Published On: Mon, Dec 22nd, 2014

Tourist sector suffers from Chikunkunya

Izzy GerstenbluthWILLEMSTAD - The tourism industry in Curacao is shocked by the news in the Netherlands about Chikunkunya on the island.

According to Liza Dindial, president of Curacao Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHATA), the term 'Killermug' which was used in the Dutch newspaper 'De Telegraaf' is very damaging. Dozens of tourists have canceled their trip and will not be spending Christmas in Curacao.

During a press conference of the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB) and ChATA, the chief epidemiologist of the Public Health Service, Izzy Gerstenbluth was asked to give a more precise explanation, hoping to make the tourists comfortable. He had brought earlier figures out that he's taken on a life of its own. These numbers did not correspond with the actual problem of Chikunkunya on the island.

The epidemiologist had mentioned the number 75,000 for possible Chikungunya cases by next year. Gerstenbluth said that he should not have mentioned that number. It was calculated by extrapolation of random numbers by general practitioners and was an indication of a worst case scenario. “But people read very differently,” said Gerstenbluth. “The figure of 20,000, which I have mentioned before, is not a hard number, but an estimate based on calculations. Moreover, it comes to people who were counted from the start of the epidemic in July. Many of them are now just better and meanwhile immune for Chikunkunya.”

The Dutch tourist does not have to be worried. The epidemic has apparently diminished. This is mainly due to awareness. “Everyone knows someone in his or her family that has Chikunkunya. People smear themselves in, they clean and sprayed around,” said Gerstenbluth. The combination may be the cause of the decline in the number of new cases, says the epidemiologist. “But don’t cry hallelujah yet, it's still very high!”

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