PHILIPSBURG--Public Health Minister Omar Ottley on Thursday warned that with the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to increase at a rapid pace, the next step will be to either “get vaccinated, do routine safety testing or go into lock down.”
“It’s as simple as that” Ottley said in a press release last night. "COVID-19 has been around for the past year and a half. We know how it is contracted and how it spreads. Yet, we seem to ignore the safety protocols and think that the numbers will decrease on their own."
According to Ottley, while being vaccinated is a free mandate, it should be viewed as a way out of the pandemic. “The vaccine is not 100% effective against the COVID-19, but it comes extremely close at 95% effective. This means that there is only a 5% chance of you contracting the virus and even less chance of you becoming extremely ill.”
The Minister used St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) as an example, noting that in the past two months, out of all the recent hospitalisations, only two persons were fully vaccinated, and these two had underlying conditions. The Minister also went on to say; that while some may be against the vaccines, they should take precaution and do regular safety testing to ensure they protect themselves and those around them, safety testing is where persons test, not due to symptoms but as a check to know one’s status.
During the 2021 budget debate, Ottley made a presentation that illustrated the relation between the extension of night life and the increase in active COVID-19 cases. Because of this correlation and the recent rise in cases, an emergency meeting is scheduled to take place with club owners today Friday, August 6, 2021.
During this meeting, the Minister aims to establish one protocol throughout all the establishments. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure a safe environment for patrons and to avoid COVID clusters in these establishments. Once these protocols are established, violators will be penalized by way of fines or closure.
“The safety of our country is the Minister's first priority and the only we we can get through the pandemic is to work together,” it was stated in the press release. Ottley called on persons to join in the fight against COVID-19 and get vaccinated. The Minister urges those who are against the vaccine to consider getting tested at regular intervals, as this is important to avoid another lockdown.
He said “the fight is not the vaccinated against the non-vaccinated, but it should be all against COVID-19.”