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HILVERSUM – There is limited isolation capacity on the Winward islands, Statia doesn’t even have a possibility to quarantine a patient. This has been confirmed by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

The French side of Sint Maarten, the island neighboring Statia, had two confirmed cases of coronavirus at the beginning of the week. Alternatives for Statia are being looked into “but these are not easy to realize”, says the RIVM. “This is due to the lack of infrastructure and the lack of qualified personnel.”

The isolation capacity on Saba is also limited. There is one isolation room available. Saba and Statia are special municipalities of the Netherlands and as such fall under the direct responsibility of the Dutch Ministry of Health.

The policy of the Caribbean municipalities are the same as in the Netherlands: home isolation or being admitted to the hospital in an isolation room when the virus has been contracted. Saba and Statia depend on Sint Maarten for this. This means that when a patient contracts the virus on Statia they have to be transported by plane to Sint Maarten.

Infections on French Sint Maarten

The Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Silveria Jacobs, confirmed two cases of coronavirus at the beginning of the week. They are in isolation at the hospital on the French side of the island. Jacobs has activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the Dutch side of Sint Maarten.

According to the RIVM, there are plenty of qualified personnel on the islands. A survey conducted by the Dutch Ministry showed that Bonaire and Sint Maarten don’t have enough protective gear for medical personnel. The availability of these supplies in the area is extremely problematic, according to the RIVM. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) don’t have enough supplies to send to the islands and they cannot easily be purchased.

Test and contact investigation
Blood can be tested on Curaçao and Aruba. Positive results have to be confirmed in the Netherlands. At the moment tests cannot be carried out on Sint Maarten. The GGD on Sint Maarten has said that it’s experiencing problems while conducting the contact investigations.

Measures for tourists

The islands are dependent on the income from the tourist sector. The RIVM says that posters have been placed at the airports of Bonaire, Statia, and Saba informing tourists about the situation. According to the RIVM, Aruba has implemented several measures for tourists.

“These measures are being worked on Sint Maarten. Curaçao has not instituted any restrictive measures.”