Prefab building erected about three years ago that houses the Préfecture. Photo by Robert Luckock.
MARIGOT--The Préfecture stated in a release Thursday that more restrictions probably will be implemented in the coming weeks to control the spread of COVID-19, as the current health situation and increase in cases on the island is “increasingly worrying.”
Regional health authority ARS confirms there are currently 41 active cases in French St. Martin since July 17, the same number as for the period from March 1 to May 29. Dutch St. Maarten has 144 active cases over the same period.
The very significant increase in COVID-19 cases on the island means the virus is present and circulating. One death was recorded on the French side on Sunday and two on the Dutch side in less than two weeks.
The screening campaign in partnership with the Red Cross continues. It is important to continue to get tested with or without symptoms. In this context, 653 people volunteered to be tested for a total of 2,858 tests since the beginning of the epidemic.
Measures to restrict the movement of people could be implemented to combat the epidemic. The conditions for entry to French St. Martin from Dutch St. Maarten introduced on July 31 are intended to control the epidemic. However, there are still a large number of cross-border movements without compelling professional or health reasons. Such behaviour must stop, according to the Préfecture.
As a reminder, return to the French side of the island is only possible on presentation of a certificate issued by the Préfecture or a Form C issued by the government of St. Maarten or the St. Maarten Police Force. Any offender will be reprimanded.
Inter-island movements (Guadeloupe and Martinique) may be subject to the compelling and urgent reasons only qualification and presentation of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test carried out 72 hours before departure. Gatherings of people, already limited, could be further reduced.
The implementation of these measures depends on how the number of cases evolves. Thus, the greatest vigilance must be observed by the entire population. The Préfecture reminds that use of preventive measures and the wearing of masks are essential in the fight against the virus. The objective is to avoid reaching the capacity limits of the local health care system. The health of the population is the only argument guiding its decisions.