SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – People of St. Maarten, I hereby address you, as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC (Emergency Operations Center), in an update for today Tuesday, March 17, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, mitigation and response measures.
After yesterday’s EOC meetings, the decision was taken to close schools from tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18th for an initial period of 2 weeks. The decision was also taken to shutdown non-essential services to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The relevant stakeholders were given time today to sit with the stakeholders, to plan how this would be executed. This will go into effect as of tomorrow Wednesday March 18th, 2020 as of 12:00 AM for 2 weeks/14 days. As you may well be aware, this decision has been making its rounds via social media, and as in the past, I felt it necessary to ensure that the public is duly and officially informed of all updates.
I will also take this opportunity, to inform you that as of this morning, St. Maarten has recorded its first positive COVID-19 case. Recently, a male resident of St. Maarten travelled to the UK via Miami. Upon his return, he called 914 and after being monitored for few days, samples were taken and tested by our contact lab in Guadeloupe. A second confirmatory test will be carried out by RIVM in order for the positive case to be officially confirmed. This sample is one of 5 that were being monitored by CPS. All other samples (4) tested negative.
The resident has been in quarantine and CPS confirms that he is self-isolating properly. CPS has already started contact tracing. More information will be provided as it develops.
The new travel restrictions will also go into effect as of today Tuesday March 17th, 2020 at 11.59 PM and are as follows:
Passengers are not allowed to enter St. Maarten.
-This does not apply to residents of St. Maarten. They must hold a proof of residence, which can be a St. Maarten driving license, St. Maarten ID card or a St. Maarten registration document.
– This does NOT apply to airline crew.
– Residents of St. Maarten must undergo a mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days.
– Airline crew that are overnighting must undergo a mandatory self-quarantine while on the island
– Essential Flights from Saba, Sint Eustatius and Curacao are allowed
– Medical emergency flights are allowed
This does not apply to passengers who are traveling to St. Maarten at the invitation of the Government of St. Maarten as technical or medical -specialists and -assistants.
All residents of St. Maarten and crew members arriving on St. Maarten are required to mandatory self-isolate for 14 days and will be monitored by the department of Public Health.
Air and seafaring cargo travel will NOT be affected as has been stated repeatedly before. As such food and goods will continue to arrive on St. Maarten.
Therefore, the general public is encouraged to remain calm, stay faithful and continue to practice safe and proper hygiene in order to avoid the spread of this virus. Let us learn from our larger global counterparts around the world as we aim to contain the spread of this virus.
Social Distancing is being strongly promoted. Government also strongly recommends that persons should avoid gathering in groups where they are unable to keep a distance of at least one meter from each other. All institutions, businesses, organizations, religious services and other entities should adhere to these recommended advices in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Ministerial regulation to ensure that this is enforceable is being finalized.
At this time, we continue to engage all relevant stakeholders and various meetings are scheduled with stakeholders both internationally and regional in order to keep the lines of communication open and to coordinate necessary steps to continue to prepare, prevent and respond to this International Health Crisis. The various ESF coordinators are constantly offering updates and are being monitored by the EOC. A press conference including relevant ESF coordinators will be held later this afternoon at 7 pm in order to update the public further on the details of the government’s response to COVID-19 with the recent developments.
Follow our Government Radio station – 107.9FM. For official information, statements and news updates or visit the Government website at www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus and our Facebook Page: Government of Sint Maarten.
As Prime Minister of St. Maarten, I wish to encourage all of us to remain steadfast and continue to practice proper hygiene and prepare for what is a world-wide pandemic. While we currently have our first confirmed case, all measures over the past few weeks and today have also been aimed at containing the COVID-19 virus.
Knowledge is power! Stay informed and be prepared. We are strong, resilient and faithful people and trust that this too shall pass.
God bless St. Maarten and her people as we work together; government and community to keep her safe. Thank you.