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Minister VSA lists 2019-nCoV Coronavirus as Category A Disease

The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour has decided to list the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) in the category A under the Public Health Ordinance (Landsverordening publieke gezondheid) of Sint Maarten.

The Public Health Ordinance has been in effect on Sint 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.

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.

Travelers that have visited China in the past 14 days or a region where the virus has been reported are requested to call your house doctor or the Collection Prevention Services (520-4523 or 520-5283) for instructions on how to protect yourself and your family.

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.    

This classification is part of the ongoing preventative measures the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour and other stakeholders are taking to prevent an outbreak of 2019-nCoV on Sint Maarten. At the moment there are no suspected or confirmed cases on Sint Maarten.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday January 30th.

The risks of an outbreak in the Caribbean region is still considered low, however precautionary steps are being taken by Sint Maarten as well as other islands within the Caribbean basin.

The public are 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 of the week in the Daily Herald newspaper.

Coronaviruses (CoV) 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-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. 

Ministry VSA will continue to keep the public informed with respect to developments related to the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV as information becomes available from its regional and international partners, namely CARPHA, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). On an international level, the situation is constantly evolving.  

For more information, you can call CPS 542-1322, 1122, 1222, 1570 or email surveillance@sintmaartengov.org