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Prime Minister & Chair of the EOC Silveria Jacobs Updates on COVID-19 Developments MARCH 27, 2020.

PHILIPSBURG:---

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

2. Self-Quarantine is for persons who may have been exposed to ill persons but are not exhibiting symptoms.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


MP Marten-Heyliger: communication, cohesion is lacking.

grishamartenheyliger27032020~ Stimulus package not discussed ~

Parliamentary Faction Leader of the United People (UP) party MP Grisha Marten-Heyliger on Friday said communication and cohesive efforts by the coalition leaves a lot to be desired as St. Maarten is in a fight to keep its residents safe from the Coronavirus. She stressed that once the new Council of Ministers is sworn in, this lack of communication and cohesiveness must be remedied to yield effective governing that the people of St. Maarten expects in these uncertain and crisis-driven times. “Communication cannot be underestimated in these times when people expect answers from their representatives,” she said.

Marten-Heyliger said she is not in agreement and not satisfied with decisions being made by the EOC, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance with regards to COVID-19, in particular since coalition partners have yet to be apprised about the stimulus package that has somehow made its way into the public domain. “A stimulus package that is obviously lacking in a lot,” she said.

“Almost three years after Irma, a plan should be in place that can be put into action to counter sudden outside shocks to our economy. A round table session is necessary with our partners such as the SHTA which represents so many hotels and businesses, our taxi associations, Chamber of Commerce and the banks. Community representation should also be included so our people are heard from. This is a world crisis and we need to be ready to re-engage on the wols stage,” MP Marten-Heyliger said.

The MP said that she is particularly concerned about health care in the face of the Coronavirus. She said while the EOC consists of important players in managing infrastructure and emergency response, professional health care and advice is not presence on the EOC. “Are we not listening to doctors? Are there any doctors on the EOC? Are medical professionals being heard?” she asked. “The impression from the doctors and medical professionals I’ve spoken to is that there are still too many people in frontline service, exposed to the virus. We are acting as if we have endless resources.”

Bottom line, MP Marten-Heyliger stressed, is to “remove as many of our people out of harm's way because government cannot raise the dead. And let’s get a realistic and sound plan for economic recovery because the economy is something we can influence and control.”

She added that two coalition meetings since being sworn in, is unacceptable and that this will change once the new COM is sworn in. Additionally, the MP added that the incoming COM will also understand that they answer to Parliament and Parliament answers to the people. “Communicate with us so that we can communicate with the people. We will have 4 years to get this right so communication is key,” she stressed again.

The MP explained that a coalition meeting was held on Friday and she recommended that moving forward these meetings will be held twice a week. “We have to structure these meetings in order to have a holistic approach to the country’s economy and health care in the midst of a pandemic. People need to know that their government is planning properly and cohesively. I have said from the beginning I am not a ‘ja-knikker’. Information must flow in a timely manner in order for informed decisions to be made.”

She continued: “We’ve been in government for one-and-a-half months now. I’m not the type to boast or act like a know-it-all. I came in humble as a novice open to learn and gain experience. The reason I was quiet is that information was not forthcoming to me from any source. LIVE sessions on Facebook and interviews are conducted divulging information much to the surprise of many, and definitely without input. This is not the way.”

“I need the people of St. Maarten to know that I’m simply doing my job as an MP. If COM cannot justify why they made a particular decision, I won’t be playing politics and rubber-stamping anything. My one request to the incoming COM is that Communication should be clear and consistent. I will inform the people accordingly since they are my boss. We answer to St. Maarten,” MP Marten-Heyliger said.

 

CLICK HERE FOR STIMULUS PLAN.

Maintaining Food Safety During COVID-19.

PHILIPSBURG:---The food safety division of the Inspectorate has observed and continues to do so, violations concerning food safety requirements in establishments that are permitted to open to the public during this outbreak.

It is strongly recommended that all open buffets and self- serve condiments offered to the public be terminated without discretion immediately.

These include, but are not limited to self-serve bread service, self-serve juice, coffee stations, and ice cream. Allowing the public to access food at such close proximity and under heightened threat is not recommended and should not continue.

The inspectorate would like the public to use due diligence when shopping and request that food offered under the above-mentioned conditions pose a high risk of transfer of pathogens and microbiological matter to and from humans and should under no circumstances be consumed.

The food safety division is imposing zero-tolerance stances on any practice that can endanger the public in the above-mentioned area with the emphasis being placed on;

  • Personal hygiene.
  • Handwashing
  • Time & temperature management.
  • Cross-contamination.

What is described as zero-tolerance is the immediate stoppage/closure of operations found in violation of any of these mentioned violations, as they are potentially life-threatening under our current pandemic situation. Violators also risk a hefty fine.

As a reminder, all food handlers are required to:

  • Follow proper glove, masks and hair restraint procedures when in use.
  • All employees in contact are urged to wash hands after contact with either a customer or colleague or minimum every 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Social distancing in the preparation area must be adhered to as much as possible.
  • All contact surfaces are required to be sanitized at least every (hour) 60 minutes for non-food contact surfaces and every 30 minutes or after every use for food contact surfaces.
  • Any employee that displays flu-like symptoms must not be allowed to work in any establishment offering any food or food-related products to the public.

All establishments offering these services and requiring clarification of what is permitted please contact the inspector at Ph. 721 520 8809 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

for further information.

Public Health Measures in Supermarkets, Mini-markets and Outlets During COVID-19.

PHILIPSBURG:--- The food safety division of the Inspectorate has observed and continues to do so, violations concerning food safety requirements in establishments that are permitted to open to the public during this outbreak. The virus being able to survive in the air, on objects and clothing for various lengths of time, makes the preventive measures and follow up essential if these public gathering spots are to remain operational.

The following measures must be taken:

Entrance and traffic

  • All customers and staff including management and security should sanitize hands prior to entering the building. (Spray all customers hands with minimum 70% alcohol)
  • The maximum capacity for any operation should not exceed five (5) square meters per person including staff.
  • All doors to the entrance should remain open if not automatic.
  • Persons must be encouraged to maintain a safe distance from each other (signs & security enforced where possible.
  • Railings and counters should be wiped, sprayed or sanitized minimally every 30 minutes.

Staff and customer interactions

  • Staff must also adhere to social distancing when possible.
  • Staff should report any illness or symptoms to management and send home immediately.
  • Staff observing any customers coughing or sneezing and report to security or management immediately.
  • Staff should report any dangerous or unsafe behavior of any person staff or customer.

Staff-to-Staff interaction

  • Social distancing is also required to be followed amongst coworkers.
  • Staff should remove clothing and follow handwashing guidelines prior to the lunch break.
  • Ideally, staff should change the uniform shirt or blouse every 4 hours when in constant contact with customers i.e.; cashiers, stockers.
  • When gloves are being used ensure that they are changed and proper handwashing procedures followed.

 Cashier area

  • All cashiers should practice sanitizing their area prior to the shift and minimally every 30 minutes, ideally after every interaction.
  • When handling cash, cashiers should avoid physical contact with the other person.
  • Ensure a quick and speedy process to minimize time with customer.
  • Limit personal interactions.
  • Cashiers should wash hands every 30 minutes.
  • Cash screen/keys/pan and swipe machines must be sanitized after each use. (Wiped or sprayed.)

Aisles

  • All aisles should be clear and free of boxes to prevent the easy flow of traffic and prevent bottlenecks where persons need to be in close proximity.
  • Every hour shelves and displayed products should be dusted (sprayed with Lysol or a similar agent).
  • All doors/drawers that require human touch should be sanitized minimally every 30 minutes.
  • Prior to opening and closing, all aisles and products displayed should be dusted (sprayed)

 Coolers and Freezers

  • All doors and handles to coolers and freezers must be sanitized every 30 minutes.
  • Open display coolers sides need to be sanitized every 30 minutes.

Fresh Produce

  • Displayed fresh products area should have signs asking customers to shop visually and not touch produce and return to shelf.
  • Maintain sanitization and cleanliness.
  • Limit stock displayed to a minimum.

 Scheduling

  • All none essential staff and staff with underlying health issues should not be allowed to work and should be in self-isolation.
  • Schedules should be structured by way of shifts and groups e.g. group A works shift A. (limit physical interaction between groups and shifts)

 Personal Hygiene

  • Handwashing stations should be located within 10 meters of staff.
  • All handwashing stations should contain running water under pressure.
  • Handwashing station should contain soap, disposable paper towel and (hand sanitizer)
  • Staff is required to wash their hands every hour when not in direct contact with a customer and every 30 minutes when in contact with customers.
  • All staff is required to start a shift in clean washed clothing.
  • All staff is required to take a minimum two showers a day prior to and after every shift.
  • Staff is forbidden to use cell phones during shift.
  • Staff is forbidden to smoke during shift.
  • Jewelry should not be worn during a shift (under present conditions)
  • All personal items should be stored in safe location not readily accessible to staff i.e.; cell phones, bags purses etc.)

 Equipment

  • All public access equipment needs to be sanitized every hour.
  • Self-service items should not be offered and equipment cleaned, sanitized & covered. (Juicers & coffee stations etc.)
  • All in-use equipment should be sanitized as per the operating procedure.
  • Air conditioning filters and vents need to be cleaned and sanitized as per the operating procedure.

Shopping Carts and baskets

  • All carts and baskets are required to be washed daily prior to opening.
  • All carts and baskets need to be sanitized every 30 minutes by means of wiping the handles and dusting (spraying) the interior
  • Sanitizer wipes should be made available to customers and packer staff.

 Transportation and staff

  • All vehicles used by staff should contain sanitation wipes.
  • All door handles are to be sanitized as used.
  • All contact surfaces wiped. Steering wheel, shifter emergency brake, seat belt buckle, window handle or buttons & radio knob.
  • Staff should refrain from using public transportation (buses)

 Safety equipment use

  • Proper use of gloves is essential and requires more focus from the.
  • The proper facemasks are to be used when handling ready to eat food.
  • Gloves and proper procedures are to be used when preparing ready to eat foods.

 Sanitation

  • All public areas of any given operation are to be washed and cleaned daily prior to opening. This includes front of entrance area floors walls and receiving area.
  • All restrooms are to be cleaned and sanitized every 30 minutes during operating hours.
  • All restrooms are to be maintained with  paper towels, soap and hand sanitizer.
  • Sanitizing wipes should be made available to customers using restrooms.

Burglar arrested.

PHILIPSBURG:--- On Thursday, March 26th, 2020 about 02.00 pm, the police patrol arrested the burglar F.L on the Back street in Philipsburg. The suspect was taken into custody after burglarizing a home on the 14th of March 2020. After being detained he was brought over to the police station in Philipsburg where he being held for questioning.

 

KPSM Press Release.

 


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