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Ministry of Health Section CPS Closely Monitoring new flu respiratory virus 2019-nCoV

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is closely monitoring international health developments related to the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) respiratory virus in Asia.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) said on Thursday that there have been no confirmed cases or reports of the respiratory illness in the Caribbean region based on current information, and that the immediate health risk from this virus to the general public remains low.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently issued an alert to its member countries in the Americas about 2019-nCoV, recommending that they strengthen surveillance activities to detect patients with acute respiratory disease, and that health care workers have access to up to date information on the illness, be familiar with the principles and procedures for handling 2019-nCoV infections, and be trained to consult a patient’s travel history to link this information with clinical data.

Ministry VSA will continue to keep the public informed with respect to developments related to 2019-nCoV as information becomes available from PAHO and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO has already convened two meetings of Experts of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) who met on Wednesday and Thursday to determine whether 2019-nCoV is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The Committee’s role is to give advice to the WHO Director-General, who makes the final decision on the determination of a PHEIC. The Committee also provides public health advice or suggests formal temporary recommendations as appropriate.

The Committee concluded that it is still too early to declare a PHEIC, given its restrictive and binary nature. The Committee stands ready to be reconvened in approximately ten days’ time, or earlier should the Director-General deem it necessary.

2019-nCoV was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan when a cluster was initially reported on 31 December 2019 to the WHO China Country Office. On 7 January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed the identification of the new type of coronavirus.

Several cases of the virus have been reported outside China, namely in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the USA.

In connection with international travelers, the WHO says, while the cause of the pneumonia seems to be a novel coronavirus, transmission potential and modes of transmission remain unclear.

“Therefore, it would be prudent to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while travelling in or from affected areas (currently Wuhan City) by:

  • avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
  • frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment;
  • avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals;
  • travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).

For more information, you can call CPS 542-1322, 1122, 1222 or 542-1570.

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Nature Foundation Discovered Single-Use Plastics are the Biggest Beach Polluter

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation St Maarten first brand audit cleanup results revealed that the number one of littered items on St Maarten beaches are single-use plastics. Volunteers and members from SXM A.C.T.I.O.N. and the Nature Foundation spent approximately two hours collecting, sorting and recording trash based on brand and type at Mullet Bay Pond on January 11th, 2020.

SXM Beer and Hay! straws sponsored the event and rewarded the volunteers with free snacks and beers. The event was deemed a huge success as it was St. Maarten’s first ever Plastic Brand Audit, and the health of the ecosystem was enhanced by removing a total of 200 pounds of trash. 

“With over half of the plastics found being single use items, it strengthens our mission to ban single use plastics on the Dutch side even more. A ban would reduce the pollution on our beaches by over 50% resulting in a healthier, more beautiful and preserved environment for all, attracting tourism in the long term” stated Grace Hansen Reduce and Reuse intern of the Nature Foundation and organizer of the Brand Audit cleanup. 

Of the 603 items of trash removed from Mullet Bay Beach and the surrounding area, over half were plastics items (393 items). In total 48.1% of these items were even single-use materials such as cups, bags, plates, straws, cutlery, styrofoam and to go containers, all plastic items which are only used once and then disposed of.

The results show that the brand ‘Nestle’ was the number one polluting brand with more than 20 items. Through identifying the most polluting brand, the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement will be able to compare the data to other nations. This will then be brought to the Nestle corporation to encourage more sustainable packaging. 

Almost all of the Nestle products collected were plastic water bottles. These can be exchanged for reusable bottles which have a minimum life of 5 years. One study found that using a reusable water bottle rather than plastic for 5 years can save the average person $6,180. If a family of 4 switches to reusable bottles, they can save around $120,000 in 5 years.

Quite some of the single use plastic items found came from a wide variety of brands that were not directly identifiable due to the condition of these items. These plastic pollutants are completely avoidable, green alternatives, reusable materials and proper waste disposal could solve most of St Maarten’s beach pollution. 

Proper disposal of our trash is extremely important for the benefit of our environment, health and tourism. The Nature Foundation urges again that individuals make an effort to clean up the area around them after each visit and dispose their trash responsible. Grace Hansen ecplained “people often consider that their individual efforts are not enough to make an impact.

If 8 billion people had this mentality, the world would be much more polluted than it already is. It is the individuals that make the conscious effort to reduce their plastic consumption and maintain the health of the areas around them that will save the environment.” 

Some alternatives to plastic cutlery include bamboo or travel utensils. Instead of using single use each time takeout food is ordered, bring your own utensils in a travel pack or a ‘spork’ to cut back on your plastic consumption. Reusable metal straws can be used instead of plastic straws as part of a travel kit or when taking out food.

Restaurants can switch to eco-friendly alternatives including Hay! Straws, which are biodegradable straws made from wheat and distributed on St Maarten. Another easy alternative is changing protocol by only giving a straw to customers upon request. Bringing your own to go containers to restaurants and your own bags to stores, is another way to cut back on plastics entering the environment.

The Nature Foundation along with the Green Initiatives have been advocating for a single use plastic ban in Sint Maarten. A Call to Action to implement this ban has been shared and signed by thousands. Assist to ban single-use plastic by signing the petition: https://www.change.org/p/less-plastic-more-sxm?fbclid=IwAR3kFW9LLE7KB5Qp1VOYv7vU1wWvtAxvinaf_oqKcj2CprCzp6KEDUJcTxQ

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Teen Times sounds alarm over increasing use of vaping by teens

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Teen Times on Friday sounded the alarm for parents and school officials about the sudden rise in vaping among young people on St. Maarten and in particular in schools. Coordinator of Teen Times Roosje Rommy-Richardson said most parents and “definitely most schools” have no clue about the growing trend of vaping, what it is, how it is hidden from them and how often students use this in school and in recreational times. She said it is dangerous and can lead to more serious substance addiction.

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by the heated nicotine liquid (often called “juice”) of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette or e-cig), vape pen, or personal vaporizer. It’s also commonly called JUULing.

Rommy-Richardson said JUUL, a popular vape device that comes in fun flavors, looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a USB port, is especially concerning. JUUL delivers high levels of nicotine, making the product extremely addictive. “Most parents or school officials would look at it and think it’s a normal usb drive. It’s not. E-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine. The nicotine content of one JUULpod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes,” she said.

Because of these high nicotine levels, vaping is extremely addictive — and teens are already more susceptible to addiction than adults because their brains are still developing, which makes them more likely to habituate to using drugs and alcohol. Addiction can impact the ability and while vaping initially increases a student’s alertness and attention, a decrease in attention span is soon followed and long term damage might be already done.

“Some young people might not like the fact that Teen Times is pointing this out, but we also have a responsibility to their wellbeing and have always stood against these kind of practices,” she said adding that since they leave little odor, e-cigarettes are particularly easy to hide and even use discreetly in public places, including school. Teens are also vaping marijuana at increasing rates, which brings its own health risks.

Rommy-Ricardson said that while parents need to educate themselves, the onus isn’t entirely on them. Schools, she said, must own this issue as well because some students actually sell e-cigs on school premises “and school officials are none the wiser because it is so well hidden and disguised. Everybody in authority over our teens daily must be vigilant and address vaping before it leads to more serious substance addiction by our youth. Do not allow this trend to trend.”

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Jamaican artist Tessellated set to heat up the crowd during the 40th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Jamaican born recording artist Tessellated has been slated to hit the stage on Saturday, March 7, 2020, for the 40th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and promises to bring a smooth blend of Dancehall & Reggae sprinkled with Jazz, funk, hip-hop, and R&B. A musical combination that Tessellated has coined as “fusion”. He will be performing his new style for the first time in St. Maarten and is sharing the night with the Bad Boys of Reggae, music legends Inner Circle who will take the stage later in the evening.

Born in Jamaica, Tessellated was launched onto the music scene back in 2017 when his hit collaboration Pine & Ginger hit the airwaves. Since then he has been making waves across the continents, bringing his unique sounds to music lovers everywhere. Most recently Apple singled out his hit I Learnt Some Jazz Today for their AirPod promotion. The track has surpassed expectations and it brought his name to millions of households across the world. Since then he has caught the attention of several music industry chart-toppers such as Camila Cabello and Lily Allen. Since the release of the short film “Bounce” by Apple, the song I Learnt Some Jazz Today has tallied up several million plays over a few months!

Event Production Director, John Leone adds, "When I heard this new music style on an AirPod commercial it knocked my socks off. I was then approached by an agency to see if there was an interest on our part to add him to the FLO RIDA performance (the event's Headliner performing Sunday).

Coincidentally, at the same time i received a message from one of the best DJs in the Caribbean, St. Maarten's DJ Outkast, who saw him perform in Jamaica and knew this would be a great fit for the diverse audience of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. I think we are catching a tiger by the tail with this performer, Tessellated will be a big star soon!"

Festivities for the evening begin at 6 pm with the daily prize giving and transition into a night of musical acts from across the region. Local artists, and Mixmaster DJ Pauly have also been added to the schedule, making it a great blend of Caribbean vibes that should take party-goers well into the morning hours.

In addition to Tessellated, the event has confirmed several International artists for the March 2020 schedule. Grandmaster Flash will take to the main stage on Thursday, March 5th while Headliner Flo Rida will bring his chart-topping tunes to the crowd on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Organizers are still in the final stages of announcing the plethora of musical acts for the 40th edition of the event, which promises to be a grand celebration for one of the Caribbean’s beloved sailing events.

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Lifeless body discovered in Cay Hill home

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The police patrol and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the Hisap Road in Cay Hill area on Thursday January 23rd, 2020 at approximately 08.00 am where a lifeless body had been discovered in a home, police said on Thursday in a media report.

Upon arrival, the patrols were met by a family member who had discovered the body in the home, not showing any signs of life. According to the information received from the family member, the deceased had not been seen since Tuesday afternoon and they decided to visit the home this morning. In the home there were no signs of foul play.

The doctor was called to the scene where the man was pronounced dead. It was later concluded that the man died of natural causes in his home. The body of the deceased was later transported to one of the local Funeral homes.

“Due to privacy reasons we have refrained from using initials. On behalf of the Sint Maarten Police Force we would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” the police statement concludes. (KPSM)

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MINISTER IRION TO IMPLEMENT “INNOVATION FRIDAYS” IN THE INNOVATION DEPARTMENT

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Acting Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Ardwell Irion has taken the steps to implement “Innovation Fridays”, which will allow employees in the department of innovation time on a Friday to work on projects of their liking, the Cabinet of the minister said on Wednesday.

The “20 percent time” model stemmed from Google and has generated great ideas that not only optimize time but also made processes within the organization easier to navigate.

Employees have the most thorough overview and insight into their own needs and the needs of their consumers. Given the freedom to work on an idea they believe can be useful is one of the easiest ways to fill gaps in an organization.

Another benefit is the encouragement of teamwork and leadership skills as the staff is normally faced with having to use the expertise of other employees to realize their project.

“I have met with members of the innovation department and think they have great ideas. I am looking forward to their projects and reports” the minister said. “I also think this could potentially save the time and keep the department relevant in the process” he continued.

Minister Irion believes that by allowing employees to focus on and create something they believe would benefit the company, you are making sure that they are also heard and considered. Being the innovation department makes them ideal candidates.

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All 111 candidates must register donations received and submit to EC before Feb.10

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Electoral Council (EC) would like to remind all candidates who participated in the recently held parliamentary elections on January 9, 2020 that, in accordance with the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties, they are required to record all donations received, be it in cash, by check or in kind.

These records must be submitted to the Electoral Council before February 10, 2020.

The Electoral Council is hereby announcing that the candidates will be able to complete their register of donations via an online database that the Electoral Council has established for this purpose.

Within short, each candidate will receive an email with username and password and instructions on how to access the database to be able to complete the registration digitally.

The Electoral Council advises all party boards to carefully monitor donations received by their candidates and – when necessary - to assist their candidates with the accurate registration of donations.

Each candidate is required to date and sign his/her donations register and to certify that this is completed accurately and truthfully. Non-compliance with or violation of the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties is subject to penalty.

For more information on this matter, please contact the Electoral Council during its opening hours at 5439888 by email-address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Over 60 participants in the 8th Annual St. Maarten Regatta Beach Clean-Up

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - This weekend, the St. Maarten Regatta organized the 8th Annual Beach Clean-Up which took place at Kim Sha Beach. Over 60 children participated in the event, collecting over 430 kilos of garbage from the beach. The morning was filled with all kinds of activities from cleaning the beach, to a quiz from Nature Foundation about the environment and some nice beach games organized by LAB Sports.  

 This morning was kicked off with a challenge to pick up as much garbage as possible. During the challenge the participants were divided in teams of 5. They had 30 minutes to collect as much garbage as they could find. Nature Foundation provided all participants with reusable garbage bags and gloves to safely pick up the debris.  

After the horn blasted for the end of the Clean-Up Challenge, a quiz about the environment was held.  

Before the Clean-Up, Grace Hansen, from the Nature Foundation gave a short presentation about the importance of our beaches and the plastic problem. The quiz showed who of the participants had paid the most attention during the speech and answered all questions right. The winning kids received prizes donated by Intertoys. 

After the Quiz, the prizegiving of the Beach Clean-Up took place.  The winners of the Regatta Beach Clean-up, called KMAD (Kaj, Mathijs, Adriaan and Dax), were very excited about the Regatta Clean-Up and their group prize from Trisports.  

After the prizegiving, LAB Sports hosted some sports activities to close off the morning in a fun way. Children could play dodge ball, jumping rope, parkour, and tug a war. Just before everybody was about to go home Domino’s paid a surprise visit and provided all the hungry mouths with some freshly baked pizza.  

During the event participants enjoyed the water, drinks and other prizes sponsored by Fiji Water, Divico, Dive Safaris and Timeless Spirits.  

‘I really enjoyed seeing everyone so excited about the Regatta Beach Clean Up. The children and volunteers were very enthusiastic, and made sure that a lot of garbage was picked up from the beach. It is extra important to keep the island clean, not only for the people but also for the animals of Sint Maarten. The Annual Beach Clean-Up is a way for the St. Maarten Regatta to give something back to the Island. I would like to thank the children, volunteers and sponsors who made the event to a great success. Thank you!’ said Merel Abels, coordinator of this year’s Beach Clean Up.  

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English as a Second Language Level Testing at USM

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The University of St. Martin (USM) English as a Second Language (ESL) program recently had its level testing for the new students, USM announced in a press release on Tuesday.

Due to the high demand, level testing will be extended. The next available days for persons who may be interested in having their English tested will be on Wednesday, January 22nd and Thursday, January 23rd from 5:30 pm at the USM campus.

Marketing and Admissions Specialist Ms. Giterson urges anyone who is interested to visit the campus for more information at +721 542 5171 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Port St. Maarten and EY partner to Develop National Port Strategic Plan 2020+

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Management is resolute in ensuring that the destination maintains its relevance in the ever-challenging cruise tourism market, and therefore has partnered with Ernst & Young (EY) Advisory Services, a reputable and global leader in their field to develop a ‘Port St. Maarten National Development Plan 2020+’ that would cover the 2020 decade and beyond. 

During a recent kick-off session with representatives from EY on January 14, the main objective according to Port Management when it elaborated on its visions and goals with EY, is working holistically and ensuring that all stakeholders are part of the 2020+ future success of the cruise destination.

St. Maarten continues to remain at the forefront of the cruise market in the North Eastern Caribbean based on maintaining more than one million cruise passengers annually for the past 17-years – since 2002.

In 2005 the destination catered to 1,488,461 cruise passengers; and every five-year period, thereafter, has received over 1.5 million cruise passengers annually, 2010 – 1,512,618; 2015 – 1,901,617, with the exception of 2017 the year of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The destinations ‘wow’ factor needs to be addressed even though the destination ranks high in passenger experience where tours are concerned, Port St. Maarten Management pointed out.

“The private sector plays a key role in the future development of the destination’s cruise tourism sector and therefore has the power to turn things around while the role of government is to facilitate the private sector besides its responsibilities for infrastructure etc.  

“We have been told in the past that a lot of destinations had emulated the St. Maarten success besides developing their own niches.  Cruise lines have reinvented themselves by offering new products and services onboard besides setting up their own cruise destinations. 

“The destination needs to re-invent itself for the new decade and beyond, and we have partnered with EY and BDO Sint Maarten to assist with this process,” Port Management pointed out.  

BDO Sint Maarten has played an instrumental role in assisting Port St. Maarten in selecting the partner to assist with creating its high-level strategic development plan.

“We will continue to be the sparring partner on various subjects in line with the strategic agenda of Port St. Maarten,” said Paul Lungu (Managing Director BDO Sint Maarten). BDO recently announced global revenues of $9.6 billion, being represented in 167 countries and territories and employing more than 88,000 professionals.

Vernon Huerta, Partner/Advisory Services at EY Dutch Caribbean, stated that EY will assist Port St. Maarten in identifying, investigating and proposing one or more high level strategies for the further development of the cruise and cargo activities at the port.  The current planning is to have the strategic plan including an implementation roadmap ready by the end of June.   

Within the next 24-months already, Port St. Maarten will finance out of its own cashflow a small replica of the salt pond; a heritage wall; and introducing more green spaces.  This is to further enhance the guest passenger experience at the port since the cruise terminal is the last place they encounter before boarding their vessel.

Plans are being prepared to construct a permanent homeporting terminal to cater to the Fly & Cruise passenger which will enhance the experience of guests who arrive on the island to board a vessel for a one-week cruise. 

Under the build back better principle, cruise pier south will be further strengthened to handle the increase in storm activity as well as their ferocity that they inflict on infrastructure.

“Despite facing competitors, emerging new markets in addition to changes in travel trends of cruisers, destination St. Maarten still has the highest guest satisfaction rates which in the end is still the single most important business driver for the island. We need to stimulate destination ambassadors in order to maintain and grow these already high numbers of satisfaction.

“Other areas that need to be addressed are, the carrying capacity of the island which links to existing infrastructure as well as the distribution model of passengers.

“Stimulating entrepreneurship is key to enhancing the product mix by involving new and innovative entrepreneurs/people and opportunities with talent and passion. By understanding your passenger’s demographics, one is able to develop authentic experiences for guests, therefore understanding the business model of tours is essential. 

“For the future success of cruise, the strategic plan to be developed will include the stakeholders. It is very important as a destination, that we take a holistic approach in moving forward together in 2020.  We need everyone to be part of the success.

“The cruise lines have identified one trend as being destination stewardship.  With increased demand and growth in the cruise industry, comes responsibility to foster respect and cooperation with the places cruise lines visit. 

“In collaboration with local communities, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in its 2020 Cruise Industry Outlook, the cruise industry is exploring new and creative ways to manage the flow of visitors and implement the highest standards of responsible tourism.

“The five areas identified by the cruise industry in its industry outlook are: partnerships with local governments; staggered arrivals and departures; excursion diversification; shoreside power; and local passenger spending.  Destination St. Maarten has a lot to offer, but we need to be innovative and enhancing our tours and offering authentic experiences.  Together we can accomplish more than we have ever envisioned and 2020+ holds much opportunities for the local cruise sector,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday.

Additional trends according to CLIA in 2020 are: cruise and stay, 65 per cent of cruise passengers spend a few extra days at embarkation or debarkation ports; the plastic-free passenger, more than eight of 10 cruise passengers recycle and reduce using single-use plastics while traveling, and seven out of 10 cruisers forego plastic straws; generation cruise positive, more than 66 per cent of Generation X and 71 per cent of Millennials have a more positive attitude about cruising compared to two years ago; lone cruisers, cruise lines are responding to a shift in passenger demographics by offering studio cabins, single-friendly activities, eliminating single supplements and solo-lounges; micro travel, where many cruise lines offer bite-sized cruises over a three-to-five day period offering incredible itineraries and travel to exciting destinations.

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