CPS is located in the Vineyard Building
PHILIPSBURG–Even though the current numbers of active cases are now relatively low on St. Maarten, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) has concluded, based on genotyping results that the British (UK) variant of COVID-19 is now circulating on St. Maarten.
At least 24 people have been detected with the British variant. While some of these cases can be linked to travel from Aruba and Curaçao, most were residents without a travel history. This indicates that that there is already local transmission of the British variant among the community of St. Maarten.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao (ABC islands) are experiencing an explosive rise in COVID-19 infections. In a matter of weeks, the number of active cases in Curaçao went from just a handful to more than five thousand due to this more contagious British variant.
Aruba’s Public Health Directorate DVG has advised that people who suffered from coronavirus COVID-19 in the past six months and recovered need to take the vaccine only once rather than twice. The government agency says because former cases have already built-up antibodies, a single injection boosts their immunisation to a much higher level than others. This will now be applied only for persons with both a positive- and subsequent negative test result from mid-October last year.
The result is that Curaçao now has code black, with an overfull hospital and one of the highest infection rates in the world. “It is not unlikely that a similar scenario could happen on St. Maarten within the near future since the British variant is now circulating on our island. Our current vaccination numbers (which are similar to those of Bonaire) are not yet sufficient to prevent a third wave,” said CPS.
CPS urged persons to remain vigilant. “Please keep your social distance, wear your mask and wash your hands. These three measures are the cornerstone of public health prevention. Please continue to adhere to and comply with the rules.”
It is extremely important that if persons experience symptoms or have been in contact with a known case, to stay home and call 914 or their GP.
Persons can get tested free of charge and without an appointment at Point Blanche between 08:30am – 11:00am, Monday to Friday. Free testing is also available on the weekends, but persons will need to make an appointment via 914. “We would like to remind the public that CPS does not provide pre-travel testing,” the department said.
In anticipation of the news of the British variant, the Vaccination Management Team (VMT) decided to immediately scale up the vaccination rate, to make sure that as many persons as possible are protected against this third wave.
Starting today Monday, April 12 the Belair Community Center will scale up from six to eight vaccination lines, which should make it possible to vaccinate a total number of 1,000 persons every day collectively between the two vaccination locations.
The situation on the ABC islands has already increased the daily registration numbers on St. Maarten. Where the average daily registrations since the start of the campaign have been around 250 per day, these numbers went up last week with an average of 350-400 persons registering daily.
“The VMT links this spike directly to the current situation on our sister islands as many people have friends and family living here. More and more people now realize how serious the situation is, and that a similar situation could also happen here.
And even though this increased registration rate is a good start, the VMT would like to warn that we still have a long way to go. Currently, we have about 13,000 registrations, while 34,000 fully vaccinated persons (70 per cent of the population) are needed to create herd immunity,” said the VMT.
The Pfizer vaccine is effective against the UK variant, but to really have an impact on national transmission, more persons need to be vaccinated. “To put this in context, we have vaccinated 19 per cent of the population. Bonaire has vaccinated 18 per cent, 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,” warned the VMT.
Vaccination is now open to all those 18 years and older. Persons are again urged to register to get vaccinated. Registration is free and vaccination is free.
“An outbreak, as seen on the ABC islands usually starts slow, but once it’s increasing it is very difficult to stop. Therefore, immediate action is required now, while we still have a grip on the situation,” the VMT continued.
Registration can be done online 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.
The paper based “COVID Vaccine Registration Form” can be picked up at several locations, including CPS at the Vineyard Office Park Building, the Department of Labor Affairs at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center Bay, doctors’ offices, the Government Administration Building and select pharmacies.
The Cole Bay and Dutch Quarter Community Help Desks are currently equipped to provide information and can assist with registration on the spot. They are open from 8:30am to 12:30pm, Monday to Friday. Persons must bring a form of identification when visiting the helpdesk.
“If you have a friend, parent, neighbour, or relative that may need assistance with registration, transportation, or emotional support, please do your part,” said the release.
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Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/24-cases-of-uk-variant-detected-in-st-maarten