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COVID-19 confirmed active cases now at 95. Five hospitalized and One in Isolation

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of August 10th, at 22:00, St. Maarten’s new total of confirmed cases now stands at 205.

Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring 89 people in home isolation. The Minister of Public Health Social Development and Labour (VSA) the honorable Richard Panneflek stated, “we now have ninety- five (95), active cases of persons who have contracted COVID-19.” Five patients are currently hospitalized, and one patient is isolated and being monitored. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 17.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten is 93. One hundred and fifty- six (156) people are now in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS of persons who may have been in contact with any of the active cases.

In a continued effort to control the spread of the virus, CPS has tested 482 travelers arriving at the Princess Juliana International Airport, (PJIA) and 997 people throughout the community. As the numbers of positive cases continue to increase, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

If you have been exposed to someone with the virus or experiencing flu-like symptoms, please remain at home and contact your family doctor immediately. For any questions or concerns, call CPS at emergency number 914.

Statistics show clusters are affiliated with night life, bars, night clubs, and adult entertainments.

Minister Panneflek urges all to continue to wear your masks, practice social distancing, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible, wash your hands with soap and avoid mass gatherings.

If persons do not adhere to the protocols set in place, Government will be forced to consider imposing more stringent measures.

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GHBU Masters Counselling Students to Host Suicide Prevention Awareness Webinar

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - “The mental health effects of the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic might be profound and there are suggestions that suicide rates will rise, although this is not inevitable,” stated a recent article published in The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 7, Issue 6.

The authors further state: “Suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups. Preventing suicide therefore needs urgent consideration.”

To proactively address these trends, the Counselling degree program offered at Grace Hill Bible University, St. Maarten Campus dedicated the spring semester 2020 in equipping its students to address the growing suicidal ideation among our local and international populations.

The Master’s level counselling degree program, designed and developed by counselling veteran Dr. Erna Mae Francis Cotton, the visionary of Victorious Living Foundation, further enhanced its Suicide Assessment and Prevention Course by assigning students the task of surveying a sample of our local population to gain insight as to the current mental health of our local population. The results of the surveys conducted were insightful and revealing.

As a result of the surveys, the students were alerted to the fact that greater awareness and information dissemination are necessary to address growing suicidal ideation and to prevent persons from taking their lives. Consequently, the students were assigned the task to conduct a free Suicide Prevention and Awareness webinar for the local, regional and international public, towards their final grade for this semester.

GHBU student, Minister Rosanna Simone Ageday stated: “Suicide prevention is everybody's business. The more you are enlightened, the more equipped you are to help yourself and others to overcome life’s stressors and find your purpose to live. 

“People don't kill themselves because they are weak but because they lose hope; and when hope is lost purpose dies. Understanding the many different reasons why a person may want to die gives you the ability to help that person to live.”

Minister Rosanna Simone Ageday declares, “It is the will of our Creator for us to live purposeful lives full of joy and peace of mind.  We are to teach ourselves and others how to live that abundant life through Christ.”

She further emphasized: “This semester has been a wonderful experience. I have gained wealth that money can't buy. Suicide Assessment and Prevention is for all of us. Once we have it then we can give it; especially in this time of the pandemic.”

The students have set August 24th, 2020 at 8 p.m. for the Zoom webinar: Suicide Assessment & Prevention. Canadian Bestselling author, elderly caregiver, grief counselor, Mental Health Advocate, and social entrepreneur, Dave Rogers is the invited guest speaker. The general public is invited to register for the webinar to become better aware of the signs to detect if someone’s contemplating suicide; how to better take care of themselves to avoid burn out; and how to be more aware as to how they can protect and save lives.

Enrolment for GHBU’s fall semester has also begun for the counselling program with focus on the fundamentals of grief counselling. Interested persons may inquire at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 1-721-524-8731 to register.   

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No Planned or Scheduled Lockdown Issued by Government

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Richard Panneflek hereby informs the general-public that the government has not taken a decision to issue a planned lockdown, contrary to rumors circulating within the community.

For official news and updates, please continue to monitor the Official Government of Sint Maarten Facebook page or the government's website at www.sintmaartengov.org.

For your safety, the safety of your loved ones, and our community, follow the mandatory regulations implemented in order to flatten the curve and reduce the further spread of the COVID-19 virus on St. Maarten.

The public is reminded that flattening the curve is highly dependent on the behaviors of members of the community.

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MP Ottley and others donate 63 electronic devices to students for online learning

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Omar Ottley, in collaboration with Argos, Keianna Liburd, Klass Electronics, Good Food & Mojitos, Brooks Modeling Agency (in the Netherlands), will collectively be donating 63 hand held tablets and lap tops for students in need during the upcoming school term.

The MP stated that it is no secret that St Maarten as a country is faced with what is now known as the new norm, and unfortunately distance learning is part of this norm.

The recent spike in covid 19 cases on St Maarten has forced the Minister of Education to make provision for students to participate in online classes.

MP Ottley went on to state that while online classes may seem like the safest option at this moment, the reality is that many families are unable to provide their children with the necessary devices to participate in online schooling.

MP Ottley noted that he is extremely proud of what the group of donors have accomplished in just one week. The MP personally donated 10 devices and commends everyone involved for their commitment and their contribution of the other 53 devices.

The group has received many emails from families, organizations and schools requesting assistance and while they are unable to satisfy everyone at this time, they are happy to take these positive steps in the right direction.

MP Ottley urges the community to stick together in these trying times and be each other's keeper. He also noted that this is only the beginning and the group will continue to assist the community to the best of their ability. 

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COVID-19 cases decline to 74 after retesting but 16 New Infections Added

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of August 6th, at 16:00, the Minister of Public Health Social Development and Labour (VSA) the honorable Richard Panneflek was delighted to announce that the active COVID-19 cases has decreased from 80-74 persons. The new total of confirmed cases now stands at 176.

Minister Panneflek ordered a re-test of the 80 persons that was confirmed active cases. Of the 80 persons re-tested, 22 persons have now tested negative, bringing the new total of active cases to 58, however St. Maarten has confirmed sixteen new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19) as of 16:00 today. The total number of active cases is now 74.

Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring 71 people in home isolation. Three patients are currently still hospitalized and the number of isolated patients now stands at zero. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 16.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten is 86. Eighty-eight (88) people are now in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS of persons who may have been in contact with any of the 74 active cases.

In a continued effort to control the spread of the virus, CPS has tested 312 travelers arriving at the Princess Juliana International Airport, (PJIA) and 903 people throughout the community. As the numbers of positive cases continue to increase, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

If you have been exposed to someone with the virus or experiencing flu-like symptoms, please remain at home and contact your family doctor immediately. For any questions or concerns, call CPS at emergency number 914.

Minister Panneflek urges the general public to remain vigilant and continue to wear your masks, practice social distancing, sanitize your hands as frequent as possible and wash your hands with soap, as the ultimate goal is zero cases on Sint Maarten.

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Five expert group reviewing Kingdom Law. PM Jacobs remains optimistic about a solution

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Since the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on July 10th , whereby Prime Minister Jacobs attended with her colleague Prime Ministers of Aruba and Curacao, and their Ministers Plenipotentiary regarding the liquidity support for 3rd tranche, Prime Minister Jacobs has been in constant contact with her colleague Prime Ministers of Aruba and Curacao about a plan of approach and also lobbying for a joint proposal to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, this has not always prospered as they would have desired as each country has their own challenges.

The Council of Ministers established a work group of legal experts to review the draft Kingdom Law and the enclosed documents. The group of the legal experts consisted of five persons and had a clearly defined goal to do a legal review with a focus on the counterproposal to present to the Netherlands. The Council of Ministers are awaiting the final report which will include other options for St.  Maarten.

The letter, in keeping with the related motion of Parliament, was sent to the Dutch State Secretary, R. Knops on Monday, August 3, 2020 after being approved by the Council of Ministers. The letter once again outlined the importance and willingness of St. Maarten’s Government to sit around the table and come up with an alternative proposal together that would be beneficial for both St. Maarten and our Kingdom partner.

In this letter, the different aspects that St. Maarten would like to have adjusted were highlighted, she also outlined St. Maarten’s stance on what structure the agreements that are being made should take on.

Since the last Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting and prior to sending the letter, during the past two weeks, the Prime Minister had spoken to the Dutch State Secretary Knops . In these discussions, Knops had indicated that he would be on vacation soon however, discussions on a technical level would continue.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacobs held a closed-door meeting at Parliament to share information with Parliament and dialogue the letter and its content with the Members of Parliament. The information was well-received by the Members, with some critical opinions that are important and necessary to be taken into account moving forward.

Sint Maarten is now awaiting a response to its letter from the Netherlands and State Secretary Knops in particular. Prime Minister Jacobs remains optimistic about the expected feedback from the Nethelands, so that we can proceed in the interest of the greater good of St. Maarten and its people. 

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Teo’s Superette, new mini supermarket in St. Peters. In the mold of a Colmado and Bodega

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - The district of St. Peters and surrounding neighborhoods will benefit this week from the opening of the area's first mini market with a focus on daily home essentials.

Teo's Superette is a mini-market in its truest form and in the mold of the well-known neighborhood Colmados of the Dominican Republic and Bodegas of New York city. No bigger than an average bedroom, Teo's may be mini in size, but packs a big punch in terms of daily essential inventory. It opens on Tuesday, August 4.

The brainchild of local businessman Michael "Mike" Granger, the mini market, he said, is just the first step into the food retail market but a very important one for him personally as a local businessman. "Like any business, setting up a mini-market is not easy. Retail in 2020 is definitely a challenge. The project has been in the planning since 2016. Hurricane Irma was a major setback and COVID-19 is no better. But we simply wasn't going to delay this project any longer, it was now or never," Granger.

In the past three years since hurricane Irma and in particular in the COVID-19 period, market analysis has shown that the public has most adhered to this type of business. "Nowadays families have been modernizing to the point where they no longer carry out those famous major purchases once a month. Currently, going to the market is more frequent because people are choosing to buy smaller, everyday items every so often."

In this regard a mini-market can meet the consumer's needs at any given time. "Our location also benefits our medium-to-low income area where folks either have to walk down to the main road of St. Peters to go to a supermarket or even take a bus just to get a small amount of necessities. We are situated in an area that eliminates that trek," Granger explained.

Teo's Superette is located along a very busy bus route at Soursop Road 2. It is at the same location of Granger's other business venture "MiliMari Bar & Restaurant." He explained that the bar and restaurant was partitioned to accommodate the mini market. Besides everyday essentials, patrons can also top-up their phones via TelCell and UTS and play the lotto with Caribbean Lotto. “We have some other key services planned in the near future for the convenience of the folks in the area.”

For Granger it is also a sense of pride to be involved in a market that most people have advised that locals should not be involved in, even with something as small as a mini-market. "I could not for the life of me understand why more locals wasn't involved in the supermarket business. To live in a country where locals were not involved in the most vital of industries? This didn't sit right with me and sounded like a challenge. And I have this habit of running head first into any challenge," He said.

Granger explained that the supermarket business can be very intimidating with very aggressive players in the market. "The practices we have encountered were a learning experience. You are way down on that totem pole of importance and in many cases you are treated as such. Nevertheless, we found our bearings quickly and expect to learn much more along the way," Granger said.

He continued: "We simply want to serve this community and give folks of the area and those who come to the district, the convenience of not having to go far for basic daily needs at affordable prices. We leaned heavily on the neighborhood Colmado and Bodega concepts and we hope the neighborhood will embrace us as a vital, necessary local addition."

The mini market is named after his son Mateo and the bar & restaurant after his daughters Milica and Maria. Granger, a journalist by profession, also runs as Media Cosultancy company “MiliMari Media” and recently ended 25 years of political affiliations and involvement to focus exclusively on his business ventures.

tEO SUPERETTE INS1

 

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COCI Appoints Jude Houston as New Executive Director

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Board of Directors of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI), through its president Benjamin Ortega is pleased to announce and welcome the appointment of its new Executive Director, Jude Houston.

The Board of Directors contracted consulting firm, BDO with a special task focused on the recruitments of their New director and other Critical functions noted within the COCI organizational chart. This task was fulfilled with BDO’s human resource specialist, who guided the recruitment process and assisted the board in what they labelled as a transparent process.

Although the process took much longer than expected and due to the current COVID-19 pandemic including the imposed curfew on the island, now this is the right time for COCI to improve our services and strategically strengthen the operations, Ortega said on Thursday.

Houston was chosen from among a list of qualified candidates that went through a three-phased recruitment process in an effort to ensure the selection of the best candidate for the position of Executive Director. Candidates included local as well as international professionals seeking employment at COCI.

With qualified work experiences, Houston worked with the Government of St. Maarten for the past eight years as a Senior Policy Advisor and as the acting head of the Economic Affairs Department, tasked with managing projects and processes, economic analysis, investment promotion, business development, economic monitoring, and evaluation.

Additionally, he has served as the country’s Innovation Director from 2014 under the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA). An Innovation Project funded by the 10th EDF programme that focused primarily on the business community.

Given Houston’s experience and competence, he has exhibited a deep understanding of the importance of engaging and fostering relationships on a local, regional, and international level and also an understanding of the local business community and the dynamics within the local economy. These are just some of the necessary attributes that are indeed required and are expected to propel COCI to the next level, in terms of improving its services to the Business community and the general public alike.

As the new director, Houston has as his key goals apart from the efficient operations of the Chamber and the improvement of services to the business community, to also focus on the necessary institutional framework and measures for the establishment of businesses but to also ensure there is optimal growth and development.

Houston will meet with key stakeholders within the first few months of his appointment to have the direct introduction and to foster the continuous working relationship that was set forward by previous directors and the board of COCI.

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MP Duncan Inquires about Capacity at Ministry of VSA

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With COVID-19 cases on the rise in St. Maarten, National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Solange Ludmila Duncan has sent questions to the Minister of VSA regarding the human resource capacity of the Ministry. “For departments like Collective Preventive Services (CPS) and the Department of Social Services which deliver pertinent health and aid services to the general public, I believe that it is absolutely critical that staff are not unreasonably overwhelmed and overworked,” stated the Member of Parliament.

With the onset of what may be a precursor to the so-called second wave, there is likely to be an increased strain on front line and essential workers throughout the island and within Government in particular. MP Duncan has sent questions to the Minister of VSA on the critical vacancies that exist and more importantly the need for a retraining program across Government. “A lack of personnel will negatively impact Government’s ability to perform the tasks necessary to assist our people in these dire times; whether that is in the form of testing, welfare applications or food deliveries,” noted Duncan.

MP Duncan has suggested that an internal retraining or upskilling program be established so that civil servants may have the opportunity to move fluidly from one department to another, one ministry to another, in order to provide urgent capacity and support to those essential departments that may be lacking in manpower.

“I know that there are civil servants that are ready to switch sectors and be retrained in order to serve in areas that may be more crucial during this time. Recruitment of critical staff is key however employee rotation or transfer policies should also be implemented if this is not yet the case,” concluded Duncan.

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COVID-19 Confirmed Cases Rise to 47. 200 Persons in Quarantine

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of July 29th, at 4:00PM, Sint Maarten has confirmed two new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19), according to a statement from the cabinet of the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA). The new total of confirmed cases now stands at 126.

Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring 46 people in home isolation. Minister of Public Health Social Development and Labour the honorable Richard Panneflek has stated “We now have forty-seven (47), active cases of persons who have contracted COVID-19.”

The one patient who was hospitalized has since been released and is isolated and being monitored at home.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on Sint Maarten earlier this year remains at 64. Two hundred (200) people are now in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS on persons who may have been in contact with any of the 47 active cases.

In a continued effort to control, the spread of the virus CPS has now tested 151 people at the Princess Juliana International Airport, (PJIA) and 706 people throughout the community. As the numbers continue to increase for positive cases, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

The minister urges the general public to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing your hands as frequent as possible and washing your hands with soap. These are the measures we must practice in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Minister Panneflek went on to extend his well wishes and prays that everyone made it through Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine safely.

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