The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands will be extended to April 20 due to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.

“The number of corona patients in intensive care is increasing. The third wave is starting to become visible. Therefore, the current package of measures is being extended,” Rutte said at a press conference on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I understand this is disappointing. I understand the impatience. However, the novel coronavirus infections are increasing,” he stressed.

According to the prime minister, the only significant change to the existing lockdown measures is that the curfew will start at 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., starting from March 31. It will still continue through 4.30 a.m. the following morning.

“It is logical that we are fed up. But our own behavior remains the fastest way to the relaxation of measures,” Rutte said.

The government also advised the citizens to stay in the country and not to travel abroad until May 15.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said on Tuesday that a total of 46,005 people tested positive for Covid-19 from March 17 to 23, up 16 per cent from the week before.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries including the Netherlands with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Rutte expected that much more will be possible from the beginning of June, when a large group of people in the country will have been vaccinated.

Globally, 264 candidate vaccines are still being developed — 82 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to the latest information released by the World Health Organization.

–IANS

int/pgh

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