CAY HILL--As the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been activated by government in connection with two confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in French St. Martin, management of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has activated its Outbreak Management Team (OMT) to monitor the situation on a daily basis and has informed the general public as follows:
“While there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Maarten (Dutch side), SMMC would like to reiterate the steps to take if you or a family member show any of the signs of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath,” SMMC Medical Director and OMT Chairman Dr. Felix Holiday said in a press release on Tuesday.
“In case you develop these symptoms, it is of utmost importance that you first call your family doctor instead of going there or coming to SMMC in person. You should also call your family doctor if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have travelled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.”
SMMC alluded to preventative guidelines as issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov) for COVID-19, which state that currently a vaccine is not available for COVID-19. Until a vaccine is developed, community-based interventions such as school dismissals, event cancellations, social distancing, and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals can practise everyday prevention measures like frequent hand-washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.
“Practise everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practising everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
“Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care; however, always call your family doctor or the emergency number first before showing up in person,” SMMC advised.
“Cover your coughs and sneezes in the crook of your arm (elbow). Clean frequently-touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water. If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection.
“For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Productspdf iconexternal icon. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.”
In the interest of public health and in an effort to be proactive in minimising the transmission of the virus, SMMC is asking visitors of patients currently admitted to SMMC to refrain from visiting the hospital if they are experiencing any symptoms which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Persons visiting the hospital who do not have these symptoms are urged to follow all instructions on proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
SMMC also urges the public to call the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) hotline 914, if they have any questions or require additional information regarding COVID-19. SMMC’s Outbreak Management Team said it will share information in subsequent press releases.