Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (2660)

‘Keep your children home,’ mayors urge parents amid fears of further trouble

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Rotterdam mayor Achmed Aboutaleb has spoken directly to the hundred or so youths involved in Monday evening’s riot, asking them if they now ‘feel happy’ with themselves.

Over 50 people were arrested after going on the rampage in the south of the city, smashing windows and looting shops. ‘Do you feel good, now you have caused havoc in your city, that you have caused damage to your city’s shopkeepers?’ Aboutaleb said. ‘Does it feel good to wake up next to a bag full of stolen things?’

Aboutaleb also appealed to parents. ‘Did you miss your son?’ he said. ‘Did you ask where he was. Did you ring him and tell him to come home because it was 9pm?

De dag na de geweldsuitbarsting in Zuid, de stad ruimt de scherven op. Bgm Aboutaleb spreekt de relschoppers en ouders toe, steekt ondernemers een hart onder de riem. En dankt de politie en diensten voor hun inzet. — B en W Rotterdam (@College010) January 26, 2021

Aboutaleb, who is known for his plain speaking, goes on to tell the city’s businessmen and women that they will be helped. ‘We are going to support you and help you to make a new start,’ he said.

‘Because we won’t give up.’ Elsewhere, local mayors have been evoking their emergency powers to nip any violence on Tuesday evening in the bud. In Den Bosch, city officials say people have been placing messages on social media calling for more trouble, and some shop keepers have begun boarding up their windows.

The city’s mayor Jack Mikkers has also called on parents to keep their children home. Enschede and Amsterdam’s mayors made similar appeals. The youngest of the 184 rioters arrested on Monday evening was 14.

Criminal violence

Prime minister Mark Rutte has issued a second statement describing the rioting as ‘criminal violence’. De rellen hebben niets te maken met protesteren of strijden voor de vrijheid. We moeten samen de strijd tegen het virus winnen, want alleen zo krijgen we onze vrijheid terug. — Mark Rutte (@MinPres) January 26, 2021

These riots are nothing to do with protests or fighting for freedom, he said. ‘We have to defeat the virus together, because that is the only way we will get our freedom back.’

CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra said there would be no turning back on the curfew. ‘We’re not going to capitulate for a few idiots,’ he said. The first of the rioters to face criminal proceedings will be in court for a fast-track hearing on Wednesday.



AstraZeneca production problems will hold up vaccination – De Jonge

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Health minister Hugo de Jonge has warned that problems with delivering the AstraZeneca vaccine could hold up the Dutch vaccination schedule still further.

The Netherlands was the last country in Europe to begin immunising its population and passed the 100,000 mark at the weekend, representing less than 1% of the population. Among the 27 EU nations only Bulgaria has a lower vaccination rate.

But De Jonge said any delay to the AstraZeneca vaccine would have consequences for the Netherlands, even though it has yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The European Union was due to receive 80 million doses of the vaccine in the first three months of 2021, but on Friday the Oxford-based company said only around 31 million doses would be available.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca blamed ‘reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain’. The Netherlands will now receive around 920,000 doses rather than 2.3 million in the first quarter, under the EU’s population-based distribution system.

The EMA is expected to make a decision on approving the vaccine by the end of January. De Jonge said the announcement was a ‘bolt from the blue’ and backed efforts in Brussels to ensure AstraZeneca fulfilled its contractural obligations.

‘Significant investment’

He insisted that the Netherlands’ vaccination programme could still meet its targets. ‘I still want to have all the groups that we regard as priority vaccinated before the summer, and everyone by the autumn.’

A spokesman for the European Commission said on Monday: ‘The EU has invested significant amounts in the company up front, precisely to ensure that production is ramped up even before the conditional market authorisation is delivered by the EMA.

Of course, production issues can appear with a complex vaccine, but we expect the company to find solutions and to exploit all possible flexibilities to deliver swiftly.’



UP Party condemns Dutch Christian Democratic Party’s remarks about Bryson

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) —To read an article that shows a Member of Parliament in The Hague questioning our Party’s Leader for interacting with a Citizen of St. Maarten, and making that a focal point for discussion, at a time when our people are suffering through a global pandemic, economic decline, job loss, homelessness and an uncertain future, belittles the integrity of our elected leaders.

The UP Party issued the press release Sunday evening saying it found the article that appeared in the local newspaper portrayed an arrogant insistence by Dutch Politicians that they can dictate every action our elected officials take, without regard for the masses who they represent.

“The Honorable Rolando Bryson as President of Parliament has a responsibility to all Citizens of this Country and no one should be telling grown people who they can and cannot be in contact with. Whatever the Dutch Government’s gripe or burden with Francesco Corallo is not for the citizens of St. Maarten or its politicians to carry. It is unreasonable to assume that as members of our small community, we cannot be cordial with each other or risk ridicule by the Dutch Government. Whatever their agenda, it is for them to address on their own terms,” the release stated.

Mr. Corallo is a major contributor to St. Maarten’s economic development through his various business initiatives that have kept hundreds of people employed even at a time when thousands have been laid off.

According to the UP Party, “We remind the Dutch Government of the European Union EU Directive 2016/343 / EU of 9 March 2016, in Art.  4, which requires member states to 'take the necessary measures to ensure that, until the guilt of a suspect or accused person has been legally proven, public statements made by public authorities and judicial decisions other than those on guilt do not condemn the people as guilty.” 

“We the United People’s Party formally declare this to be an insult to the intelligence of our people. The Dutch Government through its financial assistance has made many unreasonable demands in exchange for helping the people and Government of St. Maarten address its financial shortfalls.

“Challenges that were magnified because of COVID-19, forced us to accept these conditions, which we are well aware constantly change after being met. However, to tell our politicians and parliamentarians they cannot associate with certain citizens of this country, or to suggest that by doing so they are doing something wrong/illegal is not a condition we will accept.”

The UP Party stands firmly in support of its Members of Parliament in their pursuit for Decolonization and in their efforts to bring public and private sector organizations together especially in this dark economic time. We urge the citizens of St. Maarten to recognize that though it is not a popular and exciting topic, finalizing the Decolonization of St. Maarten is even more important today as is evident by the boldfaced insinuation that our Political leaders should not speak to some of the citizens of this country. To do this is besmirch one’s character. As far as we are aware every citizen has a legal right to a defense and innocent or guilty, is the role of the Court.

This is neither democracy or politics but rather a petty attempt at slowing the process of rebuilding St. Maarten and keep us dependent.

The UP Party said it has not been critical of the Dutch Government after their new Cabinet fell in ruins over a scandal, but noted that “it does teach a valuable lesson. When your neighbors house is on fire, don’t celebrate before you wet yours down.”

MP Bryson has nothing to hide and has a responsibility to represent the people of this country, whether they elected him or not. The nature of the conversation he had with the businessman could have been about anything including ensuring that the people in his employ are being cared for and have job security. After all, he was elected into office to serve the people.


Positive coronavirus tests dip below 5,000; 3,600 are fined for breaking curfew

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The public health institute RIVM registered 4,924 positive coronavirus tests in the 24 hours to Sunday morning, down some 500 on Saturday and the first dip below the weekly average in four days.

The new figures take the total number of positive coronavirus tests in the Netherlands since the pandemic began last February to 945,000, out of a population of 17.4 million, news website said.

The Netherlands introduced a curfew on Saturday night with the aim of reducing socialising and so cutting the spread of the virus, particularly the more infectious variant first identified in Britain.

Police say the first night of the curfew went relatively smoothly despite trouble in Urk and Stein. Nevertheless, they still handed out 3,600 fines to people who were outside after 9pm without a valid reason and arrested 25.

The high number of fines is because of the strict approach which had been adopted from the word go, police spokesman Willem Woelders told the website.



Slight rise in new coronavirus cases, as curfew comes into effect

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The public health institute RIVM has registered 5,487 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, down from Friday but slightly up on the average over the past seven days.

There was, however, a marginal reduction in the number of people being treated in for coronavirus in hospital. In total, 2,306 people are currently in hospital with coronavirus, a drop of 52 on Friday. Of them, 673 are in intensive care.

The Netherlands will be under curfew from 9pm to 4.30am from Saturday night until at least the morning of February 10 in an effort to get the number of positive coronavirus cases down.

Meanwhile, Haarlemmermeer police say they have fined a number of youngsters who were attending a party under a railway viaduct in Hoofddorp on Friday night. Some 100 to 150 youngsters were at the event.



Oxford vaccine delays mean Dutch need to rethink vaccine strategy

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Problems at a production plant in Belgium where the AstraZeneca vaccine is made mean the Dutch coronavirus vaccination strategy needs to be thought out again, and further delays could be on the cards.

On Friday night AstraZeneca said that it would only be able to deliver 60% of Europe’s orders in the first quarter of 2020 because of production issues. This means that the Netherlands will get 920,000 doses rather than the planned 2.3 million.

The Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine is seen to be key to efforts to control coronavirus because it is cheaper to produce and can be stored at fridge temperature and the Dutch vaccination strategy largely revolves around it.

‘Which ever way you look at it, you are going to have put the vaccine puzzle together again,’ Ben van der Zeijst, former head of the Dutch vaccine institute and the vaccine department at the public health institute, told Radio 1. ‘The plan was to vaccinate an awful lot of people with this vaccine.’

In particular, the AstraZeneca vaccine had been earmarked for the over-60s living at home, people aged 18 to 60 with health issues, and community nurses. It would also be the main vaccine for the rest of the population under the age of 60.

One option would be to delay giving the second dose, Van der Zeijst said, adding that this is something which the European Medicines Agency may outline on Friday, when it is expected to give approval to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Currently, the Netherlands plans a gap of 12 weeks between the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but this could be easily stretched to 24 weeks, Van der Zeijst said.


Dutch health ministry officials say they are due to talk to AstraZeneca about the first quarter delivery schedule next week.

‘We have always said that information about which vaccine is being delivered and in what quantity are subject to change,’ a spokesman said. According to the Parool, the AstraZeneca problems may mean a larger role for the Janssen vaccine, developed in Leiden by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

That vaccine is currently undergoing Phase 3 trials and, if all goes well, with approval process could start in February, the paper said.

Last week, health minister Hugo de Jonge took the decision to postpone the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by two weeks so more people can be vaccinated. The Dutch vaccination strategy to date had been heavily criticised for being slow off the mark.



The Netherlands brings in a curfew from 9pm on Saturday

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands will be under curfew from 9pm to 4.30am from Saturday until at least February 9, after a majority of MPs voted in favour of the plan, following a full day of debate.

Coalition party D66, a known opponent of the cabinet’s original proposal, drew up a motion supporting the 9pm start, which is half an hour later than the cabinet had suggested. The motion was supported by the other three coalition parties plus the Socialist Party, Labour Party, GroenLinks and 50Plus.

The two far right parties PVV and FvD, plus fundamentalist Christian party SGP and the pro-animal PvdD voted against. MPs spent most of Thursday debating the caretaker cabinet’s decision to introduce the curfew in an effort to keep more virulent strains of coronavirus at bay.

Coronavirus in the Netherlands: what you need to know (January 22) A further 5,857 new infections were reported to the public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, a rise of 260 on Wednesday’s total, and further evidence that the current restrictions are not yet having sufficient impact.

The introduction of a curfew is the best way to reduce the number of infections taking place at home, Rutte said. The only alternative, he said, was to advise everyone to stay indoors, which would be even more far-reaching.


During the debate, a number of MPs raised concerns about the impact of a curfew on people who are already feeling more lonely and depressed because of the current restrictions.

Others said the government had failed to properly enforce the rules already in place and had not been quick enough off the mark with the vaccination programme.

MPs were also angry that ministers had not yet gotten tough on companies which were still forcing their staff to come to the office, even though a considerable proportion (16%) of traced infections are taking place at work.


Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs the list of exceptions to the curfew had been deliberately kept as short as possible to ensure as many people as possible comply.

The fine for breaking the curfew without a valid reason will be €95, but people who forge an employer’s declaration stating they have to be out late will get a higher fine, and a criminal record, he said.



Mass testing in a small town shows new coronavirus variant is not yet widespread

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Mass testing of people in a small town near Rotterdam where the more infectious variant of coronavirus had formed a cluster at a primary school has revealed that the new strain is not extremely widespread.

In total, 45,000 out of 60,000 residents in Lansingerland have so far forward to be tested after the outbreak of the B-117 variant of the virus. Researchers from the local health board and Erasmus teaching hospital have analysed half the tests so far, and found 242 people with coronavirus.

Some 12% of them had the B-117 or ‘British’ variant, but that percentage was far lower among people with no connection to the Willibrordusschool. Only one case was found in the adjoining school buildings, the researchers said.

Officials say that the new variant is responsible for some 10% of infections nationwide. The outbreak at the school involved 46 adults and children and would now appear to be under control, officials said.

The source of the infectious has not yet been identified. ‘This emphasises the importance of keeping to the rules,’ health board doctor Ewout Fanoy told broadcaster NOS. ‘Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can be infected with coronavirus and thus infect others.’



Experts are confident delaying second coronavirus jab is ‘safe’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The decision to postpone the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by two weeks so more people can be vaccinated in the first round is ‘not ideal’, experts have said, but is inevitable in the light of the threat posed by the more infectious B-117 variant.

Health institute RIVM initially put the recommended time between vaccinations at 19 to 28 days, based on the timeline adopted by Pfizer, but health minister Hugo de Jonge said on Wednesday that is now being extended to up to 42 days.

Marc Kapitein, director of Pfizer NL, told television talk show Op1 on Wednesday evening that approval for the vaccine is based on an interval of 21 days and that is what is officially recommended.

‘That 21 days did not come out of thin air,’ he said. ‘…Then we can guarantee 95% efficacy. If you extend it, we can’t give that guarantee. At the same time, given the risks of the British variant, it is understandable that that decision has been taken.’

Professor of immunology Marjolein van Egmond told broadcaster NOS that to postpone the second vaccination is ‘not ideal’ but safe. ‘The second jab is very important but to postpone it for a couple of weeks won’t make a huge difference,’ she said.

The Dutch medicines evaluation board CBG, which was involved in approving the vaccine, has also said it is not expecting the postponement to compromise efficacy, a spokesman told NOS.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge made the move based on the joint recommendation of the Outbreak Management Team and the national health council.


At Wednesday’s press conference, De Jonge particularly stressed the threat of new, more contagious strains. The B-117 strain first encountered in Britain now accounts for some 10% of infections and the RIVM has warned it may become the dominant strain in the Netherlands by March.

None of the parties is in favour of a longer wait than six weeks, as has been done in Britain, which could, the OMT said, result in ‘a sub-optimal protection between the first and the second vaccination’.

The new government vaccine information confirms the new schedule will apply to people who have not yet been vaccinated. Vaccinations of people who have had the first jab and who have already been scheduled for the second dose, will go ahead as planned.

De Jonge told Wednesday’s press conference the much-criticised Dutch vaccination programme will really speed up when the Astra Zeneca vaccine comes online. ‘That is the real game changer,’ he said.

The Netherlands has gone in big on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and expects 4.5 million doses in the first quarter of the year and a further 5.2 million shots in the second quarter.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to complete its assessments of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the end of January.



When is it your turn to get vaccinated? The schedule so far

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – So when will it be your turn to get the coronavirus vaccine? The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are currently being rolled out in the Netherlands, are primarily aimed at protecting the most vulnerable groups in society.

If you are not among them, the most likely vaccine to – eventually – enter your bloodstream will be the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, which, approval pending, is expected to be ready for action later next month.

Not that it matters, because you do not get to choose your vaccine (see below). When it’s time for your population group to be vaccinated, you’ll get an invitation, either by letter or email.

It will say what you have to take with you (such as your ID). It will also tell you where you can get the vaccination. This could be at a large vaccination centre run by the regional health service (GGD), at your doctor’s office or, for instance, in a nursing home.

Vaccinations are free and not compulsory. So, when can you expect to get your letter or email inviting you to bare arms? Here’s the official schedule so far.

From January 6:

Staff working in (small scale) residential homes Staff working in disabled care District nurses and other home support staff Acute (COVID) care hospital and ambulance staff

From January 18:

Residents in care homes and people with mental disabilities (Pfizer/BioNTech)

From January 25:

People who live in (small scale) residential homes and care homes for the disabled. (Moderna) People aged 90 and over living at home and who are mobile. (Pfizer/BioNTech) Family doctors (Moderna)

From February 1:

People aged between 85 and 90 living at home and who are mobile. (Pfizer/BioNTech)

From February 15:

Psychiatric patients in residential care. (Moderna) People aged 60 plus who are housebound. (Moderna) People between 18 and 60 with a medical indication. (AstraZeneca) People from age 60 living at home and who are mobile (Pfizer/BioNTech)

From May:

Everyone between 18 and 60 without medical indications. (AstraZeneca) Young children and teens up to 18 will not be vaccinated because not all vaccines have been tested for this age group. Pfizer/BioNTech is the only vaccine that is suitable for people from 16 and upwards. Research is underway to determine if a safe vaccine for children can be developed.

Source: Rijksoverheid

More information from Please note this has not been updated to reflect the decision to speed up the vaccination programme be extending the gap between the first and second doses.


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