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Coronavirus infections appear to be stabilising, RIVM says

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of positive coronavirus tests in the Netherlands was unchanged over the last week when compared with the previous seven days, public health institute RIVM said in its latest weekly round-up on Tuesday.

In total, 155,000 positive tests were registered in the week up to Tuesday morning, compared with 154,000 in the previous week. Some 30,000 more people were tested.

The RIVM said it would appear that the infection rate is now stabilising, a consequence of the limited measures taken to reduce the spread of the virus in mid-November.

Last week, the number of positive tests was up 39%. Although there is pressure on the testing centres and people are having to wait before they can book a test in some places, the actual infection rate does seem to be coming down, the RIVM said.

The key R ratio was 1.05 on November 15, compared with 1.21 a week before which means carriers are infecting fewer people. The figure can only be calculated accurately with a two-week time lag.

The RIVM also said 21.4% of tests are proving positive, compared with 22.2% last week, another indication that the spread may be slowing. Children

Children

remain the biggest group to catch coronavirus. Youngsters aged five to 14 accounted for nearly 27% of all positive tests last week but the infection rate among older people is stabilising.

Southern parts of Limburg still have the highest number of positive cases per head of the population, followed by Zeeland and Limburg Noord.

Hospitals

The RIVM said it expects it will still be one or two weeks before the impact of reduction in positive tests is felt in hospital admissions, although hospital admissions too are slowing.

Last week, there was an 2% rise in hospital admissions and 22% increase in the number of IC patients being taken to hospital, according to figures from the NICE foundation.

There are now 2,845 people with coronavirus in hospital, of whom 595 are being treated in intensive care. At the height of the second wave, 841 people were being looked after in an intensive care ward.

Dutch healthcare institute NZa said on Tuesday that one in three Dutch hospitals have now called off all non-essential operations and almost all have stopped routine procedures such as knee and hip operations.

A further 24 hospitals now say that some critical care, such as heart operations and cancer treatments, are being delayed.

(DutchNews)

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Dutch start trials of flexible floating solar panels which move with the waves

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A consortium led by Dutch research institute TNO has launched a new project to study floating flexible solar energy systems as part a project to create economically viable offshore solar farms.

The flexible floating units have been installed in the Oostvoornse Meer lake, near the Maasvlakte industrial area.

The pilot, which will run until summer 2022, will look at the energy yield, the behaviour of the floating units when faced by waves and strong winds, the growth of organic material such as algae, and if they are viable economically.

‘Solar power at sea… does not yet actually exist,’ said TNO research and project manager Wim Soppe. ‘It is technically very challenging to install large floating systems with solar panels at sea and keep them operational for decades.’

One problem is the cost of the material used for heavy, rigid floats. The new concept, says Soppe, ‘requires a lot less material and we therefore have high hopes that it will turn out to be a lot cheaper.’

The trial consists of two floats measuring seven metres by 13 metres and topped by 20 kWp of solar panels. Both the solar panels and the floats are made of a flexible material developed by the consortium.

This means the floats and panels bend with the movement of the waves and offer less resistance. After completing this project, the next step is to build and install a trial system on the North Sea, TNO says.

After that, the team hope that by 2024 they can build a commercial system linked to one of the wind farms already producing electricity offshore and filling the space between the turbines.

The research is part of a government backed project to develop solar power on water.

(DutchNews)

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Covid hospital cases pass April peak but infection rate slowing down

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of coronavirus patients in hospital has passed the peak of last April, with 2,772 people receiving treatment, according to the latest figures from the RIVM.

The last time the figure was so high was January 7, two days after the post-Christmas peak of 2,890. There are currently 563 people being treated in intensive care, 12 more than on Sunday.

The RIVM also reported another 33 deaths, against a seven-day average of 51. Another 21,552 positive tests were recorded on Monday, 6.5% lower than the number last Monday.

The percentage of positive tests was marginally down at 21.7%. It is only the second time since the end of September that the number of positive tests has declined week-on-week. In the last seven days cases have increased by 3.5%, compared to 52% a week ago.

(DutchNews)

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New cases of coronavirus top 22,000 again, hospital admissions rise

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A total of 22,089 new cases of coronavirus were reported to public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, the fifth day in a row that the number of infections has been around the 22,000 mark.

On average, 22,294 new cases have been reported a day over the past week, a rise of 13% on the previous week, the RIVM said. Just over one in five people testing for the virus are getting a positive result.

Although the coronavirus infection rate may be levelling off, more people are being hospitalised. In the past 24 hours, 354 people were admitted to hospital, increasing total patient numbers by 26.

Taking patients who have been sent home into account, there are now 2,624 people being treated for coronavirus in hospital, of whom 555 are in an intensive care ward.

(DutchNews)

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There will be no coalition deal by December 5, says Rutte

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The four parties currently negotiating to extend the current coalition government will not reach a deal by December 5 as hoped, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Saturday, during the VVD annual conference.

Nevertheless, there is still hope that the negotiators may reach an agreement by Christmas, Rutte said. The right wing liberal VVD, liberal democratic party D66, the Christian Democrats and minor Christian party ChristenUnie have been in talks for the past two months, and the general election took place in March.

Rutte said he did not consider it odd that it was taking so long to form the next government. It took six months for the current coalition to agree to work together again, he said.

So, it ‘not crazy’ that they have been writing a coalition agreement for six to eight weeks. The outgoing cabinet’s focus was on the economy, he said. Now the economy is in good shape, it is time to solve the problems with public safety, the climate and education.

‘There is money for it,’ he said, ‘but I can’t guarantee it will all happen.’

(DutchNews)

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The Netherlands halts flights from southern Africa amid new variant fears

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands has brought in a ban on flights landing from southern Africa in an effort to keep out a new, potentially more harmful, variant of coronavirus.

The ban comes into effect from midday, ministers decided on Friday morning. In addition, the southern African countries will be added to the list of countries considered to be ‘very high risk’, which means people will have to go into quarantine and have two negative coronavirus tests.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge said the new variant has not yet been identified in the Netherlands. ‘But we have seen how fast other variants take hold, so we have to do the maximum to keep it out,’ he told reporters. He said there are still many uncertainties about the new variant.

‘What we are doing is taking precautions,’ he added. The new variant, known as B.1.1.529, already has a hold in South Africa and cases have been found in Botswana and, via a traveller, in Hong Kong.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said Brussels will propose ‘activating the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region’ in close consultation with member states.

WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is also meeting to determine if B.1.1.529 variant warrants a designation as one of ‘interest’ or of ‘concern’. The variant was identified on Tuesday and stands out because it carries an ‘extremely high number’ of mutations.

‘The concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves,’ the WHO’s expert Maria van Kerkhove said.

Passengers

Some 600 people on board two plans from South Africa which arrived at Schiphol airport this morning have all been given a PCR test for coronavirus and must stay at the airport until they have their results.

As yet is is unclear if the passengers then have to go into quarantine, broadcaster NOS reported.

(DutchNews)

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LU hosts successful health fair

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Learning Unlimited hosted a successful health fair on Tuesday, November 23 to afford its students the opportunity to engage and learn from various health care professionals.

The fair was part of the school’s “Health Week” and its efforts to show the students how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Various health care professionals took part in the fair and came prepared with hand-on tools so that the students would have a good impression of what their respective professions entails.

In attendance were Nutritionist Swinda Richardson, Integrative Health Coach Nolan Nantom, Eye Specialist Benny Oosterhof, Medical Doctor Dr. Sonia Swanston, Esther Halley of the Red Cross, Dr. Ullal from AUC (American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine), Nurse Sheldon Simpson, Cylred Richardson & Staff from the Ambulance Department and Dentist Leonie Bryson.

Each of the aforementioned specialists and health/medical professionals had a designated space in the school’s gymnasium to address the students and give demonstrations. Minister of Health Omar Ottley was also in attendance to open the event with a short speech.  

LU’s management and staff extended thanks to the Minister, specialists and health/medical professionals for taking the time to contribute to Health Week and simultaneously educating the students.

LU CPR healthf

LU checking eyes healthf

 

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Grounded in St. Martin, SOS: Season of Storms presented to Philipsburg Jubilee Library

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The poetry book, SOS: Season of Storms by Fabian Badejo, is now available at Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL), said Jacqueline Sample of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

Badejo presented the book here recently to PJL director Glenderlin Holiday. “We very much appreciate the gesture,” said Holiday. She pointed out that it is library policy to house and promote works by the island’s authors.

“It is an honor for me to have this book in the library, which has gone through its own storms like most of us did in Irma and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic,” said Badejo.

While the journalist in Badejo does not leave out stormy events in other parts of the world, SOS focusses on intense natural and man-made storms that the St. Martin people and the land itself have been going through since hurricane Irma.

“In most of this collection, Badejo uses details, rather than the vernacular of the island, to ground his poems in St. Martin,” said researcher and author Mark Yokoyama in the introduction to the book. 

SOS: Season of Storms is available at Van Dorp and Arnia’s bookstores, the African Market on Frontstreet (across from Oranje School), SOS Radio in Marigot, Amazon, and SPDbooks.org. 

nhp seasons of storms book cover

 

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“Living Museum” connects St. Martin history, culture at Sr. Regina Primary School

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Sr. Regina Primary School pupil Marley-Bo Deekman (R, top pic) was the representation of St. Martin writer Lasana Sekou (L), at the school’s 6th annual “Living Museum.”

“It was an honor to meet and hear Miss Marley-Bo; she’s clearly bright and brave. I wish her well with her schooling, for herself, her family, and for our St. Martin future,” said Sekou.

An author of over 20 books, Sekou was invited by the school to tour the living museum (11.10.21), which is part of Sr. Regina Primary School’s St. Martin Day program.

Earlier in the year, students are assigned historical and contemporary personalities, flora, fauna, and places to study for the exhibit, according to teacher Candace Huijgen.

Students use books and other media for information about who or what they are assigned to take on the appearance of and talk about. Students may dress the part on the day of the museum.

In 2021, politicians Sarah Wescott-Williams and Claude Wathey made the list to be impersonated by students. Pan musician Mighty Dow, Dutch colonial officer Peter Stuyvesant, and the Brown Pelican were also represented among the 24 exhibits.

Books by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP), such as National Symbols of St. Martin (bit.ly/3CSHUan) and Claude – A Portrait of Power were some of the sources used to gather information.

“The children were so excited about listening to their classmates” (pic L, clockwise), talking about people connected to St. Martin history and culture, “that impressed me,” said HNP admin secretary Beverly Wilson.

“It’s also exciting to see Sr. Regina Primary School and Teacher Candace use such creative and scholastic-based ways to teach about St. Martin,” said Sekou, who was accompanied by Wilson.

“I’m thankful to the parents of Marley-Bo for being part of this live educational activity,” said Sekou, who is also projects director at HNP.

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More arrests in fourth night of disturbances after Rotterdam riots

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police arrested over 30 people in a fourth night of disturbances on Monday night, but there was no trouble in the big cities.

Police arrested 13 people in Zwolle, after the mayor invoked his emergency powers because of rumours that riots were being planned. The arrests were mainly for possessing fireworks and being unable to show ID, local broadcaster RTV Oost reported.

In the Frisian town of Drachten, police were also out in force following reports that trouble was being planned, but the evening passed off quietly.

In Roosendaal, 14 people were arrested for setting several fires, including a bus stop and in a playground. Most were aged 14 to 26 but a 51-year-old woman was among the arrestees, news website Nu.nl reported.

Several dozen youths in Apeldoorn vandalised a roundabout and threw fireworks at police, but it is unclear if any were arrested. Rotterdam It is the fourth night in a row that police were called out to deal with groups of youngsters, following Friday’s riots in Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, the four people who were shot by police in Rotterdam are not in any danger, mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told a television talk show on Monday evening.

Aboutaleb earlier described the riots as an ‘orgy of violence’ and said some of those involved had come to the city with the express purpose of causing trouble.

(DutchNews)

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