Prime Minister & Chair of the EOC Silveria Jacobs Updates on COVID-19 Developments May 7, 2020
Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs hereby updates the general public for today, Thursday, May 7, 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.
Based on the latest available data provided by Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Epidemiologist Eva Lista-de Weever, for today, May 7, 2020, as of 4:00 PM, there have been no new reported COVID-19 confirmed cases. The data does, however, show a decrease in active cases by 2, which relates to 2 more persons who have recovered. Furthermore, CPS updates that all patients who were isolated at the government’s isolation facility have recovered and have returned home. CPS continues its community outreach, and will continue to test, and do contact tracing as needed to ensure that the virus is contained.
The measures undertaken are having the desired effect. However, anyone identifying with flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or CPS at 914 as soon as possible. Symptomatic persons, as well as those who may have come into contact with them, should remain in self-isolation (alone) and/or quarantine (if without symptoms) for at least 2 weeks thereafter, to ensure the virus does not spread. Such persons are not allowed to be moving around in society as this will indeed cause a second wave or continuous spread of the virus. Please see info on these topics on our government website www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus.
Since April 27th, there have been no new COVID-19 confirmed admissions to (SMMC). The number remains at five COVID-19 confirmed patients admitted to SMMC. One of the patients is in the ICU tent and four are in the Mobile Medical Pavilion (MMP). Two of the five patients have recovered however, arrangements are still being made to have them discharged and sent back home.
On Monday, May 11th, SMMC will start with gradually resuming non-emergency medical care. The plan which includes safety measures is aimed at allowing regular care to continue while safeguarding the health of patients and staff when the ‘State of Emergency’ is lifted while continuing to do their part in mitigating the further spread of COVID-19.
Today, May 7, Emergency Support Function (ESF) 6 coordinator Fenna Arnell held a meeting together with the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), CPS, St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS) and Microbiologist Radijn Steingrover to discuss the logistics for the arrival of the serology tests. During the meeting, the defining criteria for serology tests based on testing capacity was also discussed. This meeting was a follow up of the Ministerial Consultation held with the Ministers of Health within the Dutch Kingdom and RIVM yesterday, May 6, 2020.
A subsequent meeting was also held with ESF 3 coordinator Louis Brown and ESF 6 coordinator Fenna Arnell together with the management of SMMC to discuss hurricane preparedness regarding medium care at the MMP and Hospitainer located next to the medical centre. ESFs 5, 6, 7, and10 together with their respective teams are finalizing their proposal on the business guidelines and phased opening of businesses for public access. This will be officially presented to the EOC upon completion for decision making.
ESF 9, is responsible for governmental affairs. As such, all administrative and legal measures related to the public administration, which need to be taken by the government during a disaster, require advice from the ESF 9 coordinator and general affairs secretary-general Hensley Plantijn. For example, this entails requests for military support, preparing the national decree for the ‘State of Emergency,’ and the necessary adjustments needed at government administration level pertaining to government services coming online during the de-escalation process in the next few weeks.
On Tuesday, May 5, a meeting held with Prime Minister Jacobs and ESF 9 concerning the phasing in of the various government services. ESF 9 reported that their focus at this time is the continuity of government via contingency plans that are being coordinated by a sub workgroup of ESF 9. This sub workgroup called the ‘Ministerial Operations Center’ (MOC) consists of representatives of all ministries within government. Therefore, ESF 9, dealing with governmental affairs, is not just tasked with emergency disaster management, but also the recovery phase of disaster management.
Regarding the phasing in of the government services, ESF 9 coordinator Plantijn reported that the government is currently focused on the re-opening of the essential services to be offered to the public. The guidelines on proper hand hygiene, proper mask usage, and social distancing when entering the administration building will be shared and published for civil servants as well as for the public once finalized and approved. Social distancing remains a challenge in the government building, therefore, very strict measures are being worked out in order to keep both the public and civil servants safe.
“As we finalize the de-escalation schedule and the associated guidelines and measures that will be taken soon, I implore each business or organization to start making plans, protocols and policies which will ensure the safety of your employees, clients and/or customers. If the proposed guidelines have not yet been communicated to the individual sector or business, this will happen shortly. This is the only way that we can continue to see a decline in our numbers until we are COVID-19 free. When we get there, and I have faith that we will, all measures must be upheld by us all. It will take all of us working together, looking out for each other to make this work,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs.
“I also want to encourage individuals who have not yet done so, to have that conversation within their households; plan exactly what measures will you continue/start to take to ensure your family remains safe. This can be as simple as remembering to wash your hands often or showering upon re-entering your home and before interacting with members of your household. While I do not think, we should ever live in fear, being proactive will prevent the spread. This will indeed be a new normal for us. We must build new customs and be disciplined as we protect our health and livelihoods and prepare to get St. Maarten back up and running. May God Bless St. Maarten and all her people,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.