ORANJESTAD – On January 17, 2022, the Minister of Tourism and Public Health, Dangui Oduber, announced that they are working on a plan to learn to live with Covid-19.
The plan is titled “exit strategy”. The “exit strategy” is to go back to normal with precautions and calculated risks. Minister Oduber is convinced that Aruba has several instruments available to manage the crisis and to make it possible to measure this crisis differently.
During the entire crisis, the authorities tried to find a balance between health and economy but prioritized health more. This policy will remain unchanged. However, the government will evaluate other options. They will evaluate the economic, labor, financial and cultural models. In the Netherlands, the new minister of Public Health, Mr. Kuipers, mentioned that there should be another way to tackle the crisis.
Contents of the Exit Strategy plan:
- Start a discussion to declare this virus endemic. The virus has drastically mutated up to the current dominating variant, which is highly contagious but less lethal. It is also a fact to consider for declaring this pandemic endemic.
- Expansion of the ICU capacity to 16 ICU beds, including the necessary personnel. AMI Expeditionary Healthcare personnel is very costly for Aruba and the Netherlands. That is why Aruba needs to expand its ICU capacity on its own. Covid testing has generated generous funds for the LabHOH and AZV. The AZV agreed to invest 2,4 million florins in the ICU expansion, including the recruitment of additional ICU personnel.
- Eliminate the mandatory Covid insurance for travelers while introducing a levy to generate primarily funds to invest in healthcare.
- Covid testing upon arrival will also change for both visitors and residents. They will ease the entry policy starting January 18, 2022. Antigen Tests are accepted for entry in Aruba. The 24 hours timeframe for PCR testing before boarding is now 48 hours. Testing for locals will also change. The current testing protocols are no longer effective nor sustainable of the widespread of Omicron among the community. Sentinel testing will replace the current testing protocols. This testing means that physicians will select a variety of their patients for testing to get an overview of the covid situation in Aruba.
- Continue the focus on the booster shot and vaccines. The vaccine has proven its efficiency and is advisable for a while. During the 4th wave, there were 116 patients hospitalized, of which 82% were unvaccinated.
- Reinforcement of the Department of Public Health.
- Elimination of all measures and complete reopening of Aruba.
According to the Minister, Aruba is currently in the 5th Covid 19 wave, and other variants may emerge. “Aruba has to learn how to live with the virus because it may never stop existing”.