THE HAGUE (Reuters) -New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands have jumped more than six-fold in the past week, mainly among young adults, following a decision to largely scrap restrictions.
Almost 52,000 infections were confirmed in the country of 17.5 million in the week through Tuesday, health authorities said, up from 8,500 a week earlier.
Confirmation of the fastest weekly rise since the start of the pandemic came just days after the government reintroduced curbs on nightclubs, festivals and restaurants in response to a surge in infections among 18 to 30 year olds.
The Netherlands lifted most lockdown measures on June 26, as an accelerated rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations drove infections down to the lowest level since last September.
A system of health checks and mandatory coronavirus rapid tests for venues where social distancing could not be guaranteed was put in place, but cracked under the large number of people looking for a night out after months of lockdown.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday he regretted the rapid easing of restrictions, which he conceded had shown “poor judgment” by his government.
More than 60% of new cases in the past week were among people aged 15 to 25. Almost 40% of the people who knew where they had been infected said it had happened during a night out.
Around 80% of all adults in the Netherlands have now received at least one vaccination, but authorities said this did not mean all precautions could be jettisoned as most people were still only partially protected.
Almost 7,000 new cases in the past week were reported by people who had received at least one vaccination.
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