The Dutch government facilitated the dispatch of eight nurses, a medical doctor specialised in infectious diseases and a crisis coordinator to St. Maarten in the week of August 3.
Dutch Minister of Public Health, Well-being and Sport Hugo de Jonge announced this in a letter he sent to the Dutch Parliament on Friday as an update on the developments in the coronavirus pandemic.
“In St. Maarten, the number of new cases has doubled since July 16: from 79 to 160,” De Jonge stated. To strengthen the local Public Health Department, eight additional nurses and an infectious disease doctor were recruited via an international medical employment agency and sent to St. Maarten this week. From the Netherlands, a crisis coordinator went to the island to assist with the coordination of source and contact investigations.
As for medical capacity for the three Dutch Caribbean countries, De Jonge announced that a new agreement will be made with an American employment agency to maintain sufficient intensive care (IC) personnel for the latter part of 2020 and the first part of 2021. Because of the current upscaling of IC capacity in the Netherlands, it will not be possible to recruit personnel for the islands in the Netherlands.
The minister informed Parliament that a negative travel advisory (code orange) has been issued for St. Maarten since Sunday. “Aruba is also confronted with a sharp increase in new cases and in response to this has increased the measures to curb further spreading. The quarantine-free travel for Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao has been suspended for now. We are in weekly contact to assess the consequences for air traffic.”
In his letter, De Jonge also addressed the mandatory quarantining of passengers arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from risk countries that have been labelled code orange, including St. Maarten. These passengers must quarantine at home for 14 days to prevent infecting others in case they have contracted the virus.
A “test street” should become operational at Schiphol Airport within a week, where passengers arriving from code-orange countries can be tested, whether they have symptoms or not. The test street will be located in a central area and clearly visible at the airport. The testing will be free of charge.
The minister emphasised that the testing at the airport did not replace the home quarantine. The testing at the airport is an additional measure to quickly detect infected persons and to gather information on how many passengers without symptoms test positive for COVID-19.
Passengers arriving from risk countries are currently already receiving a letter at the airport with instructions for home quarantining. An average of 5,000 passengers per day arrive at Schiphol Airport from risk areas/countries.
As he has done in earlier letters to update Parliament, De Jonge provided figures about the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Dutch Caribbean: Aruba – 171, St. Maarten – 160, Curaçao – 31, Bonaire – five, Saba – five and St. Eustatius – three.
The Daily Herald.