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Dutch PM Rutte plans 'regional' steps as coronavirus cases hit record


AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday his government is preparing "regional" measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak in specific hotspots after the Netherlands registered a record 1,972 cases in the past 24 hours.

European is seeing a wider surge in COVID-19 cases, but Rutte said the Dutch situation was "worrying" after the country registered a record number of cases for the fourth consecutive day.

"At this rate, the number of infections would double every week and we absolutely cannot have that," he told reporters.

The regional measures, which will be detailed later on Friday, are expected to include tighter restrictions on public gatherings and earlier closing times for bars and restaurants.

Hotspots include major cities in the west of the country, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

Current Dutch policy focuses on maintaining social distancing. Schools have reopened after summer vacations and masks are required only on public transport.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Toby Chopra and Catherine Evans)

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