Soualiga News 3

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Over a tonne of fireworks is handed in ahead of New Year celebrations

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Well over a tonne of fireworks have been handed in to officials in the big Dutch cities ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations, according to broadcaster NOS.

In The Hague over 600 kilos of fireworks were collected on the last two days of the campaign, while in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam the total haul was just under 600 kilos, NOS said.

Ministers decided last month to ban all but the least powerful fireworks, such as sparklers, during the New Year festivities in an effort to encourage people to stay home. Many smaller local authorities organised their own collection points as well.

In Breda, for example, firework fans handed in almost 250 kilos to officials.



Defence ministry personnel drafted in to help in nursing homes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Defence ministry staff are being drafted in to help in nursing and care homes in Groningen, Twente and parts of Gelderland because of the shortage of workers, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has confirmed.

Around 1,000 defence ministry personnel are on standby to help out nationwide and will be available until at least February, Grapperhaus told broadcaster NOS. The defence ministry is providing a wide range of staff, from doctors and nurses to ward orderlies and admin workers.

Groningen and Twente’s regional safety board’s made an urgent appeal for extra help on Monday, saying their care home services are at breaking point.

Nursing homes have been hit by absenteeism rates of up to 10% because of coronavirus and some have said residents will have to go without regular services such as showers because of the shortage of staff.

The decision to bring in the military was made at Monday’s regular meeting of the 25 regional public safety boards.



Level of staff training is one factor in nursing home Covid death rate: Van Dissel

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch chief virologist Jaap van Dissel has come under fire for saying in an interview that the high number of deaths in nursing homes during the first coronavirus wave was partly down to the level of staff training.

In the interview, on public broadcaster NOS, Van Dissel was asked what had gone wrong in care homes, where thousands died and where protective clothing was virtually unobtainable.

‘We have learned that a lot of factors are at play. They include the level of training of the care workers, the situation in the home,’ Van Dissel said. ‘It is more complex than one single measure, no matter how much one would like that to be the case.’

Over 10,000 people died of coronavirus in the Netherlands during the first wave, and around 60% of the victims were living in long-term care homes, either because they were very elderly, had chronic health conditions or were disabled.

Nursing organisations have reacted angrily to the RIVM chief’s comments. The suggestion that infections were down to the level of training of front-line staff is inappropriate and shows a lack of respect,’ said Marita de Kleijne, chairwoman of care workers organisation V&VN.

‘This is a smack in the face of all the colleagues who have been there day and night and under heavy pressure for their vulnerable residents,’ she said. Care staff, she said, were running major risks because of the lack of PPE.

In addition, De Kleijne referred to, ‘the unsafe and unrealistic RIVM guidelines for the use of protective equipment and facemasks, and the waving away our concerns about asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infections. We have not heard Van Dissel comment on that.’


Protective gear was not recommended for use in nursing homes until July and was not made a requirement for all contact with residents in nursing homes until September.

The delay is said by some to be partly down to the shortage of medical face masks in particular. During the interview Van Dissel said he did not know if things should have been done differently.

‘What we have done, continuously, is try to make an honest assessment of the risks,’ he said. The RIVM has since said that the statement about training was not meant as an attack on care staff.

There are some 2,500 nursing homes in the Netherlands and at the height of the pandemic in April, 900 of them were dealing with coronavirus cases.



Government of Sint Maarten presents its ‘Civil Servants Christmas Special’

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs invites families and friends at home and abroad to share in the Christmas messages brought to you by the Government of Sint Maarten civil servants. The virtual “Civil Servants Christmas Special” will be available for viewing on December 24th, at 9:00 am and rebroadcasted on Christmas Day via the Department of Communication (DCOMM) media outlets (SXMGOV Facebook & YouTube) and via Sint Maarten Cable TV Channel 115 on Thursday, December 24 and Friday, December 25 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

In this time of COVID-19, and in the remnants of the echoing after effects and continued building back period after Hurricanes Irma, and Maria, citizens of our friendly island have faced many challenges. Acknowledging those challenges that we have faced and still have to endure, a cross section of employees within the Government of Sint Maarten have come together to share with you holiday cheer, the spirit of goodwill and great tidings for the Christmas season.

“I invite the public of Sint Maarten to sit back and partake in this joyous and festive Christmas video presentation by our Civil Servants, notwithstanding the difficult year we have all endured. I have participated in the program and I must say it was a wonderful experience to share in the spirit of Christmas,” stated Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.

The “Civil Servants Christmas Special” is a virtual Christmas wish coming from the hearts of the civil servants wishing everyone season’s greetings, expressed through their various talents and gifts of voice, dance, spoken-word, and storytelling. The Virtual “Civil Servants Christmas Special” also features the 2020 Christmas Message of Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.


Joshua Bell of the Ministry of General Affairs performing a song.



Changes to BES health insurance as of 2021

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - Effective from the 1st of January 2021, the Healthcare Insurance Claims Regulation BES will be amended. Several new allowances are implemented, and some are adjusted. The compensation of partial dental prostheses and Covid-19 restorative care are new.

Partial dental prostheses

As of the 1st of January 2021, partial dentures for the teeth will be compensated. It regards prostheses that replace missing molars or teeth. Those prostheses must be removable. Therefore, it does not concern bridges or crowns. This is an extension of the regulation, because so far only full dentures were reimbursed.

Restorative care Covid-19

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, health insurance has been expanded to include restorative care. This care is intended for people who have experienced a serious Covid infection. They will be compensated for care if they are referred by a general practitioner or specialist and are able to submit a positive test result to the medical advice team of Care and Youth Caribbean Netherlands. These Covid patients are entitled to:

a maximum of 50 physiotherapy or remedial therapy treatments;

10 hours of ergotherapy;

7 hours of informative sessions about nutrition and eating habits with a medical purpose.

There is a maximum of six months. If necessary, a request for extension can be submitted to the medical advice team. Such an extension is for a maximum of 6 months. This also applies to people who have already experienced a serious Covid-19 infection in 2020.

COPD exercise therapy

Exercise therapy for people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) will be possible for more COPD patients as of the 1st of January 2021. The general practitioner is able to elaborate on the exact terms and conditions.

For more information about the amendment to the Healthcare Insurance Claims Regulations 2021, please click on the link below:

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


The Netherlands lifts ban on travel from UK, requires negative Covid test result instead

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands has lifted its blanket ban on travellers from Britain and South Africa and replaced it with the requirement they provide a negative coronavirus test result from December 23.

This means that at the start of their trip, all passengers over the age of 12 – including EU nationals – must have a printed document showing they have had a recent, negative PCR test.

Once they arrive in the Netherlands, all passengers are strongly urged to quarantine for a period of 10 days. Travellers will have to present the test result, which must be no older than 72 hours, when they board an airplane in South Africa or either a boat or airplane in the UK heading for the Netherlands.

‘Anyone who does not have a negative test declaration will be denied boarding. This also applies to Dutch and EU citizens returning from the United Kingdom or South Africa,’ the government said in a statement.

‘In addition, the government has decided to introduce a further requirement as soon as possible which will make the negative PCR test declaration mandatory for all passengers – including Dutch and EU nationals – entering the Netherlands from abroad.’ No date for that has yet been set.

The rule requiring passengers to submit a negative test declaration before the start of their trip has been in effect since December 15 for people living outside the EU and was due to expanded to include Britain from January 1.

Don’t travel

The government has also reiterated that people should not travel abroad at all unless strictly necessary. The ban on travel from Britain was imposed on Sunday, stranding hundreds of people, including many students, who were trying to get to the Netherlands for Christmas.

The Netherlands introduced the measure in an effort to keep out a new strain of coronavirus which is said to be more contagious and which is rampant in Britain. The ban spread quickly to most other EU countries, causing chaos at French and English ports, and leading the European Commission on Tuesday to urge member states to rethink.



Buncamper: We must recognize and appreciate that we are resilient people

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Sunday, December 20, 2020, Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Bucamper, USP Faction Leader, Parliament of Sint Maarten, released his 2020 Christmas Message.

“Fellow citizens of St. Maarten, as the Christmas holidays draw near, I am certain that many of you, like myself, may be in full preparations for the season. The Christmas season is a time that we all look forward to. But this year’s merriments may be somewhat dampened due to the COVID 19 global pandemic as we are confined to some restricted social policies and to many also economic hardship.

“During this past year we have been through some trying times like we have never seen before, and we have not yet seen the end of it. We have had to adjust some of our normal ways of living and our customs of doing things. It is at times like these that we must take a moment to reflect on the past and yet count our blessings.

“Yes, times are challenging for many of us, our families, our friends and our fellow citizens. Despite the challenges that we face, we must recognize and appreciate that we are resilient people and we still have much to be thankful for. Let us not focus on the things we don’t have, instead, let us be grateful for the things we do have. Let us not burden ourselves with worries, frustrations and negative thoughts, but lighten up our hearts with a positive state of mind of cheerfulness, contentment and success. Take comfort in the facts that we have the morning sun rising on us, oxygen in the air that we breathe, friends to comfort us, and loved ones who care for us. Above all, we have God who hears and answers our prayers.

“I call on every citizen to celebrate responsibly during the holidays. Do not drink and drive, the life you save may be your own. Eat and drink in moderation, your health is your responsibility. While congregating and socializing at home during the family lunch, or around the Christmas tree opening gifts, or at church praising the Lord, or at a festive activity releasing stress, please remember to adhere to the policies in place to counteract the spreading of the Corona Virus.

“Our culture dictates that the Christmas season is a time when families and friends get together to celebrate and exchange gifts. Unfortunately, such gathering may be restricted and is not encouraged this Christmas season. But thankfully, technology provides the alternative for family members, here and abroad, to communicate and share that moment of togetherness with their loved ones. The gift of kindness to mankind does not cost you anything so I ask of you to be kind to all and share your love plentiful without reservations. I encourage everyone who has enough, to share with those that have less or nothing now and in the future when needed. Love to mankind should not have any boundaries.

“On behalf of my USP family and myself, I take this opportunity to extend best wishes for good health, joy and happiness to you and your family during this festive season. Be safe and may the good Lord be with you and spread His protective arms over you and your loved ones.”


Holiday Safety: Shop Smart, Shop Safe this Holiday Season

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The 2020 holiday season is here, but it’s going to be a totally different experience under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), as part of its annual calendar of observances, highlights and creates awareness about safe holiday experiences for the entire family.

Mask should be worn over your nose and mouth and should be properly secured under your chin. The wearing of mask is extremely important as it offers some protection to you and are also meant to protect those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the virus that COVID-19.

Maintaining a safe distance of two meters (six feet) from others especially persons who are at a higher risk of getting very sick; wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol content; cover coughs and sneezes, and wash or clean your hands after every episode.  

One of the key points this holiday season should be to make sure that whatever gift you buy for a child this year’s holiday season, make sure that it's safe – Shop Smart, Shop Safe. Check the safety information of toys before you purchase them.

Before purchasing or giving any gift, particularly any intended for a child, double check to make sure the gifts does not pose a hazard or put the child at risk of danger. Carefully read the safety instructions and conditions attached to the gift and ensure that it is for the correct age group.

Here are some safety tips for holiday season shopping: select toys suitable for a child's age, abilities, skills and interest level; for infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard.

Avoid toys with sharp edges and points, especially for children under age eight; do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age eight; read the labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide in your holiday shopping.

Magnets — For children under age six, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

Small Parts — For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

Ride-on Toys — Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should always be sized to fit and worn when operating the aforementioned. Help instil safety discipline.

Projectile Toys — Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.

Chargers and Adapters — Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

One of the most important gifts of all to give a child is time spent with you as a parent/guardian this holiday season. As we prepare to celebrate the holidays during this pandemic, let us be mindful and stay close to home with immediate family and limit interactions in small social/family bubbles. As virtual celebrations become a new way of life, let us collectively work on ensuring a safe and healthy society as 2020 comes to an end.

Shop Smart, Shop in a Safe and Healthy manner observing all preventive measures including COVID-19. Let us together celebrate the holidays safely and protecting others.


Worldwide association of SERs will gather virtually in corona year Board meeting AICESIS 2020

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) - The global association of economic and social advisory councils and similar institutions AICESIS will meet virtually on Thursday, December 17, 2020, for its annual board meeting. During this meeting, in which SER Curaçao will participate as board member, the latest developments regarding the activities of AICESIS will be discussed as well as the prospects and activities for the new year.

Among other things, AICESIS' financial report and activity report for 2019 will be reviewed, as well as the added value of the cooperation with the International Labour Organization ILO and the United Nations Economic and Social Council ECOSOC. The board members will also have the opportunity to briefly elaborate on how the regions they represent deal with the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The last board meeting took place in March 2019 in Curaçao where delegates from eighteen countries met in the conference room of the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino. The AICESIS board meeting 2019 was followed by a workshop on digital revolution.

More information can be found on the website of SER Curaçao under the heading 'Actueel/Conferenties ( SER Curaçao has been an active member of the board on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean region since 2017.

SER Curaçao also fulfils the role of acting Secretary-General of AICESIS for the region. More information about the tasks and activities of AICESIS can be found at


First coronavirus wave had major impact on healthcare; 50,000 healthy years of living were lost

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The first wave of coronavirus in the Netherlands and the impact on regular healthcare has led to the loss of 50,000 years of healthy living, the public health institute RIVM said on Tuesday.

‘Many patients faced delayed appointments and treatment and some patients cancelled their appointments because they were worried about becoming infected or did not want to be a burden on the healthcare system,’ the RIVM said.

The knock-on effect of this has been to reduce some people’s life expectancy and to damage the quality of life enjoyed by others. In total, at least 50,000 good years have been lost, with most down to the impact on quality of life, the RIVM said.

Earlier this month the Dutch pathologist’s association NVVP said there was an ‘alarming’ drop in the number of diagnoses for serious diseases during the pandemic. In total, 10% to 15% fewer cases of serious disease have been identified than in recent years and adults and children are equally affected.

In particular, pathologists report a 25% drop in the number of people taking part in population-based screenings for cervical, colon and breast cancer.


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