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WILLEMSTAD – The government of Curaçao announced on extra measures on Monday to combat the coronavirus on the island. Three individuals on the island have tested positive for the novel corona virus. What happens when there are more cases of the coronavirus?

Curaçao has a total of 300 hospital beds, seven or so functioning Intensive Care-beds, and 16 ventilators. According to Head of Disaster Relief and Risk Management, Lesley Fer, the disaster relief organization has been activated.

“We’re in constant contact with the Defense department and the Red Cross for example. The Emergency Support Functions are also ready.” These are for example companies and institutions which maintain the communication networks, water supply, power networks, and ambulance services.”

The role of the Defense department
A request for assistance has not yet been sent to the ministry of Defense. Spokesperson Canan Babayigit confirms this. It is not the task of the Defense department to help with medical emergencies nor do they have the capacity to do so. “We do have a number of beds and doctors for our own personnel, but we cannot supply one hundred beds for example.”

Babayigit explains that this is a country affair and that any additional help needs to be flown in. “If a request comes in, we will help where we can, but true medical assistance is difficult to provide. We are not responsible for that.”

‘Greatest risk avoided’
Epidemiologist Izzy Gerstenbluth believes that the scenario where for example half of the population gets infected, has been avoided. “The greatest risk factor, flights from Europe, have been restricted.”

He still owes us an answer to the question of how many sick individuals Curaçao can handle. “The CMC is prepared and we have several isolation possibilities. If need be we could lock down an entire department.”

Extra beds
Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath emphasizes that due to the lack of capacity and the small size of the island, the decision to close the airspace for European flights was made quickly.

He says that extra capacity is being looked into. “For example, we are looking into extra beds in the old hospital, the Sint Elisabeth Hospital. It remains to be seen however if we have enough personnel to man for example the ventilators.”

Latest measures on Curaçao

On Monday the government of Curaçao announced new measures against the virus. No flights will  be allowed to land, except for those carrying individuals who live on the island and have a return ticket. Sea and air freight are still allowed to come to the island.

The only people who are allowed to leave the island are those individuals who do not live here and want to return to their homeland. Everyone who returns from abroad will need to go into pre-emptive quarantine at home.

Next to this, all public events, such as social, sports, and religious events have been canceled. Restaurants and bars are only open for take-out orders, if this is not possible they have to close down. More information on this issue will be provided later.

The prime minister is requesting that everyone follows the social distancing  measures: stay at least 2 meters away from the closest person. This is also advisable at the gas station, the supermarkets, and other spaces where people gather.

The prime minister emphasized that the house should only be left when that is absolutely necessary and to work from home as much as possible.