SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs, in the final update for today, Saturday, May 30, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures.
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, St. Maarten, as well as much of the world, was faced with the development that was unforeseen in its magnitude, size and impact. One that we could not have ever imagined.
“On March 23, 2020, the government began closing its borders to minimize the impact and effects of the COVID-19 virus which was known to be an imported virus. However, at the end of the day, we were able to contain and crush the COVID-19 virus in a relatively short period of time of two months.
COVID-19 Cases Update
“Based on the latest available data provided by Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Epidemiologist Dr. Raissa Tjon-Kon-Fat, for yesterday, May 29, 2020, as of 5:00 PM, there are now 60 individuals in self-quarantine, and 8 individuals in self-isolation. To date, 461 persons have been tested, of which 77 were positive, 380 were negative, and three tests are still pending.
“Of the 77 positive cases, 60 have recovered. Notably, St. Maarten has had only one positive case in the last 33 days, and no new cases in the last 20 days which is almost three weeks. Presently, there are two active cases on St. Maarten.
“As of May 29th, 2020, there are no COVID-19 suspected or confirmed patients admitted to SMMC, including the Pavillion MMP and the ICU Tent. St. Maarten currently has about 900 samples of antibodies’ tests (PCR tests), and we look forward as soon as the labs have been certified this process that this will also continue and more information about this will be provided by Ministry VSA.
“In the coming days, St. Maarten is expected to be free of COVID-19. To arrive at this point, it was imperative that we were forced to take stringent and decisive measures of closing down our economy. Flights, cruise ships, vessels, etc. were no longer allowed to enter St. Maarten, for visitors nor for residents. In addition, to prevent and minimize the problem, we also had to go towards a complete lockdown of our domestic economy by not allowing businesses to be open, besides the essential services. We are slowly allowing residents and visitors to re-enter under very strict conditions.
“These measures, although not popular, were necessary in order to “bend or flatten the curve!” However, these measures proved to be successful at the end of the day. Naturally, one of the major consequences of COVID-19, throughout the world, is that our interdependence and reliance upon each other have shown how vulnerable, reliant, and dependent we are upon each other as a small economic society.
“The combination of taking Public Health Measures to protect our country and the economic impact of closing our economy, internationally and domestically, has resulted in a win for the health side of our country, but a lost for the economic side of the equation. This is and has been true for all countries going thru this dilemma currently on a worldwide bases and some are still going thru it.”
The Prime Minister reiterated in her national address for the populace to maintain a high level of hygiene in order to keep COVID-19 at bay.
Prime Minister Jacobs in her address further stated: “We will continue as a Council of Minister on these topics and hope that people moving around on St. Maarten will continue to use their good judgement in order to remain safe.
“Continue keeping yourself safe against COVID-19 by:
- Practicing proper mask usage
- Remaining socially distanced when in public: keeping 2 meters or 6 feet away from other persons
- Washing hands often with soap and water
- Covering your cough in a proper manner
- Sneezing in a napkin and disposing of it
- Limiting physical contact (handshaking, hugging, kissing)
“I believe that we have learned some key messages from this experience and naturally it has revealed some secrets to success for any future developments.
“God forbid! We have learnt that going forward we ALL, as a community, must plan and prepare for the future, and we know now we are facing the start of the hurricane season. So, preparations will be key to our survival. It is imperative that the measures and the guidelines that have been put into place for your safety continue to be followed.
“The measures of Social Distancing, Wearing of Masks (esp. when Social Distancing is not possible) and the frequent handwashing and/or sanitizing. These measures are what have brought our COVID-19 situation under control and it is the continuation of these practices and even if someone returns and is infected will keep it from spreading to others. We really would like to see that we can reopen out economy and still maintain a COVID-19 free St. Maarten.
“Government is therefore encouraging our Private Sector to take the initiative and lead to look for ways to produce locally and/or export the goods made in St. Maarten or export services. This will definitely and is urgently needed to sustain, protect and safeguard our economy and livelihood.
“As I have said in many speeches before, we must find ways to follow our dreams and find ways to create security and safety nets so never again would we find ourselves in this position. People of St. Maarten, there are more challenges ahead of us. However, the one thing that remains is that we are strong, and we are a resilient people, and as a fact we define resiliency and like always we will rise again. Let us continue this great work that we have done over the past three months and continue to stay COVID-19 free.
“I would like to remind you about this vision that I have for St. Maarten that we move from where we are to being a multi-pillar economy, allowing for each and every one of us affording maximum growth where opportunities exist that empower each and every citizen of St. Maarten with your determination and strength of mind and your actions that would allow you to progress to the next level. There is no limit to the progress that we can realize if we only work together.
“St. Maarten is a place where dreams can be achieved.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 11 Emergency Support Functions (ESF) Coordinators, their support teams, Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, the EOC Back Office, as well as His Excellency drs. Eugene B. Holiday, our Public Prosecutor M. Mol, and the Dutch Military for their unwavering commitment in shaping the decisions that enabled St. Maarten to collectively contain the spread of COVID-19.
“I’d also like to thank my support staff for their tireless efforts in ensuring that I was equipped to take all the necessary decisions and communicate it to the public. Be Blessed St. Maarten!”