to limit visits to people with health problems. Follow the hygiene measures and certainly stay away from people who are ill. 

How long do you have to stay at home if you have a cold or a fever?

People with a fever or a cold should stay at home. You also have to limit your social contacts. One day after the symptoms are over, you are no longer contagious. You can continue your work, but from home as much as possible. If you have a fever above 38 degrees Celsius and difficulty of breathing and need medical assistance, call your GP.

How do you know if you are cured of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

If you feel better and have had no health problems for 24 hours, you are cured. You cannot infect others anymore.

Can I still visit my parents?

Anyone older than 70 and people with underlying health conditions are extra vulnerable if they are infected with COVID-19. For this reason, limit contact with these groups and certainly do not visit them if you have symptoms such as fever, a cough or a cold.

Can I still go shopping?

If you don't have any symptoms such as a fever, a cough or a cold, you can go and do some grocery shopping. If you keep an arm's length away from others, the chance that others will infect you with COVID-19 or that you will infect others is small.

Can I still walk the dog?

If you do not have any symptoms such as a fever, a cough or a cold, you can walk your dog. If you keep an arm's length away from others, there is little chance that others can infect you with COVID-19 or that you can infect others.
 

Questions about prevention

Information on how to protect yourself against the novel coronavirus can be found on the website of the World Health Organization. 

Questions about the novel coronavirus

Information about the novel coronavirus can be found on the website of the World Health Organization

Questions about the international situation

Is it safe to travel abroad?

The travel advice of the government as of 17 March is: only travel abroad if essential. For current travel advice please visit the website of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I have been on holiday in an area with many novel coronavirus infections and now I have symptoms, what should I do?

Keep an eye on your health. If you have a cold, or a fever of up to 38 degrees Celsius, stay at home and get well first. Do not infect others in the meantime. Call your GP if you have a fever (more than 38 degrees Celsius) and you are coughing or having difficulty breathing and are in need of medical assistance.

Where can I find novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation updates for Europe?

This information can be found on the website of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC.