Many countries in Europe are now in lockdown due to a third wave of COVID-19. The cases are mainly caused by the United Kingdom (UK) variant, which is both more transmissible and causes severe disease.
The UK variant is also driving the explosive transmission on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Over a few short weeks, Curacao went from a handful of cases to over 1,000 in a single week. Sadly, the numbers are still rising, and the number of active cases stands at 2,548 up to Tuesday, and there were three additional deaths.
Emergency health resources have since been mobilized and sent to all three islands to cope with the unprecedented healthcare demand, as hospitals and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) approach capacity. The situation is deeply concerning.
The UK variant has now been detected on St. Martin, which means it is almost certainly on the Dutch side as well. While cases are still relatively stable on the island, the current outbreaks on the other islands coupled with the presence of the UK variant on the island, are a serious cause for concern. As we approach the Easter holidays when families and friends take time off to gather and socialize, there is a real possibility that Sint Maarten will experience a major outbreak caused by the UK variant.
There are a number of measures that can be adopted as a country in order to prevent an outbreak of the UK variant. Firstly, vaccination! The Pfizer vaccine is effective against the UK variant, but to really have an impact on national transmission, more people need to be vaccinated. To put this in context, 19% of the population Sint Maarten population have been vaccinated.
Bonaire has vaccinated 18%, and yet Bonaire is in the midst of a major outbreak, which indicates that our vaccine coverage is still too low to prevent an outbreak of the UK variant. Vaccination is now open to all those 18-years and over, so please register to get your vaccine. Registration is free and the vaccine is free.
Secondly, testing; if you experience symptoms or you have been in contact with a known case, please call 914 or your General Practitioner, and go to get tested for free at the CPS testing location in Point Blanche which is open between 08:30 AM and 10:00 AM from Monday to Friday. Free testing is also available on the weekends, but you will need to make an appointment by calling 914.
Thirdly, non-pharmaceutical interventions: masks, social distancing, and handwashing; these three measures are the cornerstone of public health prevention. Please continue to adhere and comply with the rules, particularly over the long Easter-holiday weekend.
Therefore, members of the community are reminded to register for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Registration can be done via the online registration form which is available in English, Spanish, and Creole, and can be found via this link: https://forms.sintmaartengov.org/form.aspx?v=OGtn05kNmb
Both Cole Bay and Dutch Quarter Community Helpdesks are currently equipped to provide information and can assist with registration on the spot. They are open from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Monday to Friday. You must bring a form of identification when you visit the helpdesk.
Lastly, the paper-based “COVID Vaccine Registration Form” can be picked up at several locations, including CPS at the Vineyard Office Park Building, the Division of Labor Affairs at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center in Simpson Bay, doctors’ offices, the Government Administration Building, and select pharmacies.
Organizations who wish to inform their staff about the Covid-19 vaccine and vaccination program via an information session can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a friend, parent, neighbor, or relative that may need assistance with registration, transportation, or emotional support, please do your part. If you need help with the registration process, your appointment, or wish for more information about the vaccination campaign, you can also call CPS at 914 or email: email@example.com
Sint Maarten protected together.
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