Published On: Sat, Mar 14th, 2020

RIVM: ‘Don’t board a plane to or from the Netherlands’

KLM 111217

PHILIPSBURG – Those who have no compelling reason to travel from the Netherlands to one of the islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom are advised not to board a plane. The Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has sent warning letters to all governments within the Kingdom. It is also not recommended to travel to the Netherlands.

The number of deaths from the new coronavirus in the Netherlands has risen to twelve today. Since yesterday, 155 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This brings the total number of positive tested people to 959, according to data from RIVM. A total of 136 patients have been admitted to a hospital.

The province of Brabant was most affected by the virus. It is unclear how many patients contracted it. There seem to be many different sources of infection and that means that there may still be many people who have the virus among the numbers of those that are not known, says head of Infectious Diseases Jaap van Dissel of the RIVM.

In some places, especially in Noord-Brabant, it is no longer possible to contain the corona virus. Local transmission allows the virus to spread uncontrollably. RIVM takes into account that half of the Dutch population will get the corona virus in the coming years, Van Dissel told NRC Handelsblad.

There is no local transmission of the virus on St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and the BES islands. “To prevent the spread of COVID-19 from the Netherlands and, or other European countries to the Caribbean Netherlands and the other countries within the Kingdom, we advise to limit non-essential travel to and from these islands from the Netherlands,” writes Van Dissel in a letter to the governments and administrations of the islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

RIVM further states: “A similar policy would be considered for other destinations where local transmission is currently taking place on a more extensive scale. We understand that this will have serious economic implications. Because we do not know how the epidemic will develop, it is not possible to indicate in advance exactly for how long such measures must be implemented.”

It can take between two and 14 days for symptoms like fever and shortness of breath to manifest after exposure. The majority who get the virus suffer nothing more than a cough and may never know they are infected. So far, some 51,000 people around the world have already recovered from coronavirus – and that just includes the numbers who received a diagnosis. Officially, the death rate so far has been just over 3 per cent. But experts believe the true mortality rate is probably between 1 and 2 per cent. This is because most mild cases have not been picked up by doctors or reflected in the official numbers – so the death rate is inflated.

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Related links:
Letter RIVM

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UPDATE

Dutch government to shut down air traffic from Europe to BES islands; cargo flights allowed

The Dutch government will immediately suspend air traffic from Europe to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Minister Bruno Bruins of Medical Care reported on Saturday evening in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.

The flight ban will apply until at least March 27, but there is a chance that the measure will be extended if it proves necessary to combat the COVID-19 virus.

According to Minister Bruins, the situation is such that it is desirable to impose restrictions on air traffic for the islands. The restrictions have been in effect since 20:00 Saturday evening (Dutch local time).

The ban means that passenger flights from, among others, Europe to the airports on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are no longer allowed.

Aruba and Curaçao are also taking measures.

On Friday, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) gave advice to the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba to adjust air traffic to the Netherlands. Aruba and Curaçao already took measures themselves and halted air traffic. Sint Maarten may also do this.

Freight-only flights are not prohibited, the minister writes.