PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Pamela Gordon-Carty has listed the novel coronavirus 2019-nCov in category A under the Public Health Ordinance (Landsverordening publieke gezondheid) of St. Maarten.
“The Public Health Ordinance has been in effect in St. Maarten since 2018 and provides the option to classify new infectious diseases in either A, B1, B2 or C, Category A being the most severe. Other coronaviruses have also been listed in the same category,” VSA said in a press release on Friday.
The classification has direct consequences for potential patients, healthcare workers and the government. The law prescribes, per category, the reporting responsibilities for healthcare workers and laboratories to ensure early detection of any potential cases. It also provides options to use surveillance tools such as quarantine and isolation of exposed persons.
Healthcare providers will be informed via a letter from the Ministry with further instructions.
“The public is reminded that good hygiene practices are the most effective way, in general, to prevent becoming infected with an infectious disease, including the novel coronavirus: regular handwashing, adopting good cough etiquette and avoiding close contact with sick persons as much as possible,” VSA said.
The ministry said travellers who have visited China or a region where the virus has been reported in the past 14 days are requested to call their house doctor or the Collective Prevention Services at 520-4523 or 520-5283 for instructions on how to protect themselves and their families.
“Monitor your own health and contact a healthcare provider by telephone should you develop symptoms such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath associated with 2019-nCoV,” VSA said.
This classification is part of the ongoing preventative measures VSA and other stakeholders are taking to prevent an outbreak of 2019-nCoV in St. Maarten. At the moment, there are no suspected or confirmed cases in St. Maarten.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday, January 30.
VSA said the risk of an outbreak in the Caribbean region is still considered low, but precautionary steps are being taken by St. Maarten as well as other islands within the Caribbean basin. The public is advised to check the government’s network for official and factual news and information about the coronavirus.
The Department of Communication DCOMM government public information network includes SXMGOV Radio 107.9FM, website
sintmaartengov.org, Facebook page
Facebook.com/SXMGOV, YouTube Channel
YouTube.com/sxmgov, TV programming via Cable TV Channel 115, and the Government Information Page (GIP) published five days weekly in The Daily Herald newspaper.
Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
The VSA Ministry said it will continue to keep the public informed with respect to developments related to the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV as information becomes available from its regional and international partners, namely the Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the WHO. “On an international level, the situation is constantly evolving.”
For more information, persons can call CPS at 542-1322, 1122, 1222, 1570 or email
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