The much-feared spike in COVID-19 due to Christmas celebrations has thankfully not – at least yet – materialised, although this probably had to do with reduced testing during the festive season. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in government’s most recent weekly press briefing on Wednesday warned that testing before the holiday last took place on December 24 and then resumed Sunday, December 27, so some hike in cases was still expected. One should consider too that residents who get tested on the French side may not always be included in St. Maarten’s figures.
Nevertheless, since Thursday, December 31, when there were 22 new infections and 11 recoveries, the upward trend was reversed with respectively 2 and 11 on Friday, 4 and 13 on Saturday, 0 and 5 on Sunday, and 3 and 10 on Monday. Over that five-day period the number of active cases dropped by almost one-third with 30, from 98 to 68.
If this positive development were to continue it would certainly spell good news both in terms of public health and the tourism economy. The more the destination is seen as a low COVID-19 threat the better.
The related mandatory health insurance for visitors effective January 11 (see Monday paper) is a way to reduce the associated risk to the country and its medical sector, but also the vacationers themselves. While leisure travel to the island increases, so must efforts to ensure a maximum level of safety and security for guests as well as the local population.