~ Decision made to further restrict movement ~
PHILIPSBURG–Government, via the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau has made several attempts to use empty hotels for quarantining or isolating persons without success, Prime Minister and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Chairperson Silveria Jacobs said in a national address on Friday evening.
She said however that any hotel willing to work with government in this regard can contact the Tourist Bureau or the Health Department to facilitate this arrangement as soon as possible. “Government continues to explore options to retrofit other buildings to be able to house quarantined as well as isolated persons who are not complying with the self-isolation agreement as has been agreed upon between the patient and CPS (Collective Prevention Services),” Jacobs said.
She said during the EOC meeting on March 27, with Emergency Services Functions (ESFs) four, five, six, and nine the decision was made to increase further restrictions on movement of persons throughout the island via a Ministerial Regulation which is being processed. She stressed that while no curfew yet exists, movement of the population is prohibited. Each and every citizen is asked to stay at home as much as possible to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Persons who have returned to the island since Friday, March 13, were reminded that they are still required to register with CPS by calling 914 or downloading the document provided for such on government’s website at
www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus, fill it in and email to CPS at
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; these persons should be in self-quarantine (no symptoms, but have a travel history).
Persons who have a family member –who has travelled in the past three weeks living in their home–, should also be self-quarantined even if they have no symptoms. Persons who have flu-like symptoms, and no travel history are not automatically considered suspected COVID-19 patients, but should also self-isolate at home (stay away from their family as well) and monitor their symptoms, in case they may have been exposed to someone who has travelled.
Self-isolation refers to the separation of ill patients from other persons to ensure the health safety of persons that are not ill. Self-quarantine is for persons who may have been exposed to ill persons, but are not exhibiting symptoms.
“I would like to reiterate as stated in my previous National Address on March 26, 2020, that our health care professionals and emergency service providers are tirelessly working 24 hours per day. Give them the time and space to do so. As your excessive movement can be a danger to these persons whom we expect to be able to take care of our needs should we become seriously ill,” she said.
“I would also like to address rumours concerning services being offered on behalf of the government. Should government take the initiative to offer services at your home, this will be communicated to you via government’s official media platforms. Be aware of the scam artists that would use this opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable persons. Do not give out information to unauthorised persons.”
In the meantime, EOC meetings were also held with ESFs six and seven. ESF six updated Jacobs on current cases, challenges with communication in relation to protocols of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), Ambulance and CPS. A meeting will be held with the full ESF six and with general practitioners in the coming days to improve on collaboration and cooperation in the interest of public health.
“I take this opportunity to request that all qualified Nurses –Licenced Practical Nurses (LPNs) and student nurses not currently working in the field who are able to assist health care workers in the various health sectors– call CPS and register so that a pool of back up nurses can be on-call to assist when needed. Further information regarding this will be made in a subsequent announcement.”
The meeting with ESF seven –social affairs and community development– provided an update on the plan to assist the most vulnerable in the community in advance of the expected economic and social stimulus plan being rolled out. ESF seven members representing community police; community development; Court of Guardianship among others not present confirmed the plan which includes a food basket of necessities. This is being implemented, and they were given a deadline of April 1, for execution.
“Persons who may have already started feeling the negative effects of the economic downturn from COVID-19; business closures, loss of tourism related business et cetera, should call or email Social Services Department of government. Further information [such – Ed.] as a hotline number, and email address will be announced in a subsequent announcement as well.”
Today Saturday, March 28, –in the afternoon– a meeting will be held with the extended members of ESF six to get a full update and input from all stakeholders in the health care sectors.
“As I conclude my address, I ask for something very simple. Save a life by staying at home. Stay at home because you matter. Do you hear me? You matter. We are resilient and hopeful people and we will get through this period. The Emergency Operations Center, ESF coordinators are all working in the best interest of you and your families,” Jacobs noted.