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23 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and four deceased

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Government of Sint Maarten’s epidemiologist and Head of the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Eva Lista-De Weever, during a press briefing on Friday afternoon with the Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs and other members of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), gave an update with respect to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

As of Friday, April 3rd at 1.30pm, the number of COVID-19 positive cases stood at 23, of which four had passed away.  Of the 23 cases, 17 are male and six are female.

CPS is currently conducting contact tracing of over 90 close contacts to the 23 positive COVID-19 cases. This is a lengthy process and personnel from CPS are trying to be as thorough as possible.

Those in quarantine or in isolation, Eva Lista-De Weever reminded them that they must adhere to the aforementioned, stay at home and remain in isolation.  Some persons have been out and about on the road, and therefore you are truly asked to stay at home.

Persons with Underlying Health Conditions – Stay at Home

Lista-De Weever also brought attention to persons with underlying health conditions such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease; to stay at home, because those underlying health conditions are an additional risk and therefore the disease has a greater impact.

In conclusion, Lista-De Weever called on the population not to panic; but this is a serious situation. Persons with flu-like symptoms should first call their family physician; do not go to the hospital; do not put others at risk; and isolate yourself.  Follow the instructions of your family physician.

Prime Minister Jacobs during the press briefing on Friday stated that persons who are not listening to remain in quarantine and self-isolate, and who pose a threat to the community will be moved to the quarantine facility which is being prepared by the Government.

In an update, the prime minister stated that a Dutch military transport aircraft will be arriving this weekend with 12 ventilators.  Some will be placed at the St. Maarten Medical Center and some may be set-up in the Pavillion which has been erected to hold additional COVID-19 patients.

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Inspectorate of TEATT responds to complaints about price gouging on eggs

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Inspectorate of TEATT has taken note of several complaints made regarding the sudden increase in the price of eggs and other consumables on the local market. Specifically, claims are being made of “price gouging” by some local supermarkets and wholesalers.

Price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. Usually, this event occurs after a demand or supply shock. 

As a result of the complaints, the Inspectorate launched an investigation to determine whether there is a relationship between the movements in the retail price of eggs and other food commodities versus the wholesale prices being offered by suppliers. Based on invoices of U.S.-based suppliers received from several major food importers (on the wholesale level) and supermarkets (on the retail level), the following was determined: 

Over the period March 11th to March 30th 2020, the price of eggs and the listed consumables have changed considerably. The change (increase) in wholesale price is displayed in the table below. 

Increase in

Wholesale Prices 

Product Description 

3/11/2020 to 3/25/2020 

egg brown lrg 

193% 

egg large 

142% 

egg large E.B. organic 

114% 

egg white jumbo 

185% 

egg white X-lrg  

209% 

eggs medium  

188% 

iceberg lettuce 

135% 

Limes  

132% 

Additionally, the chart below shows the differences in real numbers across the major wholesalers/ importers on the island.

Based on the aforementioned, it has been determined that there is no price gouging happening on the local market, but rather that the increase in prices locally is attributed to the increase in prices from source markets abroad.

Additionally, based on research conducted, we have also determined that the demand for and the consequent prices of these food commodities are also being driven by the online promotion of these foods as cures or recommended treatments for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Foods like ginger, lime, brown sugar are all being promoted online and via social media as cures to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) or being able to address its symptoms.

The Inspectorate recommends that the public follow the recommendations and guidelines of WHO, CDC and local public health officials only.

According to Quartz, a website focused on offering different perspectives on the global economy, “panic buying at grocery stores has made eggs and orange juice the best performing assets this year. A handful of agricultural commodities are in high demand. A dozen large white eggs has jumped to about $2.93, up from around $0.84 at the beginning of the year [in the U.S.], according to FactSet, citing the USDA data.” 

Returning to the original definition of price gouging. It has been stated emphatically by local government officials that there is no shortage of food supply on the island and therefore the motive for price gouging currently does not exist i.e. no disruption or shock in food supply.  However, international developments in the price of food driven by fears surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) can and will continue to impact the price of food imports to the island.

The Inspectorate encourages the general public to consult the maximum price list for COVID-19 products found on the government’s website when shopping and before filing complaints. Secondly, please consult official sources for information on COVID-19 as consumer behavior individually and collectively vis-à-vis panic buying can drive up the prices you pay for food.  

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2020 Hurricane Season: Up to 16 named storms, up to eight hurricanes and four major Cat 3+

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The first preliminary forecast is out for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season which is a little over two-months away – June 1st – and it calls for an above-normal activity.

The Colorado State University (CSU) Department of Atmospheric Science on Thursday issued its first extended range forecast: “We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean. As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

The number of named storms forecast are: 16 named storms; of which eight (8) could become hurricanes; and of those eight, four (4) could become major hurricanes of Category 3+; 80 named storm days; 35 hurricane days; and nine major hurricane days for the season.

An average hurricane season sees 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season ended with 18-named storms, that included six hurricanes of which three became major (Category 3, 4 or 5) systems.

The CSU April forecast is based on a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data. The next forecast will be in June.

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Additional testing on Saba, so far no COVID-19 cases

SABA—The COVID-19 virus so far has not been introduced on Saba. As a precautionary measure, an additional 13 persons who are in self-quarantine were tested on Wednesday, April 1, Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson stated.

The tested persons are not displaying symptoms of the virus, but were selected based on their recent travel history to high-risk areas in Europe and the United States. Saba’s Outbreak Management Team met on Wednesday to discuss on how best to proceed to combat the uncertainties that the virus brings, especially with the developments on the sister islands, and the further ruling out of the possibility of COVID-19 on Saba.

Quarantined persons continue to be regularly checked by health care officials before they are released. If they display symptoms, they will be tested and their quarantine extended until the test results return. Quarantining and social distancing prove to be effective methods in containing this virus. “We thank all those in our community who keep adhering to the measures. Without your commitment, these measures would not be effective and make us more susceptible to the virus. Please continue to practice social distancing and strict hygiene measures. Let’s continue to work together during this difficult time,” said Johnson.  

The Island Governor has been providing an update every two days to inform the people of Saba. On Monday, March 30, Johnson called on the people not to stigmatize others and to care for their fellow human beings. “Please don’t stigmatize anyone at any time. Especially in a time when it is important to continue to stand strong together as a community.” He noted that some people were coming out of self-quarantine and that they could do so because they had complied with the requirement to isolate themselves for 14 days after returning to Saba from abroad. Up to March 31, 32 persons remained in self-quarantine. Two persons were tested as a precautionary measure. Both tests were found negative. There are no suspected cases of COVID-19 on the island.

Johnson addressed the concerns of some people about the cargo boats coming to Saba to deliver goods and people arriving in vessels. He said that the cargo crew was not suspected of having the COVID-19 virus. Nonetheless, precautionary measures have been taken and a safety protocol implemented for the cargo process. These include measures to protect persons who have to deal with the crew of the cargo boats. During cargo days, only designated persons, truck drivers, will be allowed beyond the harbor gates to pick up cargo. There is 24/7 security at the harbor to make sure that the border protection measures are adhered to.

Johnson urged the community to look out for each other. Maintaining a physical distance is part of the social distancing policy that is in place. But it is still important to keep in touch with other members of the community. “Check in on vulnerable friends, neighbors to see if they need assistance. Participate in online social activities together. Provide support for each other and take time to lift spirits when needed.”

Residents are encouraged to visit the Facebook pages of the Public Health and Community Development Department on how to stay active and to spend quality time with their family. “Let’s continue to work together as the resilient community that we are,” said Johnson.

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SMMC suspends patient visiting hours as of April 2nd

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In the interest of public health and in an effort to be proactive in minimizing the transmission of the virus, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is suspending all patient visiting hours from Thursday April 2nd, 2020 until further notice.

“Patient visiting hours were already scaled down to from 3 to 1.5 hours a day since March 16th, however with the developing COVID-19 situation at the moment, as an extra precautionary measure, we deem it best to suspend all patient visiting hours until further notice”, stated SMMC Medical Director and Chairman of the hospital’s Outbreak Management Team.

SMMC also urges the public to call the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) hotline 914 (or 542-1122, 542-1222), if they have any questions or require additional information regarding COVID-19. SMMC’s Outbreak Management Team will share information in subsequent press releases.

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THE economy opportunity of the moment

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert) - In these difficult times when we know that economic hardships have to be countered and solutions need to be found, there are realistic opportunities. There is one development model that may be the solution to contribute to three needs that are important under the current and short-term circumstances:

  • a desperate need for income when employment is not available
  • a cornerstone for diversification of an economy
  • rejuvenating or strengthening the middle class.

It may come in two steps.

The first step would be the development of ‘home industry’ or originally called ‘cottage industry’ and sometimes mentioned as ‘domestic system’. In some forms it already existed in the 15th century. A cottage industry is an industry which includes people working from their homes producing individual articles from raw materials. A cottage industry should serve a market that seeks out original, handcrafted products as opposed to mass-produced, name brand products. These can include anything from clothing (maybe novel Caribbean summer fashion) items to crafts (e.g. souvenirs to be sold to tourists and visiting guests) or decorative home furnishings and art. There as many possibilities as there is creativity, ambition, and passion.

There is an opportunity for recently unemployed persons to turn a hobby into a home business, or take a skill acquired from their previous job and go out on their own in a different setting and take self-control of their path of life and income.

One advantage of the cottage industry system is that the workers can pursue their activity at their own speed while at home. There is a simple motive for being more productive; it generates more income. What is produced in the home, can be done in cooperation with several family members. It can be done while the baby is sleeping, or grandma is watching the kids, or it can even be done by a grandma who normally would not be part of the workforce anyway. The workers don’t have to travel from home to work and they can also spend time for household tasks. There are many variations possible.

There is a hunger for foreign investment. However foreign investment also means that the profits will go abroad. Investment is usually seen as finance capital. It may be overlooked that locations already do have their own capital, human capital. Without having the human capital available, foreign investment may not be possible. It may be wise to look at things more from the human capital perspective. Not to ignore that depending on the size and geography of a territory the cottage industry gives access a rural labor force or a labor force that could not fit into business employment models. It would also fit in the concept that employment should preferably go to the local or native islanders.

Depending on what the cottage industry intends to be producing it may less depend on seasonal influences but rather focus on year-round production activities.

The second step would be to organize these cottage industry workers in a workers-cooperative or co-op. A Co-op is an independent association of persons who are voluntarily united to meet their common economic needs through a jointly owned enterprise. Cooperative businesses are typically more economic resilient than other forms of enterprise and have better changes of success and survival than start-ups of individuals. Cooperatives often have social goals which they aim to accomplish by investing a proportion of trading profits back into their communities.

A Cooperative is not just a union of the cottage workers but also of people with other skills that are needed and who would be encouraged to join (e.g. administration/accounting, marketing/sales, purchasing). When the work is done at home, the product would have to be brought to a central place of business, or marketplace. The products could be shipped to another market which could further export and inter-island trading in the region, which are also beneficial to an island economy (export-import balance). In a ‘domestic system’ travelling agents or traders would tour the home-workshops, supplying the raw materials and collecting the finished goods. This would all be part of a co-op activity.

Don’t think low of cooperatives. Ding-ding. There are 2.6 million cooperatives in the world creating over 250 million jobs. Over one billion people are members of a cooperative! The largest 300 coops in the world have a turnover of USD 2.53 trillion. Ding-dong.

Cottage industries have always played a significant role in the economies of developing countries and were an important source of employment. In the current and developing fragile socio-economic situation, developed countries will have to redevelop themselves almost as if they were developing countries. The model of developing a cottage industry combined with a co-op organization is a feasible solution that may be sustainable and have long-term benefits for an economy and its community. And now be the right time to pursue it, or at least to be explored by governments in need of finding solutions for the likely effects of recession.

About the author. Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual results and solution oriented conference for stakeholders of ‘airlift’ in the Caribbean which will be held June 16-18 on St.Maarten. Mr. Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication, and journalism. In accordance with his study of Economy in his younger years in Germany, he is authorized to carry the title of ‘State Certified Economist’.

coop

 

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Two men fined for not adhering to COVID-19 measures

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday morning March 30th about 03.00 am the patrol saw two young men acting very suspicious in the area of Le’Escargot restaurant on Front Street.

While being approached by the patrol, both men fled the scene in the direction of Back Street and jumped over a wall making their escape into the dark. The officers started a foot chase in an attempt to apprehend the two men for being suspects of attempted burglary and for violating the measures laid down by the Prime Minister Chair of the Emergency Operations center (EOC).  

After a quick search the officers located both men on the other side of the wall suffering from injuries to their knees and ankles. They were immediately arrested by the officers.  

The men who were suffering from broken legs and ankles were later treated on the scene by the paramedics and transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center. After being treated for their injuries both suspects were given a fine and released. (KPSM) 

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Curacao implements 24-hour curfew from Sunday night as 11th COVID-19 Case Confirmed

CURACAO – The Government of Curacao has implemented a curfew as of 9.00pm Sunday night, the same day the island confirmed its 11th COVID-19 case.  The curfew is in effect 24-hours a day for a two-week period.

The stricter measure is to prevent community spread of the COVID-19 disease throughout Curacao.

According to the Government of Curacao, persons holding a vital position are exempted; everyone must stay at home; and persons are not allowed to invite anybody to their home.  

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Miami Patient, Additional Restrictions Coming, Rumours and Scam Artists

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Hon. Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs gave her Friday update as it relates to COVID-19 national response activities.

The Prime Minister’s update is as follows:

People of St. Maarten, both here and abroad, I hereby address you, as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC (Emergency Operations Center), in an update for today Friday, March 27th, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and Government’s COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, mitigation and response measures.

Joint Controls

Yesterday, Thursday, March 26th, 2020, I updated you on the joint controls being executed by the Police force of St. Maarten together with their French counterparts. These controls started today, Friday, March 27, 2020. I have been asking for persons to heighten their awareness of ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the importance of practicing proper hygiene. To protect the population, closures of schools and non-essential businesses have been implemented and minimized business hours have been implemented as well. All with the intention to minimize movement. While no curfew yet exists prohibiting the movement of the population, each and every citizen is asked to STAY at home as much as possible in order to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

American Tourist Case out of Miami

The American case of the Miami resident was case number 12 on the French side, which after being admitted to the Louis Constant Fleming Medical Centre, his family arranged via his US insurance for him to be medically evacuated back home. This was supposed to be done via Grand Case Airport, however, due to technical difficulties, the plane could only land at Princess Juliana International Airport where the patient was able to be evacuated back to Florida. Though the patient was tested on French Saint Martin, it cannot be concluded that he contracted the virus on the island, as he was on a boat, which according to him had traveled all along the Caribbean in the past weeks. In doing the contact tracing, the French authorities ascertained that this case was not in contact with the local population of St. Martin/St. Maarten.

Register with the CPS – Call 914

A reminder to all those persons who have returned to the island since Friday, March 13th; you are still required to register with CPS by calling 914 or downloading the document provided for such on Government’s website page at www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus, fill it in and email to CPS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. These persons should be in self-quarantined (no symptoms, but have a travel history).

Self-Quarantine & Self-Isolation

Persons who have a family member who has traveled in the past three weeks living in their home should also be self-quarantined even if you have no symptoms. Persons who have flu-like symptoms, and no travel history, are not automatically considered suspected COVID-19 patients, but should also self-isolate at home (stay away from their family as well) and monitor their symptoms, in case they may have been exposed to someone who has traveled.

  1. Self-Isolation refers to the separation of ill patients from other persons to ensure the health safety of persons that are not ill.
  1. Self-Quarantine is for persons who may have been exposed to ill persons but are not exhibiting symptoms.

Compliance

The government, via the Tourist Bureau, has made several attempts to utilize empty hotels for quarantining or isolating persons without success. However, any hotel willing to work with the government in this regard is asked to contact the Tourist Bureau or the Health Department in order to facilitate this arrangement as soon as possible. The government continues to explore options to retrofit other buildings to be able to house quarantined as well as isolated persons who are not complying with the self-isolation agreement as has been agreed upon between the patient and CPS.

I’d like to reiterate as stated in my previous National Address on March 26, 2020, that our health care professionals and emergency service providers are tirelessly working 24 hours per day. Give them the time and space to do so, as your excessive movement can be a danger to these persons whom we expect to be able to take care of our needs, should we become seriously ill.

Rumors & Scam Artists

I’d also like to address rumors concerning services being offered on behalf of the Government. Should the government take the initiative to offer services at your home, this will be communicated to you via the Government’s official media platforms. Be aware of the scam artists that would use this opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable persons. Do not give out information to unauthorized persons.

Further Restrictions on Movement Coming

During the EOC meeting held today, March 27, 2020, with ESFs 4, 5, 6, and 9, the decision was made to increase further restrictions on the movement of persons throughout the island via a Ministerial Regulation which is being processed.

Public Health Preparations

Meetings were also held with ESFs 6 & 7. ESF 6 updated me on current cases, challenges with communication in relation to Protocols of SMMC, Ambulance and CPS. A meeting will be held with the full ESF 6 and with General Practitioners in the coming days to improve collaboration and cooperation in the interest of public health. I take this opportunity to request that all qualified Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses LPNs, and student nurses not currently working in the field who are able to assist health care workers in the various health sectors, should call CPS and register so that a pool of back up nurses can be on call to assist when needed. Further information regarding this will be made in a subsequent announcement.

Plan for the Most Vulnerable

The meeting with ESF 7 – social affairs and community development provided an update on the plan to assist the most vulnerable in our society, in advance of the expected economic and social stimulus plan being rolled out. The ESF 7 members representing, community police, community development, Court of Guardianship among others not present, confirmed the plan which includes a food basket of necessities. This is being implemented, and they were given a deadline of April 1st for execution.

Economic Impact & Social Services Assistance

Persons who may have already started feeling the negative effects of the economic downturn from COVID-19 business closures, loss of tourism-related business, etc., should call or email the Social Services Department of Government. Further information as to a hotline number and email address will be announced in a subsequent announcement as well.

On Saturday, March 28th in the afternoon, a meeting will be held with the extended members of ESF 6 in order to get a full update and input from all stakeholders in the health care sectors.

Save a Life, Stay at Home

As I conclude my address, I ask for something very simple. Save a life by staying at home. Stay at home because you matter! Do you hear me? You matter! We are resilient and hopeful people AND we will get through this period. The Emergency Operations Center ESF coordinators are all working in the best interest of you and your families.

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.

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

Corona Virus Daily Stats2 1 newly mar 27 updated

 

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UPDATE: Murder suspect remains in custody on the French side. Gendarmes arrest Simpson Bay parking lot murder suspect

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The suspect in the shooting at the that took place on Sunday March 22nd, 2020 at approximately 02.00 pm in the parking lot of Market Garden was arrested by French police on early Friday March 27th 2020, police said on Friday afternoon in an official statement. The suspect who was staying on the French side of the island Saint-Martin was arrested by Gendarmes.    

The suspect identified with initials W.J.A. remains in custody on the French side of the island. This investigation is still ongoing. 

ARCHIVE - SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – The police announced early Friday morning that the suspect involved in the murder of a scooter owner on Sunday, March 22, has been arrested by the Gendarmes on the French side of the island. Additional information will be released later today.

The St. Maarten Police Force further stated that they would like to thank the public for the information that they have provided to the Special Unit Robbery of the force who worked around the clock to solve this crime.

ARCHIVE - SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On Sunday March 22nd, 2020, a man was shot dead in broad daylight by an unknown suspect during a robbery of the victim’s scooter at the parking lot of Market Garden grocer on Welfare road.

The detectives of the Special Robbery Unit are hard at work investigating this cruel and coldblooded act, police said on Wednesday. The police have received information from various sources, of who the suspect is and where he could be hanging out.

“The leads received from the community over the last days have not materialized in getting the personal details of the suspect or the location where he should be residing. We are again requesting the public, to assist us with any info possible that can lead to the whereabouts and arrest of the suspect,” the police said in its statement on Wednesday afternoon.

The police is requesting anyone who may have information about the suspect and who may have information concerning his whereabouts to please contact the Sint Maarten Police Force at +1 721- 542 22 22 ext. 204 or 205 or the anonymous tip line at the number 9300. You can

also visit the police website at www.policesxm.sx or leave a message via the police Facebook page (Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten.

!!!!! This victim could have been your family member!!!!!

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