Soualiga News Today

Soualiga News Today (4172)

PM Heyliger-Marten determined to make vitamin supplements free for all seniors

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Legislators will soon debate a proposal by Faction Leader for the United People's Party in Parliament, MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten, to add vitamin supplements to the SZV package for Senior Citizens, fulfilling a campaign promise and pledge to do more for the elderly.

Her goal is for the legislation to contribute to the health of senior citizens in particular, while bringing them much needed financial relief as well.

MP Heyliger-Marten said Wednesday the timing of her proposal coincides with the still ongoing fight against the Corona Virus COVID-19. "We continue to hear from medical experts that because the immune system weakens over time, our bodies ability to fight infection lessens. This fight against the Corona Virus has been especially difficult for senior citizens around the globe and here at home during the pandemic," said Heyliger-Marten.

In a letter sent to the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor the Honorable Richard Panneflek earlier this week Heyliger-Marten requested a meeting with the Policymakers within the Ministry, and SZV Social & Health Insurance (SZV Sociale Ziektekosten Verzekering) Management team to discuss implementing legislation on the proposed addition of the vitamin supplements to the senior citizens' health coverage.

Once the legislation is passed in Parliament, residents on the island who have reached retirement age and require different vitamins to boost their immune system, would now be able to have these supplements covered under their SZV insurance policy.

In her letter to the Minister MP Heyliger-Marten wrote, "To protect the health of our senior citizens while taking their financial situations into account, I suggest to add vitamin supplements to the SZV package for all senior citizens of Sint Maarten."

According to MP Heyliger-Marten, our senior citizens must get the help they desperately need to strengthen their immune system. By adding vitamin supplements to their medical coverage, it eliminates their monthly financial burden of having to pay between USD. $50,00 to $80,00 USD for vitamins. "This is especially challenging for this particular group of citizens who are being double taxed on their already limited income," said MP Heyliger-Marten.

The Ministry’s policy makers and SZV Management team will soon meet with members of the Public Health, Social Development and Labor committee in Parliament to discuss the way forward for what MP Heyliger-Marten hopes to be a swift process so that the legislation can reach fruition before 2021.

"I want to make it clear that I keep my promises," said MP Heyliger-Marten. In January this year, she publicly stated her belief that "our Social and Health Insurance institution must adapt best practices to serve our older adults better and help them meet the challenges that come with ageing."


SMMC gives tour of ACF to Prime Minister, Minister VSA and VSA Inspectorate

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Ahead of the transfer of care to the new storm-resilient Auxiliary Care Facility (ACF), St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) gave a tour to the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) Richard Panneflek and the Inspectorate of Health Dr. Earl Best on Monday, October 5th.

The off-premises ACF features sixteen (16) beds of which six (6) are ICU and ten (10) are medium-care. Of the ten (10) medium-care beds, four (4) are in complete isolation and segregation and are intended for suspected COVID-19 patients who are awaiting PCR results. In the event of a surge in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, SMMC has an additional isolation capacity of eleven (11) beds within the hospital.

The ACF was created by wielding special medically outfitted containers (Hospitainers), donated by the Dutch Ministry of Health, and shipping containers together and securely anchoring them to a solid concrete foundation. The containers are all connected by way of a one-way hallway with sealed doors between each section. The main hallway in the ACF connecting all rooms is outfitted with vents that allow fresh air in while purifying the air inside using HEPA-filters before releasing it back into the environment as clean, virus-free air. The entire facility is covered by one roof as additional temperature control.

In the event that a storm or hurricane poses a direct threat to St. Maarten, COVID-19 patients will be transferred to SMMC. Non-COVID-19 patients may be evacuated to an approved, nearby facility or airlifted to a hospital within the Dutch Kingdom if needed.

The project to make SMMC’s COVID-19 facilities more storm resilient was made possible in part by funds from the St. Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust fund, funded by The Netherlands and managed by the World Bank. SMMC extends its gratitude to its employees, the Government of St. Maarten, the Dutch Ministry of VWS, the World Bank and the AMI team for all of their contributions towards the health and wellbeing of the people of St. Maarten.

SMMC urges persons experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea to CALL their House Doctor or contact the CPS hotline at 914 (or 542-1122, 542-1222). Persons experiencing symptoms such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, the inability to wake or stay awake and bluish lips or face should contact the Ambulance Department by calling 912 and await further instructions.

ACF Medium Care Room

A Medium-Care room at the ACF.




Minister Panneflek: Happy World Teachers’ Day

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Honorable Minister of Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs​​​ (VSA) Richard Panneflek would like to express his appreciation to all teachers today Monday 5 October, 2020 on World Teachers’ Day.

Amid a global pandemic, our teachers have become more vital, as they continue to adjust, shape and teach through distance learning.

Minister Panneflek encourages all teachers to keep the faith and continue to educate their students on the safety and protocols of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He thanks all teachers for playing such an important role in shaping children’s education and expressed that their work and efforts does not go unnoticed.



SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Management of NAGICO Insurances hereby advises that our Head Office in Philipsburg will reopen on Monday, October 5th to the public. However, out of an abundance of caution, our Medical and Claims Department will remain closed, and services from those department will be available online only.

Following the recent confirmation of one of our staff testing positive for the COVID-19 virus on Wednesday evening, immediate action was taken and we closed our office for two days, to allow CPS to conduct a thorough contact tracing and a professional cleaning firm to do a complete deep cleaning, fumigating and sanitization of the entire building.

We are happy to report that our staff is in good spirits and under the guidance of CPS. NAGICO will continue to be prudent and responsible in our actions as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The safety of our staff is important to us and we take our responsibility to provide a safe, clean and healthy working environment for our team very seriously,” Managing Director and Territory Head Eric Ellis explained. “We would like to reassure our clients that despite the closure of our Medical and Claims Department, both services will be available online and we encourage them to connect and transact with us digitally at or via email through your usual NAGICO representatives.”

We are operating in very challenging times and we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of adhering to the Covid-19 prevention guidelines and wish you and your families continued good health.


Testing capacity now on Saba. More countries, islands move to high-risk category

SABA (THE BOTTOM) — The Public Entity Saba has announced some developments in light of the COVID-19 crisis. One positive development is that a COVID-19 testing capacity has been set up on Saba. At the same time, updates have taken place with regard to the entry and quarantine policy in the latest emergency ordinance. Several countries and islands moved to high-risk category, including Bonaire, Curaçao and the Netherlands.

Being able to test for COVID-19 and have quick and accurate results is an important tool to control any potential spread of the coronavirus. Since last week, Saba can perform Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing on-island with the installment of the necessary equipment facilitated by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment in the Netherlands (RIVM).

The number of tests that can be done on Saba is however limited, and will be prioritized for patients with symptoms, and for close contacts of any possible new case on Saba. In these situations, quick results can greatly reduce the risk of further spread. Most routine end-of-quarantine tests will still be processed off-island, either in St. Maarten or Curaçao.

Testing persons without symptoms still remains a challenge for incoming passengers from the United States and Canada, therefore Saba has also extended its testing requirements for entry to persons traveling from outside the region to 120 hours maximum before arrival to the island. For persons traveling from within the region a 72-hour maximum result is still required.

Risk categorization

Another development is that Saba has updated its risk categorization of countries and islands per September 28. On the high-risk list are now: South and Central America, the United States, the Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and most of Europe.

Classified as medium-risk countries are: Canada and St. Eustatius. Only Anguilla and St. Kitts and Nevis remain categorized as low risk.

It is required that all persons who want to enter Saba must email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request approval from the Island Governor for entry to the island. Requests are dealt with case by case. Persons from high-risk areas and medium-risk areas can be subjected to additional measures such as quarantine upon arrival and testing prior to and after arrival. Incoming persons from low risk countries/islands still need approval beforehand, but require no testing or quarantining.

Central quarantine

Concerning the central quarantine policy, the Public Entity Saba announced that it will no longer be mandatory for persons from high-risk areas to stay in a government central quarantine location. Persons from high-risk areas now have the option to quarantine at home or a private location suitable for quarantine purposes. The government quarantine location will still be available for people who cannot stay at home or do not have a private location. The price is US $50 per person, per night. All quarantine locations will be monitored 24/7 through mobile surveillance.

Long-stay visitors

Saba is working with the hotels and accommodation managers on planning for a phase one soft opening for long-stay visitors. These visitors will need to follow specific requirements such as pre- testing, signing a quarantine waiver agreeing to a 14-day quarantine, and testing at the end of quarantine for people coming from high-risk areas. The hotels and the government together are drafting plans which contain elements such as supplying of food, check-in procedure, cleaning supplies, staff procedures, transportation etc. An information package will be provided to the accommodation which will act as a guideline for the businesses and which will also have documents that need to be sent to potential guests.

Dive visits

The Public Entity Saba is furthermore working together with the local dive shops to put a protocol in place which will allow yachts to visit Saba for diving purposes. The idea is that the yachts will only come to the moorings, where they will meet with the designated dive shop. All paperwork will be done beforehand. The dive briefing will be done from a distance and the guide and divers will each depart from their own vessels before meeting under the water. Ultimately, no close or physical contact will occur and all equipment will be disinfected before and after each use.

In addition to this, the Caribbean Explorer has begun charters to Saba again. They also only go to the mooring and as they have their own dive permit, they conduct the dives themselves without any interaction with residents. Divers from both the Caribbean Explorer and the yachts are not permitted to come ashore.

The Government will continue to work along with the Saba University School of Medicine on a process for incoming medical students and professors to the island. 


CIBC FirstCaribbean Employees Count Down to Virtual Walk for the Cure

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - CIBC FirstCaribbean employees wore purple, and Walk for the Cure/Positive Foundation face masks for Jeans Day to raise cancer awareness and funds ahead of the bank’s Virtual Walk for the Cure & Concert of Hope taking place this Sunday, October 4. 

The bank, through promoter 4D Entertainment, will be producing the regional event that will bring together some thirteen popular regional performers and two DJs for a full three hours of entertainment that will also include energetic workout sessions from a number of top fitness coaches. 

Two performers bringing a different feel to the show will be St. Maarten’s very own, King James and Reinir Lijfrock from the island of Curacao. Regional performers include Mr. Vegas from Jamaica, Mr. Killa from Grenada, Teddyson John from St. Lucia, Ricardo Drue hailing from Antigua, and from the Bahamas Julian Believe. 

The online programme commences at 4p.m. and can be viewed by logging on to;;;

Caribvision and Zoom. 

Persons wishing to support the cause can purchase face masks for $10.00 USD via the bank or the Positive Foundation. Contributions can also be made via the walk’s donation drop boxes or via CIBC FirstCaribbean Account C/A 10055400 at both the Philipsburg and Cole Bay branches.



SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Management of NAGICO Insurances advises that we have received notice of one confirmed Covid-19 case at the Company’s Philipsburg Office. We have taken immediate action in the best interest of our staff, customers, and partners. Our Philipsburg Office will be closed on 1st and 2nd October 2020 to facilitate the thorough sanitization of the three levels of our building by a professional cleaning firm.

We are being prudent and responsible in our actions. CPS is aware of the positive case and is conducting contact tracing. Please rest assured that although our Philipsburg Office is temporarily closed, our team remains available remotely to address your needs in the normal course of business.  As a reminder, for your convenience we have expanded the suite of services available on our website and we encourage you to connect and transact with us digitally at or via email through your usual NAGICO representatives. The online services include request a quote, notification of a loss, submission of claim documents and renewal of policies.

The health and safety of our stakeholders is of paramount importance to us. We have taken the necessary steps to ensure business continuity and your well-being.

We are operating in some very challenging times thus we take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of adhering to the Covid-19 prevention guidelines and wish you and your families continued good health.


PFP MP Gumbs Questions Minister of TEATT De Weever on BTP Matters

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Party for Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs sent questions to Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Telecommunications and Transportation Ludmila de Weever on Tuesday, 28 September 2020 about the current status of several outstanding items related to Bureau Telecommunications & Post (BTP).

BTP is the country regulator on telecommunications and postal matters. Gumbs, who prior to being elected to Parliament worked for one of the country’s telecommunication companies, based her questions to the Minister on the 2015 General Audit Chamber’s audit report on governance at BTP and the country’s current ICT status.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our country’s ICT infrastructure into the spotlight,” Gumbs said in a media statement. “From online learning and accessing government services online, to the ability to do business digitally, COVID has exposed existing cracks in our ability to compete regionally from a connectivity point of view. At the heart of it is, in my belief, the country’s regulatory body, Bureau Telecommunications and Post.”

Gumbs requested that the Minister provide a breakdown of how the Ministry had addressed and implemented the recommendations of the Audit Chamber’s 2015 audit report. Among these recommendations, which Gumbs provided with her questions, were setting a vision, policy, and policy objectives for the telecommunication and postal sectors of the country.

“The Audit Chamber report highlighted that there has been no actual vision for how we would like to see these two sectors develop and grow,” Gumbs stated. “This has, unfortunately, been a running theme for each TEATT minister, year over year.”

Also, among the recommendations from the Audit Chamber was the establishment of an annual performance contract for the Director of BTP that is actually in accordance with the National Ordinance of BTP. The audit report highlighted several discrepancies with regards to the state of the Director’s contract in 2015, and Gumbs is curious as to whether this, and other recommendations, have been resolved.

Secondary to the Audit Chamber’s report, Gumbs queried the status of BTP’s probe project, which involved installing mobile and fixed measuring probes in vehicles and homes, respectively. The project was meant to yield clear data that reflected actual performance levels of the country’s internet service providers, with the intention that BTP then hold the providers accountable for any failure to meet service standards. The MP requested information on the project, most notably what the results were, if telecom providers were in compliance with BTP and if any final reports on this project be delivered to Parliament.

“E-government, online learning, e-commerce are all beautiful concepts,” Gumbs said. “But they rely on a vision and concrete plan for growth and development in the telecom and postal sector. Bandwidth capacity issues will impact the future of these areas of our country’s development and more. Even ideas that target digital nomads (people who work from different countries) will be held back by a lagging ICT infrastructure; if we cannot handle the people who live here, how do we expect to handle an influx of others?”


SMMC installs new state-of-the-art mammography machine

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is pleased to announce the arrival and installation of their new GE Pristina Mammography Machine and the resumption of its mammography service.

The machine, which has been operational since September 1st 2020, is a state-of-the-art mammography machine that features superior diagnostic accuracy, 3D imaging and an FDA seal of approval and has been named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions in 2019. In addition to its innovative features, the new machine offers a more pleasant and less intense experience for patients, and is right on time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

As of September 1st, patients who were placed on the waiting list were scheduled for their exams along with urgent cases. New requests were scheduled accordingly to handle the backlog of patients due to the previous machine being down and the local surge of COVID-19 cases. Prior to the arrival of the new machine, patients were given a referral to the French side to conduct their mammograms but since September 1st, these referrals to the French Side have ceased.

SMMC’s Manager Patient Care and Education, Mr. Antonio Pantophlet said; “We are extremely happy to have this new machine in service as it allows us to continue to provide quality care to the people of St. Maarten, Saba, Statia and the surrounding islands, close to home”.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately this year our observance of breast cancer awareness month looks a bit different than usual but nonetheless, we still intend to spend the month of October doing all we can in close collaboration with the Positive Foundation and the Elektralytes Foundation to increase breast cancer awareness on the island of St. Maarten”, concluded Mr. Pantophlet.

SMMC thanks all patients, the General Practitioners and the insurance companies for their patience and understanding while they awaited the arrival of the new machine. SMMC also extends their gratitude to Dr. Bartoli and the Centre d’Imagerie Medicale on French Saint Martin for accommodating patients’ mammography exams in the interim.

SMMC is proud to have this new, state-of-the-art machine in service and urges all patients interested in a mammogram to visit their General Practitioner to obtain a referral letter. Appointments can be made by calling the Radiology Department at: Tel: +(1-721) 543-1111 ext. 1360 or 1367 from Monday - Friday between 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.

SMMCs GE Pristina Mammography Machine

SMMC’s Mammography Room with the new GE Pristina Mammography Machine



West Tech Shipping and the Rotary Club Assist Families with Back to School

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - West Tech Shipping is donating school supplies to underprivileged students across the region.

This week the regional courier and logistics company donated tablets, wireless keyboards and school supplies to the Rotary Club, which selected the students who would benefit most from the donation. In a supporting press release the Rotary Club of St. Maarten Sunset says that supporting basic education and literacy is one of its primary areas of focus and the Club strongly believes in the right to sound education for every child.

“Providing a tablet for a student in need is like igniting a flame of endless opportunities. Although COVID-19 has presented our educational system with numerous challenges, it has also accelerated our educational system to embrace all the benefits of technology through virtual learning. As an educator and avid supporter of education, I am truly honored to be a part of an organization that takes action to create lasting change in our community

President of the Rotary Club of St. Maarten Sunset, Elisia Lake stated.

The 2020 school year is a very challenging one from a number of angles. With the introduction of homeschooling, tablets and other mobile devices have become a staple in the education curriculum. A number of families, in particular families with more than one student, have found it burdensome to source virtual learning devices to accommodate their needs. West Tech shipping recognizes that business and organizations must play its part in assisting those families for the benefit of the children.

“West Tech Shipping always strives to assist the community in whatever little way that we can. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many lives and created a major technological shift in the education system, one that many parents were not prepared for. We felt that if we could touch at least one underprivileged family from each of the five territories in which we operate, we would have lessened the burden and contributed to the education of a child.”

“We are not solely in the business of shipping your packages; we want to give back to our customers and the wider community. We are grateful that the Rotary Club agreed to partner with us on this humble venture by selecting and handing over the supplies to the deserving students.”

Commented West Tech Shipping’s Regional Marketing Manager-Delia Louis

This gesture is not the first time the Shipping Company has played an integral part in the development of the community. West Tech has partnered with the Buddy Bench programme to fight bullying in schools; the Dunnottar School to provide employment experience to a disabled student, the Make It Happen Foundation on prisoner rehabilitation, the Salvation Army through volunteer time, made donations to local charitable causes and supported sporting, cultural and social events through sponsorships. West Tech Shipping continues to work with local colleges to provide annual internship and employment opportunities for students.


About West Tech Shipping

West Tech Shipping is the leading, regional courier and logistics company. West Tech customers enjoy fast, easy and affordable air shipments (Monday to Friday), and one weekly sea freight package shipment, from the United States into the Caribbean region.

Simply order your items anywhere online, or West Tech orders for you, and you can receive your packages in as little as two business days, once the packages reach our US warehouse.

The shipping service can also be utilised to receive packages from friends and relatives in the US, or if you are travelling and do not wish to pay extra charges for flight luggage.

West Tech offers tracking and shipment notification services, as well as, the option to pay online or via our mobile app, using your personal West Tech account. West Tech customers also benefit from “Shippy” points on their orders, which can be used to pay for shipping and handling fees.

West Tech Shipping provides five convenient locations across the region, in Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Maarten, Grenada and Barbados

To experience quick shipping at the most competitive rates sign up for a free West Tech Shipping account at

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