With all the doom and gloom regarding the dreaded coronavirus, it is heartening to note how many people still turned out for the annual SXM DOET volunteer campaign (see related story). The global pandemic would have certainly been a valid reason not to show, but they still did and even braved Saturday’s rains to assist organisations that do work on behalf of society year-round and can often use a hand, even if it’s for just these two days.
Especially with such trying times ahead, these acts of kindness and solidarity will no doubt help inspire those involved to keep at it. That’s important, because their clients are often among the most vulnerable in any health but also economic crisis.
That the imitators took extra measures to reduce the risk especially regarding the elderly is reassuring. While there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases on the island except the visiting French couple isolated at Louis Constant Fleming Hospital, the suspension of all travel from North America and Europe indicates how seriously the government of St. Maarten is taking this threat.
Schools on the French side will now close after all, but – so far – they are to remain open south of the border. Some have questioned the latter, especially since public gatherings of more than 100 persons were banned and schools usually have more students than that.
However, these are divided into smaller classrooms the greater part of each weekday. Frequently cleaning and sanitising joint facilities such as bathrooms and preventing large agglomerations at the same time in limited space during breaks as well as before and after classes would nevertheless seem advisable.
One should remember that the situation is fluid and adjustments can be announced any minute. Authorities changing their minds or revising decisions is understandable as new information on the global outbreak comes in. For example, it appears transmission by persons who don’t have any symptoms may be a bigger issue than originally assumed, but to what extent is yet unclear.
Scientists around the world are going all out to find both effective treatments and vaccines for this terrible disease that has deeply impacted daily life on much of the planet. Until they do, observing the precautionary practices recommended by experts is the best way to protect both ourselves and others.