People of St. Maarten, I come to you this evening as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC in an update for today, April 2, 2020.
In my last National Address on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, I gave some updates where the details pertaining to St. Maarten Medical Centre’s capacity in dealing with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients were based on discussions held over the weekend. I can hereby update you on the current capacity at SMMC. SMMC clarified in a communique of Wednesday, April 1, 2020, and updated a few minutes ago that they currently have 15 beds available; 6 are for medium up to and including ICU care and 9 are purely for medium care. These available beds have been made available for COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 cases.
SMMC also has three regular ventilators and one mobile ventilator available for ICU patients. At the moment, there are three confirmed positive COVID-19 patients, and three highly suspected cases in the care of SMMC. Thus, from the beginning to now, ten persons have been admitted thus far, three have been discharged, three are critical, two are stable, and one highly suspected case has reportedly passed away this afternoon. I hereby extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and wish them and all God’s blessings as they deal with this very tough loss. This brings our total of deceased persons to two, as the previously deceased person has been confirmed as a COVID-19 case as well.
Despite these last rough couple of days, I do have some good news to report. As of yesterday, April 1, 2020, I was informed that local laboratories on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, including HCLS in collaboration with our national lab SLS, is now cleared for testing for COVID-19 suspected patients locally. Results submitted before 3:00 PM will be available the same day. As a result of the ability to test locally, we will be increasing our testing samples. Please, take note that this will most likely result in an increased amount of confirmed cases.
SMMC has also reported that the first COVID-19 related death, never reported to SMMC for treatment prior to that day. Thus, the Prime Minister would like to remind all persons to reach out to CPS in the event that you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Additionally, though we are doing the best with the resources we have available and have implemented various measures to expand the capacity at SMMC, the capacity of SMMC is small and therefore the entire population should take the necessary precautions and stay home.
In more positive news, during our Ministerial Consultation on Health and COVID-19 held this morning April 2nd, between all 4 countries of the Kingdom, including BES, it was concluded that out of the 42 Intensive Care beds being sent by the Netherlands for the Dutch Caribbean Countries and Islands, 12 of these Intensive Care beds will be sent to St. Maarten and no longer 6 as was initially proposed. All 42 beds will serve as an overflow for all Caribbean countries and islands in the Dutch Kingdom. Moreover, St. Maarten is very much appreciative of the opportunity to receive this assistance as we have been making repeated requests for the month.
We are continuously assessing new ways to source the capacities and resources that we have locally and as such, have been trying to partner with various stakeholders and businesses to see how we can identify a location for quarantining and where necessary, for isolation units. We were able to identify a location and have started the process necessary to certify the location for our quarantine and isolation needs. When it is finalized, I will update you accordingly.
An isolation space has been identified to house COVID-19 positive patients which we expect to start populating as of tomorrow in order to ensure isolation of these cases.
In today’s Update on Cases: The total numbers of cases have risen once more.
• Self- Quarantine: 273
• Self-Isolation: 123
• Number Tested: 82
o Number Positive: 23 (3 of which are currently hospitalized)
♣ 18 Males + 5 Females
o Number Negative: 41
o Number Pending: 18 (3 of which are currently hospitalized)
• Deceased: 2 confirmed (Males)
• Recovered: 1
Concerning business closure sanctions, I hereby remind employers that failure to adhere to the business closure regulations in connection with COVID-19 will result in a fine of up to maximum NAF 18,000 in accordance with the list entitled ‘Transaction list related to COVID-19 measures’ as published by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The food suppliers that supply to supermarkets will continue to be able to supply as well as bakeries. As mentioned before, only government construction and emergency services will be able to make use of construction, hardware stores, maintenance, and repair and as of tomorrow evening, only restaurants will be available to those emergency services.
As the government, we would like to ensure that you as a family and people of St. Maarten are protected. However, each and every individual has a role to play in this. Ensure that you have activities that you can take part in with your family in your home, especially those students who are keeping up with their schoolwork. This is a great opportunity for parents and kids to bond and show appreciation for the teachers who are going out of their way to continue to enforce learning at home.
This is a good time to reflect. This is an excellent time to pray. As I conclude with this simple message; we are a blessed nation; we trust and love God and we should love each other. Yesterday, Minister Irion mentioned that he has not visited his mom in three weeks because he loves her. I would like us to think about protecting our love ones by staying away. We can only stop the spread by keeping isolated or quarantine within our home. Those of us that have to come out and work are a limited number and this will also ease the burden on our police force as they will have to go to the long haul if we had to go to a total shut down. Yes, this is still possible, so I implore you to follow the directions of the police and if you have no reason to be on the road, stay at home.
The emergency services are included, such as food, pharmacies, going to the doctor, otherwise, you have no reason to be on the streets. You do not need to be browsing in the supermarkets, just get in buy and get out.
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.
Be safe St. Maarten. God bless you!