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Prime Minister & Chair of the EOC Silveria Jacobs Public Briefing on COVID-19 Developments APRIL 3, 2020

People of St. Maarten, I come to you this afternoon as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC in a Public Briefing for today, April 3, 2020.

Leaked Information

It was brought to my attention this morning, that sensitive information that was shared with medical health professionals was leaked to the public and shared on Facebook. Persons who are confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients along with their addresses were shared. This is quite a disappointing turn of events and a serious breach of confidentiality. The purpose of sharing this confidential information was to safeguard the health and safety of the medical professionals involved. This information was confidential and persons understood such. This matter will be thoroughly investigated and the persons involved will be hearing from the police as I have already alerted them of this serious breach of privacy.

Burial of Persons

Regarding the burial of persons who are COVID-19 positive or suspected, the families of these persons have been made aware that the international standards for dealing with deceased COVID-19 positive and suspected persons is to have them buried or cremated. Currently, St. Maarten has limited tomb spaces and no more burial plots. As a result, all COVID-19 patients can only be buried underground or cremated and at the moment there are no more burial plots at the Cul de Sac cemetery.

Cyber Attacks

The population should be aware that now almost everyone is working digitally. St. Maarten is even more susceptible to cyberattacks. Therefore, persons should be cautious of suspicious emails and websites.

Persons with underlying medical issues (co-morbidities) are more at risk and should remain at home if one experiences these signs and symptoms. From the information that is available, we know that there are certain communities that need to step up prevention measures. We are working out plans to have Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and a representative from the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) go into these communities. These communities are very religious based and cultural as well.

In addition, employers need to pay better attention to their employees. Once you see your employees exhibiting signs and symptoms please send them home.

As some persons may be aware, there is a voice note going around the island, stating that there will be a shutdown. I would like to confirm that this is being planned. Due to the increasing trend of fatalities and the rising numbers of cases it is reasonable to conclude that persons who were supposed to be on quarantine and isolation have failed to take the necessary precautions and that persons who are healthy continue to be outside of their homes unnecessarily. It is obvious from the current numbers, that voluntary compliance is not optimal and therefore, further measures will be announced as soon as the decree has been signed off.

In conclusion, please always remember that even with the stacks against us, St. Maarten has always been and will always be a resilient nation. This resilience has built this country and has been inherited from our forefathers. Much like after Hurricane Luis, much like after Hurricane Irma and Maria and even through COVID-19, St. Maarten will rise again. Even though many are suffering, and these times and restraints can be overwhelming, there is hope. This hope cannot be overshadowed.

Acknowledging the significant impact of COVID-19, let us give thanks for what we do have, and let us find a way to ensure the common good of all. Protect yourself and continue to pray for St. Maarten and her people.

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.

Stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. The safety and security of our population depend on your compliance with our regulations.

God bless St. Maarten and her people as we work together; Government, community and each and every St. Maarten resident, to keep her safe.

St. Maarten Strong, always moving forward.