Aruba as most other countries, follow the recommendations of the “International Health Regulations” (IHR).
“International Health Regulations” (IHR) are legally binding instruments of International law. This treaty has by signed by The Netherlands and they are responsible for its implementation. As part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba is compromised with the regulations but the Netherlands has the obligation to assists Aruba to comply.
The Crisis Management Team (Bureau Rampenbestrijding) of Aruba has no obligations with the International Health Regulations. This is more on a level of the Ministry of Public Health and specifically the Department of Public Health (DVG), that assigns a sub-focal point specifically for this issue.
It is not the first encounter of the Department of Public Health with an outbreak. It is not the first nor the last outbreak, and it is for this reason they are constantly updated with relevant training in order to handle each situation as efficiently as possible. The DVG has many plans ready, each applies for the different types of outbreaks and transmission characteristics. One of the plans that can and has been adapted is the one to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 virus (2019-nCoV).
Family practitioners have all updated with the EPI-Info; the latest updates for everyone in the medical field about the ongoing situation and what they need to know in order to assist in these cases. It is important to have all stakeholders on the same page.
The Department of Public Health has all the information available about this virus. In 2009 they underwent training to be able to handle the H1N1 flu pandemic and dealt with the situation onboard the Ocean Dream cruise ship and other local outbreaks accordingly. They also receive training and updates from the PAHO on how to handle among others, respiratory outbreaks. They receive assistance from the RIVM, PAHO, and CARPHA if deemed necessary. They have daily communications by phone, teleconference calls or email exchange for updates and additional information. The assigned team of the Department of Public Health consists of 15 professionals. Depending on the scenario, the personnel of the Horacio Oduber hospital and the ImSan and ambulance are immediately available.
The Hospital and ImSan are well prepared and have designated rooms to treat suspected Covid-19 patients including drawing blood for tests. It is important for the community to be well informed with accurate information.
The COVID-19 hotline is 5922009 or 5930917 and is available every day for 24 hours. If you have symptoms like headache, high fever and shortness of breath/respiratory issues, please contact your family physician by phone and provide requested information including travel history.
Swab samples will be taken from the throat and nose from suspected persons and will be collected by professionals. Should there be a need for testing, this will be done in the designated room at the emergency department since it is limited to other patients and can be disinfected easily. The swab sample will be sent immediately to the lab for further testing.
Aruba is getting ready according to the agreed rules and procedures and hereby has a few options available for eventual quarantine cases. Cases are handled at a pandemic level, meaning the level of management will be optimal. In an eventual case, it will be dealt with in an integral order, on a national level where the structure defined by the Disaster Management Team will come into effect with the consent of the Prime Minister. The Hospital has 42 rooms available for possible isolation of patients and can be expanded if needed. Obviously, the Corona Virus can have a negative impact on our tourism sector. That is the reason the Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) is involved as part of the 8 clusters within the structure of the Crisis Management Team.
The clusters are briefed constantly and ATA makes COVID-19 related statements only with the approval of the Department of Public Health and shares these with their local and international partners.
The Minister of Tourism, Public Health and Sport will keep the community informed about the Corona Virus developments in Aruba.