~ Health Declaration was given to St. Maarten prior to berthing. ~
PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of VSA Pamela Gordon Carty assured the community of St. Maarten that there are no cases of Corona Virus (#2019nCoV,) onboard AIDA PERLA that is currently docked in St. Maarten.
Gordon Carty said all necessary procedures were followed and that persons on the ship had the flu and they were cleared medically.
The Minister said since Monday night CPS and other parties were involved in ensuring there is no threat to St. Maarten. She said that St. Maarten obtained a medical declaration from the ship that cleared the passengers. She said that four passengers are ill on the ship, two of which have stomach aches and pains while the other two have influenza symptoms.
Gordon Carty assured the public of St. Maarten that all necessary steps are taken to safeguard the population of St. Maarten, she said when decisions are taken the public health of people of St. Maarten is not being compromised.
Aida Perla, was recently not allowed to dock in St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua prior to it sailing to St. Maarten.
Attending the National address was Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, interim Minister of VSA and TEATT Pamela Gordon Carty, Ava Lista from CPS, Miguel De Weever of Economic Affairs and Leslie Richardson of Safety and Security of Port SXM.
Ava Lista ships are required to report to CPS at least 48 hours before. She said there were 4 cases that remain in isolation onboard the ship and they will not disembark. The other passengers and crew members were not in contact with anyone that has the coronavirus. Lista said that the 4 cases on board the ship do not even have symptoms of the Corona Virus.
Port Security Leslie Richardson said they followed standard procedures while they contacted CPS to ensure that a health declaration was obtained. Richardson said that they had to take extra precautions by going to shop owners and taxi drivers that the passengers are cleared. Richardson said that these precautions had to be taken because of media reports that created panic.
Miguel De Weever said the passengers were screened and that due diligence prior to letting the ship berth on St. Maarten, he assured that proper procedures were followed. He said health officials also advised the Port and the Ministry prior to taking a decision on allowing the ship to dock on St. Maarten.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said as the head of EOC she gets involved in the event of a disaster. She said that since the Corona Virus scare, she has been assured that safety and security take priority. She said that St. Maarten government will not put the country and its people at risk for money. She called on all persons to take precautions when putting information out there.
Jacobs said that when the ship approached St. Lucia there were more passengers who were ill. She called on the community to follow the advice given by CPS regarding hygiene and stay indoors in the event they have the flu symptoms.
Aida Perla was turned away from St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua prior to berthing on St. Maarten on Tuesday morning.
Cruise ship AIDA Perla allowed to dock after meeting international and local health protocols.
DCOMM:--- The cruise ship AIDA Perla was allowed to berth along the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities on Tuesday morning after the vessels maritime health declaration submitted to the Ministry of Public Health was in line with International Health Regulations (IHR) and local health sector regulations (Public Health Ordinance of Sint Maarten) and protocols.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), after receiving the maritime health declaration prior to the vessels arrival, consulted with departmental health officials and an epidemiologist regarding four documented and reported cases of persons being ill onboard the vessel with gastroenteritis and (presented with-) fever.
As part of CPSs increased surveillance activities (Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), health officials inquired about the travel history of those who are ill, on whether they had recently traveled or lived in China or had any close physical contact with a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV infection, and there was no evidence of the aforementioned. The decision taken to allow passengers and crew to disembark are based on facts and sound medical advice.
The public health of the people of Sint Maarten are a top priority of Ministry VSA, and the Government remains fully engaged on the issue of infection prevention and control of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus and will do all that is necessary to ensure the health and safety of Sint Maarteners.
Officials of the Ministry of Public Health have already held discussions with Port St. Maarten officials and representatives of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) regarding protocols that have been put in place for cruise ships such as pre-boarding measures and onboard protocols for handling infectious diseases that are also in alignment with the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The disembarkation of cruise passengers from AIDA Perla on Tuesday are based on the following guidelines: all sick persons remain quarantined as internationally recommended according to IHR; provide hand sanitizers in strategic areas of the ship and at points of disembarkation and embarkation of passengers and crew; increase and maintain preventive and sanitation measures; and increase awareness amongst the cruise passengers and crew about proper and continuous hand washing/hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette.
AIDA Perla is on a two-week Caribbean cruise after leaving La Romana, Dominican Republic on January 23. The vessel has already visited Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Guadeloupe. A number of ports did not allow the vessel to dock such as St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has stated that the Caribbean region has no confirmed cases or reports of the respiratory illness Coronavirus 2019-nCoV, and based on current information, the immediate health risk from this virus to the general public remains low.
AIDA Perla is scheduled to return to the Dominican Republic on February 6.
The cruise ship can carry 3400 passengers and 900 crew.
Ministry VSA continues to follow guidance from its regional and international partners concerning the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV as information becomes available from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). On an international level, the situation is constantly evolving.