An EZ Air aircraft arrived in St. Eustatius on Tuesday evening with the technical crew on board that will set up the hospital container. Another EZ Air aircraft brought much-need medical supplies one day later, on Wednesday, April 29.
The aircraft departed later that same day with patiens on board. The Hospitainer will be placed in Princess Garden, behind the Jewish and Old Church cemeteries. The area has already been cleared by Statia Construction over the past days. Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij commended the company, stating, “We are thankful for the responsible way in which they took care of this project that will ensure that there are six isolation containers in place that can provide medium care to COVID-19 patients.” The technical crew consists of three persons from the Netherlands who will set up the containers. Prior to their arrival in Statia they were placed in quarantine and tested negatively for the coronavirus.
The technicians will be assisted by the SL Eustatius Unit of Public Works and Services of the Department of Spatial Planning and Management DROB in assembling the Hospitainer, which is expected to take a maximum of four working days. Van Rij stated that the crewmembers and DROB will use extra precautionary measures while working together on the site.
The recruitment of medical staff for the Hospitainer in the Netherlands is ongoing. Van Rij said the public entity St. Eustatius is “hopeful” that the medical staff will be flown to the island either next week or the week thereafter. He said the public entity had received enquiries by Statians who are living abroad or who are attending school overseas about the possibility to return to the island. He said that “from a purely humanitarian point of view, the government sympathises with these persons,” but he explained that the situation in Statia is different than, for example, in the Netherlands or in other European countries and the United States. “We do not have the capacity to handle large groups in quarantine for 14 days or more and everyone who comes back to the island from … almost every country in the world … has to be taken up in quarantine. Unfortunately, at this time, this is not possible to do with the limited medical capacity which the government is working very hard to improve,” he said.
With the Hospitainer not yet operational, the priority for travel remains at essential services and acute emergency medical referrals in and out of the island.
The maximum number of persons allowed in quarantine in Statia is 15, according to the protocol of April 17. which was made in collaboration with various stakeholders in health care, such as the public entity, Public Health Department GGD, Health Insurance Office ZVK and Queen Beatrix Medical Centre.
The quarantine is reserved for current medical patients and the persons who accompany them. Van Rij said Statia cannot responsibly handle a rapid and large influx of persons.
The public entity will announce new measures in respect to an extension of the emergency ordinance later this week, but only after receiving a report from the Netherlands Public Health Institute RIVM, and after a dialogue with different stakeholders on the island.
The Daily Herald.