Speech by Dr. Marian Luinstra-Passchier Bonaire October 6th

Kralendijk – Several weeks ago Bonaire entered a new phase as far as coronavirus developments are concerned.  At last week’s press conference I explained to you how the virus spread on Bonaire during the period from September 11- 27. It goes without saying that last week the Public Health Department was also very busy investigating and monitoring the situation on our island. Today I would like to give you a short update about how the situation has developed over the last week.

One of the most striking observations is that there seem to be fewer active infections each day than there were in the weeks before. This is good news, but we have to keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean we are nearing the end. Yesterday’s test results are proof of that.  You can see that today we only received five results of which four were positive. This is due to the fact that there was no drive through at the test site on Sunday, but the lab still was processing a few results from the days before. It is more important to look at the trend than the specific number each day.  We do see that the average number of positive results per day has decreased by two. We hope that this trend will continue. On the other hand, however, we are performing significantly less tests. The following graph shows how many test results came in each day between September 19 and October 6.  It shows very clearly that significantly less people have had themselves tested in the last week than in the previous period. Two weeks ago an average of about 80 people had themselves tested per day.  Now, on average only 30 to 40 people report for testing each day.

Of course this may have several causes. It could be due to the fact that fewer people have symptoms related to COVID-19. That would be favorable; it would mean that we do indeed have less active infections on Bonaire. But it may also signify that fewer people want to be tested for whatever reason. If this is the case, then we do not have an accurate picture of all cases of infection.  That is why I would like to appeal to you again: if you have any symptoms, please get tested!

You may think: well, I only have a minor cold or a bit of a sore throat for a day.  Have yourself tested anyway, so that we can make sure that it is not COVID. Maybe some of you are a bit anxious about such a test. For these people I would like to briefly explain our testing procedure. 

You phone 0800 0800 and you state your symptoms. During this telephone call you will be asked a number of questions, which will enable the Public Health Department to properly keep monitoring the situation on our island. On the phone you will also make an appointment for a test, which will usually be sometime the next morning. On the day of the appointment you will drive to the test location at the Public Health Department. Please wear a face mask and bring tissues. When you arrive, the test procedure will be explained to you and the test will be administered.  This will take a few minutes.

After the test you should drive straight home. Do not stop at the supermarket but drive straight home.

After that, you must remain at home until you are called with the test result. This whole process usually takes three days, sometimes not even that. If you have tested negative you may leave your house again and continue your normal activities. 

But be aware: Should you be in quarantine, then you will still have to wait until that quarantine has come to an end. I will provide further information about this in a moment. If your test result is positive a Public Health employee will give you further instructions over the phone. Together we will then review all your contacts and explain how long you have to remain at home.

I would also like to run through the quarantine process with you, since it does not appear to be clear to everyone. Quarantine is a period of time in which a healthy person isolates themselves after having had close contact with an infected person. So, if someone has been within one and a half meters of a person with COVID, they have to stay at home.  Typically, this means that they have been in contact with members of the same household, including children. To prevent such persons from infecting other people without knowing that they have COVID, these people have to stay at home until they have not had any contact with someone who has COVID for 14 days. 

When we phone someone to tell them that they need to go into quarantine we will also establish how long this quarantine should last.  Sometimes it is only a few days because the exposure has almost been 14 days ago.  In some cases quarantine will be longer than 14 days. This may happen, for example, if someone is still in contact with the infected person because they live in the same house. We try to prevent this, but it is not always possible.  In principle quarantine generally lasts 14 days, but may sometimes be longer or shorter. In each individual case we try to determine this very carefully, so that we all can remain safe while we do not confine people to their homes unnecessarily. 

If someone develops symptoms during quarantine they should have themselves tested just like everybody else. Testing, therefore, may be either related or unrelated to quarantine.  If you get tested while you are in quarantine and you are negative, you still need to remain at home for the duration of your designated quarantine period.

In summary, you have seen that the number of positive tests has decreased in the last week, even though there were many new infections yesterday. This is a positive sign, but we are not there yet.  The virus is expected to stay among us for a long time. It is only if everyone who has symptoms gets tested, that we will get a clear picture of how the outbreak is developing on Bonaire. Continue to adhere to the measures concerning hygiene and conduct and adhere to the rules and restrictions of your quarantine to protect yourself and others.  It is only with joint effort that we will be able to get a handle on corona.

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