PHILIPSBURG-Minister of Health Emil Lee said there are no reports of persons with the Zika virus in St. Maarten. However, he has received reports from within the hospitality sector of persons cancelling their trips to St. Maarten due to the advisories relating to the virus.
“I think the French side has one or two (cases of Zika) and as far as I know these are not cases that were contracted in St. Martin. These are people that I understood contracted from when they traveled abroad to a Zika prone area and then returned feeling ill,” Minister Lee said. However, the Minister was unable to provide exact figures as to the number of persons who may have cancelled their trips, except to say that most of these persons were pregnant women.
“I have heard of a number of cases where people have cancelled their trips to St. Maarten. As far as I can tell they have been mostly women that are currently pregnant that obviously have been advised by their physicians not to travel, and I think that from the hospitality industry, from the airline industry, in those cases they have been refunded money. Cancellation polices have been revised to provide for that,” he explained.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in January issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
There were concerns that Caribbean tourism could be affected by this advisory, but Minister Lee said his main concern is how many persons would have delayed traveling to St. Maarten because of the advisory.
Source: 721 news No reported cases of Zika on (Dutch) St. Maarten