Statement by Lt. Governor Edison Rijna, August 13, 2020, presenting the Bonaire COVID-19 update:
Today I would like to address a number of topics that are all related to COVID-19.
COVID-19 seems far away because there are currently no infections on Bonaire. At the same time, many residents on Bonaire are concerned because of the number of people with COVID-19 in Aruba, which means there is a chance that travelers will bring the virus to Bonaire. We are responsible for preventing the virus from spreading. We do this by keeping our distance from each other. This also means keeping your distance when greeting, so don’t shake hands, hug, give a high five or elbow. It is also important to avoid crowds, because the virus can spread easily in groups. In addition, there are all kinds of hygiene measures such as regularly washing your hands with soap and water, not touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and sneezing and coughing in your elbow or paper tissues. Finally, do you have any complaints? Then stay at home and call the free number 0800-0800. If everyone follows these measures, we will make it very difficult for the virus to spread and protect ourselves and those around us.
As of August 6, 2020, Bonaire has suspended the “air bubble” with Aruba due to the increase in the number of people with COVID-19. Aruba is now a high-risk country just like Sint Maarten. The airspace will remain open, but passengers are no longer allowed to travel freely from Aruba and Sint Maarten to Bonaire and vice versa. The decision comes after the number of cases of people infected with COVID-19 has drastically increased in Aruba.
Travelers between Aruba, Sint Maarten and Bonaire are advised to postpone their trip. Persons who have to come to Bonaire from Aruba or Sint Maarten for a special reason are obliged to complete the health declaration and are quarantined for 14 days as stated in the Emergency Ordinance (updated Aujgust 13, 2020).
Anyone who has been to Aruba through August 5 and has returned should keep a close eye on their own health. If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, please report to Public Health via toll-free number 0800-0800. The same if you have visited the bars and gym that are classified as risk locations. If this is not the case, then – as always – keep your distance, do not go to large meetings, stay at home in case of complaints and call 0800-0800 immediately. Children who returned from Aruba last week and have not had direct contact with a positive person can go to school next week. If the children have been in contact with positively tested persons, the children should stay at home and contact the Public Health Department on free number 0800 0800.
Return to Bonaire
Residents of Bonaire who are still on Aruba can return to Bonaire with an exemption from the Island Governor. This exemption can be requested at firstname.lastname@example.org From the moment the airspace opened in July, it has already been indicated that travel takes place at your own risk. So there will be no financial support for people who cannot return. Residents of Aruba who are on Bonaire are responsible for arranging their return to Aruba.
Travel to Saba
With regard to travel to Saba, everyone who goes to Saba must be quarantined because of the increase in infections within the “air bubble.”
Acute and intensive care
The acute and intensive care is in order. The hospital has extra resources and staff and has thus expanded the IC capacity to 7 IC beds. If more complex or different medical care is required, patients are flown to a hospital in the region. For this, 2 air ambulances are available 24/7 at our airport. The non-COVID-19 care will continue as usual. Both flows of patients can be accommodated and treated. Because visiting specialists from Aruba are currently unable to come to Bonaire, the care in question is provided via remote digital consultations as much as possible.
Anyone with health problems that could indicate COVID-19 can be tested. These complaints are: cold in the nose, sore throat, cough, fever or increase or sudden loss of smell or taste. In case of complaints, call the toll-free number 0800-0800. This number is available every day from 8:00 AM through 10:00 PM. They are called back by a nurse from the Public Health department, who makes an appointment for the test.
On Tuesday, August 18 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, people with minor health complaints can have themselves tested in the COVID-Drive Through. Call 0800-0800 for an appointment. People who have a fever and are quite ill should not wait for the Drive-Thru testing, but instead stay at home and call 0800-0800. They are tested at home.
Back to school
It is important for children to go to school and to play, learn and exercise together. This is important for their health and for their development. Research has shown that children do not often transmit the virus. That is why the children of primary education and SGB can go to school as usual.
The measures taken before the school holiday are still in effect at the start of the new school year. For example, it concerns hygiene measures, keeping their distance and parents are not allowed in the schoolyard. It is of great importance that children who have a cold and a fever or cough do not go to school for a while but wait at home until the complaints have disappeared.
We see that risk awareness is low among many people. This really needs to change. In other countries, group infections increase after events and other activities where many people gather. That is why social distance is immediately included in the emergency ordinance. We will be very cautious about granting permits for events and will look again at permits already issued. It is critically examined whether the organizer is able to organize the event in a safe and responsible manner to protect public health.
Many companies on Bonaire are now taking their responsibility–think of registering customers in restaurants and canceling events. I appreciate the companies doing this and hope other companies will follow suit. We need these good initiatives on the island to prevent the spread of the virus and to be able to conduct good source and contact research.
Yesterday, the Tweede Kamer unanimously passed a motion by D66 in which a test obligation is set for all travelers to Bonaire. This is a good development for Bonaire to protect public health against COVID-19. We will continue to monitor developments and hope that the government will respond positively to this motion.
We are all done with COVID-19, but COVID-19 is not done with us yet. The virus is still there. Even if it is difficult, it is important that we stick to the measures. So avoid crowded places and keep five feet apart, also indoors. This is the only way we protect each other and stop the spread of the virus. It is important that everyone realizes that we are responsible for our own health and that of our loved ones. Only together can we get COVID-19 under control.
View Lt. Governor Rijna’s Bonaire COVID-19 update, presented in Papiamentu.