More coronavirus COVID-19 cases were reported in the Dutch Caribbean in October this year than in the previous month, stated the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM in its recent monthly update about the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
In total, 545 positive test results were reported on the six islands in October, versus 450 in September.
St. Maarten had 66 positive test results, which is more than the 15 cases that were confirmed in September. There was an outbreak in a nursing home, but the RIVM report did not specify the institution. Most patients had mild symptoms. In St. Maarten, there were fewer than five COVID19-related hospital admissions and fewer than five persons died from COVID-19. For privacy reasons, the RIVM does not specify the numbers when it concerns fewer than five cases. The exact number is only mentioned when it is five of more.
In Curacao, the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions went up from fewer than five in September to 15 in October, of whom 14 were over the age of 60. The increased hospital admissions did not result in adding too much strain on healthcare and the majority were short admissions of under 72 hours. In Curacao, six persons died from COVID-19, and they were all older than 60 years.
There were no COVID19-related hospital admissions or deaths in St. Eustatius and Saba. In St. Eustatius, eight positive test results were reported in October, which is more than in the previous month, when there were fewer than five. Seven of the eight persons who tested positive had no recent travel history, which makes it probable that these concerned local transmissions.
In Saba, the number of COVID-19 cases went down in October, with fewer than five positive test results compared to 16 in September. Curacao reported 121 new COVID-19 cases in October, which is almost double the 66 in September.
In Aruba, 249 positive test results were reported in October; there were 21 COVID-19-related hospital admissions and fewer than five persons died from COVID-19. These figures are almost the same as in September, when there were 244 COVID-19 cases and 19 hospital admissions related to the disease. Most patients were admitted for less than 72 hours.
In Bonaire, 112 COVID-19 cases were reported in October, a small increase compared to the 92 in September. More tests were performed in Bonaire in October because of increased tourism from the Netherlands. There were fewer than five hospital admissions and no COVID-19 deaths.
The RIVM is keeping a keen eye on five subvariants that are circulating on the islands. In Curacao, subvariant BA.5 was most often detected. In Aruba, the BF.7 subvariant was mostly found. In Saba, all infections were of the BA.7 subvariant. In Curacao, the BA.5 subvariant was dominant and in Bonaire, this was the BA.5.1/BA.5.2 sub-variant.
No samples were submitted from St. Maarten or St. Eustatius in October. In September, the BA.2.75 and BA.4.6 sub-variants were dominant in St. Maarten. In July, the BA.2.12.1, BA.4.1 and BA.5.1/5.2 subvariants were detected in St. Eustatius.
The test policy has gradually changed on the islands since the start of the pandemic. Not all persons with symptoms are tested anymore, so the actual number of COVID-19 cases is much higher than mentioned by the RIVM. Until April 26, 2022, testing was free in St. Maarten. Since then, testing is no longer free. Those who opt to get tested are mostly travellers and (insured) persons with symptoms and at a higher risk. In the last week of September, the autumn round of the COVID-19 vaccination started in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Persons older than 60 with a medical risk and healthcare workers were invited first. People can get a booster vaccination three months after their last vaccination or COVID-19 infection.
The Daily Herald.