More COVID-19 cases on islands in October

More cor­onavirus COVID-19 cases were reported in the Dutch Caribbean in October this year than in the previous month, stated the Dutch National Institute for Pub­lic Health and the Environment RIVM in its recent monthly update about the Caribbean part of the King­dom.

In total, 545 positive test results were reported on the six islands in October, versus 450 in September.

St. Maarten had 66 posi­tive test results, which is more than the 15 cases that were confirmed in Septem­ber. There was an outbreak in a nursing home, but the RIVM report did not spec­ify the institution. Most patients had mild symptoms. In St. Maarten, there were fewer than five COVID­19-related hospital admis­sions and fewer than five persons died from COV­ID-19. For privacy reasons, the RIVM does not specify the numbers when it con­cerns fewer than five cases. The exact number is only mentioned when it is five of more.

In Curacao, the number of COVID-19 hospital admis­sions went up from fewer than five in September to 15 in October, of whom 14 were over the age of 60. The increased hospital admissions did not result in adding too much strain on healthcare and the ma­jority were short admis­sions of under 72 hours. In Curacao, six persons died from COVID-19, and they were all older than 60 years.

There were no COVID­19-related hospital ad­missions or deaths in St. Eustatius and Saba. In St. Eustatius, eight positive test results were reported in October, which is more than in the previous month, when there were fewer than five. Seven of the eight per­sons who tested positive had no recent travel histo­ry, which makes it probable that these concerned local transmissions.

In Saba, the number of COVID-19 cases went down in October, with fewer than five positive test results compared to 16 in September. Curacao re­ported 121 new COVID-19 cases in October, which is almost double the 66 in September.

In Aruba, 249 positive test results were reported in October; there were 21 COVID-19-related hospi­tal admissions and fewer than five persons died from COVID-19. These figures are almost the same as in September, when there were 244 COVID-19 cases and 19 hospital admissions related to the disease. Most patients were admitted for less than 72 hours.

In Bonaire, 112 COV­ID-19 cases were reported in October, a small in­crease compared to the 92 in September. More tests were performed in Bonaire in October because of in­creased tourism from the Netherlands. There were fewer than five hospital ad­missions and no COVID-19 deaths.

The RIVM is keeping a keen eye on five subvari­ants that are circulating on the islands. In Curacao, subvariant BA.5 was most often detected. In Aruba, the BF.7 subvariant was mostly found. In Saba, all infections were of the BA.7 subvariant. In Curacao, the BA.5 subvariant was domi­nant and in Bonaire, this was the BA.5.1/BA.5.2 sub-variant.

No samples were sub­mitted from St. Maarten or St. Eustatius in Octo­ber. In September, the BA.2.75 and BA.4.6 sub-variants were dominant in St. Maarten. In July, the BA.2.12.1, BA.4.1 and BA.5.1/5.2 subvariants were detected in St. Eusta­tius.

The test policy has gradu­ally changed on the islands since the start of the pan­demic. Not all persons with symptoms are tested any­more, so the actual number of COVID-19 cases is much higher than mentioned by the RIVM. Until April 26, 2022, testing was free in St. Maarten. Since then, test­ing is no longer free. Those who opt to get tested are mostly travellers and (in­sured) persons with symp­toms and at a higher risk. In the last week of Septem­ber, the autumn round of the COVID-19 vaccination started in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Per­sons older than 60 with a medical risk and healthcare workers were invited first. People can get a booster vaccination three months after their last vaccination or COVID-19 infection.

The Daily Herald.

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