Looking at the current COVID-19 health crisis in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao (the so-called ABC islands), St. Maarten has been quite fortunate so far to avoid a spike in coronavirus infections fuelled by the new variants that many other territories are experiencing. The latter are highly contagious, contributing to a fast-escalating spread.
This can happen here at any time too if people start disregarding the facemask-wearing, hand-cleaning and social-distancing rules because the worst seems over. The population is now being vaccinated and late last week nearly 11,000 registrations were announced, but that was still only 16 per cent of adult inhabitants when 70 per cent will be needed to achieve herd immunity and make “regular” human contact relatively safe again.
However, only seniors, medical professionals and persons with conditions making them vulnerable to COVID-19 had been able to register until recently, so those numbers should quickly rise in the days and weeks ahead. It may thus be possible to attain the set goal by the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season just two months from now as intended.
This is the only way the country can truly enter the local post-pandemic phase, although of course much also depends on the situation across the open border. It was therefore good to read in Monday’s paper of another high-level meeting between the Dutch and French sides of the island on synchronising health protocols and vaccination strategies.
It has been an extremely difficult past year for practically everybody, but there appears to finally be some light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel. Letting one’s guard down with that finish line in plain sight would make any negative consequences even more regrettable.