~ Government has no money to pay for quarantine facility.~
PHILIPSBURG:--- St. Maarten is now moving towards its recovery phases from the COVID-19 pandemic announced Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Saturday at the EOC press conference.
Jacobs said that it is now 11 days since St. Maarten registered a positive case of the COVID-19, currently, there are no patients at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), while there are two patients at the isolation facility while one person is confined at home. Jacobs said prior to the last positive case tested on March 12th St. Maarten did not have a positive case in 13 days. She said in 24 days St. Maarten had one positive case. Since the COVID -19 outbreak St. Maarten registered 77 positive cases with 15 deaths.
Jacobs said this weekend is the last weekend where the movement of people is not allowed, as CPS was busy finalizing their community outreach and testing. The Prime Minister said the outreach program will come to an end on Sunday May 24th 2020.
Prime Minister Jacobs said while St. Maarten is moving into its recovery phase she emphasizes that is will be the most crucial part of the process of flattening the curve and preventing the resurgence of the COVID-19 epidemic on St. Maarten. Jacobs called on residents and the students of St. Maarten that are returning to school to maintain proper social distancing and to also ensure the necessary hygiene measures are followed such as hand washing and hand sanitizing.
SZV patients that returned not placed in quarantine outside of their homes.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs confirmed the social media posts that stated that the patients that returned to St. Maarten were not taken to any local facility for quarantine as stated before the arrival of the patients on St. Maarten last Wednesday. Jacobs said the protocol that was in place was not followed when the patients arrived. The Prime Minister said that the patients did not arrive when it was first scheduled for. She said an investigation is currently taking place to further determine why the protocols were not executed. Jacobs said that even though the patients are not placed in a separate facility they are currently in quarantine at their homes, she said these patients were also tested prior to coming and none of them were tested positive or showed signs or symptoms.
In the meantime, 11 persons which included students that were slated to return on Friday May 22nd could not come home due to the fact the aircraft had to stop in Barbados. Students studying in the United States are currently taking summer classes as the Minister of Education Rodolphe Samuel made the necessary arrangements, students are also advised to make contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs if they need to return home.
Prime Minister Jacobs said that St. Maarten is not able to pay for the facility to quarantine persons wishing to return home, she said persons including students that are desirous to return home must be able to pay for the time they are required to be in quarantine.
Schools Reopen on Monday for examination students.
Secretary-General of the Ministry of Education Shermina Powell said schools on St. Maarten will reopen on Monday to accommodate some 200 students that will be writing their examinations. Powell said the Department of Education worked on specific guidelines that will be implemented in order for students and teachers to maintain the social distancing and hygiene measures are followed.
Powel said classrooms are now fitted with sinks while the gyms that will be used for examination purposes are now equipped with washrooms. Students will be placed six feet apart while the buses will make several trips when transporting students to and from schools.
Secretary-General Miguel de Weever also announced that a decision was taken to allow boat owners to return to the island to remove their vessels from the lagoons since the 2020 hurricane season begins on June 1st. De Weever said that persons that come in to remove their vessels have to leave the airport and go directly to their boats and leave St. Maarten waters within 24-hours.
Head of the Fire Department Clive Richardson called on residents to begin preparing for the 2020 hurricane season as so far predictions are this year hurricane season will be an active one.
Richardson also said that this week, government offices will resume working, he said as soon as these offices open up for business then the fire department will begin processing hurricane passes for businesses.