In the general interest

In the general interest

Today’s news on the latest report of the Netherlands’ Institute of Public Health and the Environment RIVM confirmed what already seemed clear: The Delta variant of COVID-19 has become dominant in the Dutch Caribbean.

St. Maarten’s positive test result rate of 63 persons per 100,000 inhabitants from July 15 to 21 surpassed the 42 of a week earlier by 50 per cent. For the French side it was even 144, stated RIVM.

That is still low compared to 310 in Curaçao, up from 105 the week before. The situation there was described as “alarming” and new precautionary measures (see related story) are under consideration. Bonaire also had near double (108) the cases per 100,000 inhabitants compared to a week earlier (56).

An increasing number of people ages 19-24 are getting infected. This regards the group most reluctant to vaccinate, mainly because the chance of them becoming very sick after contracting COVID-19 is much smaller than with older folks.

However, they can – often unknowingly – pass the potentially fatal disease on to others including vulnerable loved ones. As the Delta strain is also more contagious than its predecessors, injecting young adults – but also teenagers – has now become of greater significance than ever.

St. Maarten’s vaccination rate of 35 per cent is the lowest of all six islands, so there is still plenty of room for improvement needed to achieve at least relative herd immunity. Everyone without good reason to refuse the free shots should be strongly encouraged to take them in the general interest.