~ Isolation facility and beds secured, total shutdown pending~
PHILIPSBURG:--- The EOC on Dutch St. Maarten announced on Friday that four (4) COVID-19 patients have died, two of which passed on Friday morning, so far there are 23 confirmed cases, most of which are males that are being confined at home.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and head of CPS Eva Lista De Weever have called on residents of St. Maarten to stay at home and avoid risking the lives of others.
The CPS head said her department is busy tracing to see who the infected persons have been in contact with in order to ensure those persons are tested. De Weever pleaded with the community of St. Maarten to stay at home and not go to the hospital in the event someone has symptoms. She said 914 should be called and persons with symptoms should begin self-isolation immediately.
The Prime Minister said that the total lockdown will soon be implemented on St. Maarten as the National Decree was sent to the Governor of St. Maarten and she will be announcing when the total lockdown will take place. Jacobs said people have been calling for a total lockdown and that it is coming shortly. She was when the Landsbesluit is signed off she will be announcing when the lockdown goes into effect.
The Prime Minister also warned that persons that had the privilege to receive confidential information on the patients that were tested positive COVID-19 virus have shared it on social media. Jacobs said an investigation will take place because the culprit who leaked the patients’ confidential information has breached patients’ confidentiality and also created panic within the community which she said is punishable by law and those persons will be hearing from law enforcement.
Jacobs said the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte has guaranteed St. Maarten will be receiving 12 medical beds and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be arriving on Saturday, April 4th. Jacobs said the intention is to place 6 of the beds at SMMC while the other 6 will be placed in the pavilion she said the decision on placing those beds rests with St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).
The Prime Minister also announced that St. Maarten secured a location for quarantine and isolation of patients that are not respecting the isolation guidelines. She said that persons that are a threat to the community will also be moved to the location within the coming days. Jacobs was very stern when she said that patients that are not respecting the restrictions with regards to isolation or confinement will be moved forcefully if the need arises. She said the government has the law in place to ensure and remove persons that are a threat to society.
Jacobs said that persons that are allowed on the road have been idling when they go to the supermarkets or other places that they fill in the form for, therefore the government has to implement more stringent measures since the social distancing is not being respected.
Jacobs called on everyone to beware of cyberattacks she called on government workers that are working from home to be extra careful and not compromise the systems. The Prime Minister said suspicious emails should not be opened while information should also not be shared.
BURIAL of COVID-19 PATIENTS
The Prime Minister said that COVID-19 patients that have passed away will be buried as of international guidelines. She said that those persons will either have to buried underground or cremated. Jacobs said that so far Cul de Sac cemetery no longer has underground plots for burial, therefore those persons who do not have underground burial spots in another recognized burial ground will be cremated.
Secretary-General of the Ministry of TEATT Miguel de Weever announced that food supply to St. Maarten has been guaranteed by suppliers, however, he noted that his Ministry is busy monitoring the United States and Florida that has a number of COVID-19 patients. De Weever said that the suppliers guaranteed St. Maarten that in the event of delays other shipping routes will be used therefore there is no need for hoarding and panic buying.
De Weever called on employers to monitor their employees and to ensure that sick employees do not report to work. He also called on the employees not to venture out to the workplace should they have symptoms of the COVID-19.
Chief of Police Carl John also issued a warning to persons that are not respecting the restrictions such as the curfew and travel restrictions. John said lawbreakers will be fined and risked being arrested.
The EOC called on residents to stay at home, those that are supposed to stay in isolation should follow the guidelines in order for St. Maarten to get a grip on the spread of the COVID-19. In the meantime, the Department of Communication is doing its best to share all information to all mediums while they have prepared flyers in four languages that are being distributed throughout the community.
"Prime Minister & Chair of the EOC Silveria Jacobs Public Briefing on COVID-19 Developments APRIL 3, 2020
People of St. Maarten, I come to you this afternoon as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC in a Public Briefing for today, April 3, 2020.
It was brought to my attention this morning, that sensitive information that was shared with medical health professionals was leaked to the public and shared on Facebook. Persons who are confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients along with their addresses were shared. This is quite a disappointing turn of events and a serious breach of confidentiality. The purpose of sharing this confidential information was to safeguard the health and safety of the medical professionals involved. This information was confidential and persons understood such. This matter will be thoroughly investigated and the persons involved will be hearing from the police as I have already alerted them of this serious breach of privacy.
Burial of Persons
Regarding the burial of persons who are COVID-19 positive or suspected, the families of these persons have been made aware that the international standards for dealing with deceased COVID-19 positive and suspected persons is to have them buried or cremated. Currently, St. Maarten has limited tomb spaces and no more burial plots. As a result, all COVID-19 patients can only be buried underground or cremated and at the moment there are no more burial plots at the Cul de Sac cemetery.
The population should be aware that now almost everyone is working digitally. St. Maarten is even more susceptible to cyberattacks. Therefore, persons should be cautious of suspicious emails and websites.
Persons with underlying medical issues (co-morbidities) are more at risk and should remain at home if one experiences these signs and symptoms. From the information that is available, we know that there are certain communities that need to step up prevention measures. We are working out plans to have Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and a representative from the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) go into these communities. These communities are very religious based and cultural as well.
In addition, employers need to pay better attention to their employees. Once you see your employees exhibiting signs and symptoms please send them home.
As some persons may be aware, there is a voice note going around the island, stating that there will be a shutdown. I would like to confirm that this is being planned. Due to the increasing trend of fatalities and the rising numbers of cases it is reasonable to conclude that persons who were supposed to be on quarantine and isolation have failed to take the necessary precautions and that persons who are healthy continue to be outside of their homes unnecessarily. It is obvious from the current numbers, that voluntary compliance is not optimal and therefore, further measures will be announced as soon as the decree has been signed off.
In conclusion, please always remember that even with the stacks against us, St. Maarten has always been and will always be a resilient nation. This resilience has built this country and has been inherited from our forefathers. Much like after Hurricane Luis, much like after Hurricane Irma and Maria and even through COVID-19, St. Maarten will rise again. Even though many are suffering, and these times and restraints can be overwhelming, there is hope. This hope cannot be overshadowed.
Acknowledging the significant impact of COVID-19, let us give thanks for what we do have, and let us find a way to ensure the common good of all. Protect yourself and continue to pray for St. Maarten and her people.
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.
Stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. The safety and security of our population depend on your compliance with our regulations.
God bless St. Maarten and her people as we work together; Government, community and each and every St. Maarten resident, to keep her safe.
St. Maarten Strong, always moving forward. "