COVID-19 outbreak fades, on-island measures reduced

— St. Maarten lowest vaccination rate in Kingdom —

The COVID-19 outbreak in the Dutch Caribbean is diminishing since late Decem­ber 2021 with a sharp reduction in the number of new and active cases on all islands.

According to Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport Ernst Kuipers, it looks like the top number of hospital admis­sions was reached late January 2022 and the number of admis­sions has been declining steadily. The decrease in the number of infections and the lessened pres­sure on healthcare make it pos­sible to relax the measures. Per early February, the measures are being relaxed on most islands, ex­cept St. Maarten, where the pressure on healthcare is still high.

Minister Ernst Kuipers

St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) temporarily ceased elective admissions since January 24 due to the high number of in­fections among hospital person­nel. At this time, elective care is being restarted at the St. Maarten hospital.

Minister Kuipers’ COV­ID-19 update letter showed that St. Maarten still has the lowest vaccination rate in the Dutch Kingdom. Per February 14, 47 per cent of the St. Maarten population ages 18 and up was fully vaccinated, compared to 75 per cent in Aruba and 72 per cent in Curacao.

In Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the vaccination rate is respectively 79 per cent, 60 per cent and 93 per cent of the population ages 18 and up. The vaccination rate among 12- to 17-year­olds is 38 per cent in Cura­cao, 60 per cent in Aruba, 25 per cent in St. Maarten, 62 per cent in Bonaire, 29 per cent in St. Eustatius and 94 per cent in Saba. Per February 7, the phased reduction of personnel hired through the Ameri­can employment placement agency with funding of the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport VWS, has started. These temporarily-hired doctors and nurses worked for some time at the hos­pitals in St. Maarten and Curacao.

Health authorities on the islands offer a basic vacci­nation series to all residents ages 5 and older. St. Eusta­tius will soon start with the vaccination of children ages 5-11. Booster vaccinations are offered to prolong the effectiveness of the basic vaccinations.

Islands’ health authorities have started to apply a dif­ferent approach whereby teams go into the districts to reach vulnerable groups that have not been (fully) vaccinated as yet. The VWS Ministry offers Aruba and Curacao financial support in the implementation of the booster campaigns and the vaccination of specific groups.

The Daily Herald.

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