PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The continuous issues with cruise ships and the possible spreading of the Covid-19 (also called the Corona virus) due to the many factors of incubation and the lifespan of the virus in the atmosphere has raised some serious concerns by many persons in the community among them is United St. Maarten Party Member of Parliament Claudius Buncamper.
The MP has written to incumbent Prime Minister Silveria Jacob’s expressing his concerns and posing a number of questions. He wrote: “As a representative of the people, I myself am becoming seriously concerned with the manner how cruise ships in particular which are refused in other ports are allowed to be docked in St. Maarten.
“While I understand the economic aspect of the matter, we need not lose the serious implications that can follow with a possible outbreak on the island. Such will harm the island much more than refusing a few cruise ships where the possibilities of the COVID-19 virus are very possible. The activation of EOC on March 1st 2020 and by such taking the responsibility directly by the chair of the EOC away from the health experts, one must believe that the treats are quite serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he said.
The state of California refused a ship with some 3500 cruisers entry in the port of San Francisco because of the fear of the COVID-19 virus. Persons whom had already cruised on the same ship 2 weeks prior have been diagnosed with the virus 10 days after disembarking from the ship. “This needs to be seem as a very serious warning signal to all involved in the industry. Because we lack any on island ability presently to do any testing it makes the issue all the more difficult to handle and makes decision making a very risky something,” said MP Buncamper.
The MP’s questions are as follows:
2. What protocols are the other countries applying that we aren’t applying as it cannot be that countries like St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Santo Domingo all have inadequate regulations blocking the various cruise ships?
3. Are the decisions to accept the cruise ships taken by the EOC in the past and presently or by ministers with advice of their ministries? If yes which ministers and ministries were consulted and involved in the decision to allow the ship entry into port SXM?
4. Was the FCCA consulted regarding these decision and if so what did they advise?
5. Seeing that the virus carries a longer than anticipated lifespan ion the atmosphere will the used tour busses be disinfected thoroughly based on a protocol?
6. Has this been discussed with the FCCA and the cruise companies frequenting SXM so tomorrow we aren’t confronted with tour companies not being allowed to be used because of fear for possible infections? If so, when did these discussions take place and who was involved?
7. How many passengers were on board when the various ships docked at our cruise facility?
8. How many of these passengers disembarked at the AC Weather cruise facility?
9. How many employees of the Harbor were exposed to passengers disembarking the ship?
10. What, if any, measures were taken to protect said employees against possible exposure to the novel Coronavirus? Please specify in detail so the general public understands this.
11. Did the passengers clear immigration at the cruise facility? If so, how many immigration officers were involved? What, if any, protective measures were taken to protect said officers?
12. Are any special measures or protocols in place for the emergency personnel of the country seeing they are always involved in these types of medical situations?
13. Has any area been prepared to house persons that need to be quarantined other than the hospital or their home. Specifically if we are dealing with cruise passengers seeing the limited beds we have at the hospital?
He added, “With regards to the arriving passengers I understand that much onus is placed on the fact that majority of the passengers come from larger airports where we are banking on the checks been done there. Please note that St. Maarten functions as a hub for the Eastern Caribbean making us much more susceptible to having unchecked passengers from non-large cities pass through our airport. In this regard are we planning to carry out any proactive screening on maybe these passengers of the commuter airlines at least?
“I believe that PJIAE should have already put a screening process in place with the necessary equipment. St. Maarten cannot afford to lose any market share in the tourism world due to our own procrastination of doing the right thing to ensure we protect our people and by extension our destination,” MP Buncamper said.
He noted in his letter that he wants a prompt response from PM Jacobs.
PHILIPSBURG – Economies across the world have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and St. Maarten is no exception. The necessary measures of closing the borders in order to control the spread of the virus has resulted in a...