People of St. Maarten, I hereby address you as Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), in an update for today, Monday, April 20, 2020 as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures.
Based on the latest available data, the counts for April 20, as of 4:00 PM are as follows:
· Self-Quarantine: 98 (no new updates)
· Self-Isolation: 87 (no new updates)
· Number Hospitalized: 7 (based upon information received on April 19 at 5:30 PM)
· Number Tested: 249
o Number Positive: 68
§ Male: 47
§ Female: 21
o Number Negative: 141
o Number Pending:39
o Inconclusive: 1
· Deceased: 10 (Includes Dutch resident who passed away in Guadeloupe)
· Recovered: 12
· Active Case: 46
I can now announce that the first patient has been transferred to the Mobile Medical Pavilion at SMMC as of Saturday, April 18th, 2020. The patient requires level 4 care and will be given that care at the MMP before being discharged. This also allows for beds to be freed up at the hospital so that they can resume other services they are accustomed to.
I am also able to say that St. Maarten is now the recipient of the first ICU Hospitainer which arrived over the weekend and will replace the ICU tent. The second hospitainer will arrive later this week. These hospitainers were made possible by the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports in the Netherlands.
CPS Community Outreach
In regards to CPS’ community outreach efforts, I was provided with some preliminary findings from the outreach within 3 neighborhoods. From April 14 to April 19, 2020, CPS led a community initiative where volunteers would go door to door to identify those persons with symptoms. If those persons were symptomatic, they were tested by CPS staff. The volunteers went to 3 neighborhoods (Sucker Garden, Cay Bay and Cay Hill) and spoke to approximately 242 households consisting of 632 persons. CPS identified 9 persons with symptoms, of which 6 persons were tested. The results of these persons are still pending.
Meeting with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok
This morning a meeting was held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this meeting as well were the Prime Ministers of Curacao and Aruba. During the meeting each Minister from Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and The Netherlands gave an update on the measures implemented and the status of the crisis as well as the confirmed numbers. Discussion was had about the possibility for international and European assistance to which, Minister Blok indicated that they will provide information on this matter at a later date, to be determined. Minister Blok and BZ are willing to assist with discussions of aid and assistance from Cuba and China but expressed the need for the Countries to be vigilant with the proposals of assistance.
Meeting with the Prefet
This afternoon a meeting was also held with our northern counterparts. Both the Prefet and myself offered an update on the recent cases being tracked by the health authorities on Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. As well as updates on the current cases in the hospital. The Prefet expressed plans to increase testing to get more accurate information on whether or not there is a wider spread of the virus on Saint Martin. Currently, they are testing based on the severity of the case and are willing to start to test milder symptom cases, which would be more in line with the method applied by Sint Maarten. Additionally, it was agreed that the health authorities on both sides will coordinate efforts on qualifying persons as healthy. Currently, there are disparities between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin as to how to qualify persons as recovered.
Finally, the bottlenecks that were experienced with the waiver system last week were ironed out. It was confirmed again that the system for cross-border travel waivers, is that each country will decide who may enter into their territory. A signed waiver is necessary from the Country a person wished to travel to. Synchronization of the qualification for granting waivers was also briefly discussed to curb the granting of too many waivers.
In my address yesterday, April 18, 2020, I informed you about the details of the National Decree extending the exception of April 20, 2020, no. 2020/0316 for the entire territory of St. Maarten. The new national decree, will be for a period of three weeks and began on April 19, 2020, with the possibility of an extension if necessary.
Persons who live in Saint Martin and work in Sint Maarten or have urgent medical appointments are required to fill in the Travel Waiver (Form Certificate of Exception) which must be signed by the employer and the Prime Minister (email@example.com) or the Chief of Police
(firstname.lastname@example.org). This also counts for deliveries. The forms (A, B and C) have been updated on www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus.
Persons who live in Sint Maarten and work in Saint Martin or have urgent medical appointments should get the necessary waiver signed by their employer and the Prefet of St. Barths and Saint Martin via the online form (https://forms.gle/QugqNVS1nWrCnY9U9) or digital copies can be sent to email@example.com. This also counts for deliveries.
For clarity, I’d like to reiterate that the staff of the essential businesses allowed to provide services must be in the possession of a valid disaster pass or a waiver signed by the owner of the business. Persons already in possession of an existing waiver for essential services mentioned herein and signed by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs, and the Minister of Justice or the Chief of Police are automatically renewed. Persons required to utilize the public roads for medical emergencies and/or medical appointments should have proof of said appointment.
ESF 6 Social Development
Emergency Support Function 6 had a fruitful meeting with the organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are out delivering, as well as with the community leaders to streamline the delivery list. The updated delivery list for distribution is currently being finalized and the food packages are also currently being packed. They will be ready for distribution by Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, in collaboration with the community leaders.
National Decree Info Graphics
Today, April 20, 2020, in accordance with the National Decree, government released several info graphics to the public in order to bring clarity to the National Decree.
· The Essential Business Shopping Schedule
· Essential Businesses Allowed to Provide Services (In the event of emergencies as well)
· Conditions for Grocery Stores & Bakeries
· Information Regarding Waivers
ESF 10 TEATT
Today was uneventful which is good from a social distancing standpoint. Crowds continue to decrease, and businesses are responding to the recommendations. The rush at the supermarkets and grocery stores has subsided. ESF 10 will now focus more of their time on the recovery and reopening of the economy based on research that was & is being conducted. ESF 10 Coordinator Miguel de Weever will also be meeting with representatives of our Ports of Entry (Airport & Harbor) to discuss how to re-open the ports of entry in a safe manner.
In closing, I would like to commend the tireless efforts of all essential staff of the various businesses and emergency services who continue, despite the pandemic, to work in the health and safety of all. Any complaints will be properly researched if businesses are not following the proper guidelines and of course fines will be issued. The business would be shutdown for the remainder of the state of emergency. I am sure most businesses who are happy to be open are not going to jeopardize that and would be more than happy to live up to the regulations as has been published and shared with them prior to the national decree being established.
I would also like to say, that as front care and front line workers and all the medical personnel, you are doing a great job. I know some of you are quite tired, and I would like to admonish you to find time to rest. We will be able to ensure that you get some rest by ensuring that the rest of the population remains at home during this period.
I would like to thank each and every person who has followed the measures, are observing their health or have it as priority number one and remembering to remain faithful. Remember, we are faithful, we are strong, and we are Sint Maarten. I know when I think about the root cause of so many mistakes and spiritual pitfalls in life, the source always comes from fear. A lot of persons who remain negative on social media etc., are acting out of faith, but I would like to ask you to think about your actions and think about whether you are doing damage or doing good.
The Government of Sint Maarten has truly been transparent in bringing information almost to the minute, as soon as we have it. Sometimes when people are pounding ‘melee’ about certain things, that means that we have not received it officially, and if you hear about it later in the day or the next day, that is when we have been able to ascertain that it is a fact and what measures have been taken to mitigate whatever may have gone wrong.
I would like to ask you to remain faithful as I have asked you before, remain strong, as we are a blessed country. We will come back from this and we are already on our way back. Stay blessed Sint Maarten, stay acting out of love and faith and have a wonderful evening.
Be blessed St. Maarten!