People of St. Maarten here and abroad, I hereby address you as Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), in an update for today, Monday, May 4, 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.
Today, May 4th, I am happy to announce that there have been no new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 5 days. However, I’d still like to update you on our latest available data. Based on the latest available data, the counts for May 4, as of 4:30 PM are as follows:
· Self-Quarantine: 76
· Self-Isolation: 46
· Number Hospitalized: 5
· Number Tested: 359
o Number Positive: 76
§ Male: 54
§ Female: 22
o Number Negative: 277
o Number Pending: 5
o Inconclusive: 1
· Deceased: 14
· Recovered: 44
· Active Case: 18
It has been noted by Collective Prevention Service (CPS), that while doing a clean-up of their data and cross-checking with the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC), that they missed the notification of 1 death that occurred around April 24th, 2020. As such, the death rate as of that date is at 14. There have been no new deaths as of today. I apologize to the general public for not giving that information as the clean-up happened over the past weekend and therefore, could only be divulged today.
There is quite a downward trend as you can see in the active cases. I would like to also explain that isolation cases are persons who have symptoms. CPS has noted that many persons have come out of quarantine and isolation as a result of passing their terms or not having symptoms any longer. Persons
with suspected COVID-19 that have been tested or will be tested by CPS also fall within this isolation group and persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 that are still being actively monitored.
There are currently five COVID-19 confirmed patients admitted to SMMC. One is in the ICU tent and four are in the Mobile Medical Pavilion (MMP) of which two will be discharged soon. This means that there are no COVID-19 patients currently at SMMC. Over the past seven days, there have been no new COVID-19 admissions to SMMC.
On Wednesday 6, May 2020, KLM Dutch Royal Airlines will be making a repatriation flight to Curacao with a stop in St. Maarten. This is to allow Dutch Nationals to return to the Netherlands. Persons traveling to the Princess Juliana International Airport won’t need waivers to do so. Wednesday is a regular day for persons to travel for essential services, therefore, proof of your ticket will be enough in the event you are stopped from going from one zone to the other on your way to the airport. Persons who are passengers traveling to the airport are allowed to do so with a driver, however, in this case, more than two passengers will be allowed in the car as long as they have proof of their ticket(s) to take this flight and any other repatriation flight.
Today, May 4th, a meeting was held with the disaster management team including National Disaster Coordinator Mr. Clive Richardson, Mr. Paul Martens, Mr. Silvanico Pauletta, and Ms. Iesha Harrigan together with myself and the legal advisors to reflect on the decisions made, actions taken, planning and strategies moving forward with the EOC since its activation on March 4th, 2020. This is exactly two months ago.
ESF 4, 5, 6, and 10 coordinators have also met to coordinate and develop the guidelines for de-escalation of the re-opening of St. Maarten in a phased manner. These guidelines will give clarity to the general public on the approach of the measures to be taken. We look forward to presenting these to the public once completed. The measures already in place will continue during the de-escalation period. Any new businesses looking to open in the coming period would have to live up to very strict measures and must have an action plan in place to ensure the safety of their employees as well as those persons visiting the location.
The task force comprising of ESF 4, 5, 6, and 10 will be the ones to grant the ‘go-ahead’ for these businesses to open once I have made that National Decree. The decree will come into play once this National Decree that we are now under expires. This expiration will take place on Sunday, May 10th, 2020. In that decree, I expect that I would be able to state exactly how we will be moving forward with the de-escalation measures as time goes by.
I would like to give the general public a clear overview of the plan of action of government for the next four weeks. This way you will be able to prepare, plan, and also adjust the way we must behave in this new normal. I am very happy that the ‘State of Emergency’ has had its desired effect. We have ensured that our health sector has never been overrun to the point where we could not handle the number of COVID-19 positive cases that needed medical attention. We were under duress for quite some time when we were trying to build up our capacity. However, I must say, thanks to good cooperation within the kingdom, we have been able to build up our capacity and remain ready to deal with anything should it reoccur.
I would like to take this time to thank each and every one of our front-liners who go out every day while some persons can stay at home and work, or while some of us can stay with family and friends and be safe. You are going out on a daily basis, sometimes on many long-hour shifts and taking care of the people of St. Maarten. You are the real heroes!
The government of St. Maarten and the people of St. Maarten are appreciative of the great work that you continue to do. It has taken a lot of discipline for us to get here. It has taken a lot of adjustments. It has taken a lot of pain. It has taken some depression and stress, but as I’ve said before in many of my broadcasts, St. Maarten is special! We have something that the rest of the world wants, and that’s why they will continue to flock to our shores. Many who come here do not leave because there is something special about this blessed island.
We must give thanks on a daily basis that we have seen some really rough days. In 2017 no one thought we would ever come back from the hurricanes. They thought St. Maarten was dead, but low and behold, after three months of no tourism, we were able to come back strong; St. Maarten Strong! Now, with this new COVID-19 reality, I expect, I know, and I have faith that St. Maarten will come back regardless of what’s going on around the world. Once travel bans are lifted around the world, St. Maarten will be the place that most will flock to and we will be ready to deal with that when it happens. As such, our de-escalation plans also include how residents will be able to return to the island and those announcements will also be made.
I thank all of you out there who are waiting to come home. I know it’s a tough time and we are making the plans together with all the entities to make that possible in the safest possible manner for you, your families, and also for the general public of St. Maarten. That has always been my number one priority. The safety and security of St. Maarten’s people.
People of St. Maarten, we see the end of the tunnel. It is up to us, the people, to determine how we will get out of this. I see the light and you see the light, but we must work together; businesses, organizations, community leaders, the people individually of St. Maarten, all our front-liners, volunteers and all working as a team for St. Maarten. With that being said, we must continue to adhere to the guidelines, rules, and regulations to keep our community safe. Let us continue to be patient, faithful, and compliant. I am proud of how complaint you have been. Our behavior as one people will determine our success. Our positive mindset will determine our success. God bless you St. Maarten. Never lose hope! We are a blessed country!