Director-General of the French Regional Health Agency ARS, Valérie Denux talks at a press conference to update on the COVID-19 situation in St. Martin and St. Barths. Looking on are Préfète Déléguée Sylvie Feucher and ARS Territorial Director Brice Daverton. Photo by Robert Luckock.
MARIGOT–Director-General of Regional Health Authority ARS, Valérie Denux told attendees to a press conference Wednesday afternoon that there are currently no indications that any of the passengers on the ferry that travelled between St. Barths and Dutch St. Maarten on February 28 with the couple carrying the COVID-19 virus have been infected.
The same is true for the passengers on the plane to St. Barths when the couple first arrived. Denux said most of the passengers that could be traced from the boarding manifestos of the ferry and plane had been contacted and interviewed.
She said the situation remains the same: two confirmed cases in French St. Martin who showed no symptoms and one in St. Barths. The couple would not have been aware that they were carrying the virus when they visited their son, but it is highly likely the son was infected due to the prolonged close contact, she said.
As many people as possible who were in contact with the couple and the son have been traced. This led to testing of 30 contacts in St. Martin and Guadeloupe and all the tests have been returned negative.
“The virus is not circulating in St. Martin or St. Barths,” she reassured. There are two types of contacts, she explained: the prolonged contact and the brief contact. Even though passengers on the ferry and plane were in a confined space they were sitting in separate seats and not having that close contact such as shaking hands, kissing or touching, that would be associated more with families.
The couple in the St. Martin hospital need to have one more mandatory test to determine if they are virus-free before they can receive a medical certificate to leave the island. The same goes for the son in St. Barths. The hospital has eight isolation rooms available for patients deemed at higher risk from pre-existing conditions. The majority of otherwise healthy persons who become infected are advised to self-isolate at home.
Préfète Déléguée Sylvie Feucher confirmed screening protocols are in place for the SXM Music Festival starting March 11. All attendees have been contacted by mail and asked not to travel to St. Martin if they are coming from any of the countries classified as high risk.
She confirmed more stocks of face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser have been ordered from France. ARS is issuing regular bulletins on the COVID-19 situation.