‘COVID-19 in The Netherlands: Both a Biological Disaster and an Economic Disaster’ by ADN’s Knowledge Exchange Officer, Jos Bal

COVID-19 in The Netherlands: Both a Biological Disaster and an Economic Disaster

By: Mr Jos Bal, ADN’s Knowledge Exchange Officer

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is still spreading globally. Currently, in the world, there have been almost 5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases according to the World Health Organization. However, as can be seen on the statistical graphs and according to epidemiologists, in The Netherlands the peak has been reached. The number of deaths and the rate of hospitalisation have both declined in the last few weeks according to the National Institute for Public Health. As of 22 May 2020, there have been 44,447 confirmed cases of COVID-10 with 5,748 deaths in The Netherlands (World Health Organization, 2020).

This situation provides a vantage point to analyse this pandemic from a crisis management perspective. Although the pandemic is a biological disaster, it is also now an economic disaster.

The so called ‘intelligent lockdown’ has proven effective in containing the spread of the virus in the Netherlands. Now, the economic disaster due to this lockdown and economic fallout thereof, has come to the limelight.

On 11 May 2020, there were some changes in The Netherlands to the COVID-19 control measures, but “handwashing, staying at home as much as possible, working from home, keeping a distance from others – all these measures advised by experts have been extended” (Government of the Netherlands, 2020). The changes that have been made are:

  • Everyone can participate in sports and outdoor activities as long as they stay 1.5 metres from each other.
  • Libraries are open to the public but all visitors need to keep a distance of 1.5 metres.
  • Primary school children can go back to school on a part-time basis but class sizes are reduced.
  • Most people in contact-based roles (e.g. health-related professionals and driving instructors) can resume their work. (Government of the Netherlands, 2020).

It is anticipated by the IMF that the gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink by 7.5 percent. This merits the question whether the shrinking of the economy could lead to further human casualties, violence, poverty, social exclusion, and etcetera. This raises the question if these secondary victims will not be forgotten. However, from my own experience in crisis management it is almost impossible to predict the developments around the COVID-19 itself; therefore, the prediction about the secondary victims might be even harder. However, that is the core of crisis management, as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands said: “making 100% decisions with 50% of the information”.

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