~ Starting in Sucker Garden today ~
SUCKER GARDEN--Emergency Support Function 6 (ESF 6) will be going into different communities as of today, Tuesday, April 14, with a team of trained medical and community persons to visit at least 100 homes as authorities step up efforts to assess the real number of coronavirus COVID-19 cases in the country.
Prime Minister and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Chairperson Silveria Jacobs said on Monday evening that the aim is to visit 100 homes each day starting in the Sucker Garden area. The COVID-19 community outreach will be done today, Tuesday and tomorrow, Wednesday.
The efforts made today will serve as a measuring stick for the remainder of the community outreach programme to ascertain what the community spread in St. Maarten currently is. Jacobs said many persons are saying that the numbers in the country are too low and that the real numbers are not known, and this may be true.
She said St. Maarten has been unable to conduct tests as had been done in bigger countries and as it had wanted to, due to lack of local testing material and capacity. Although local labs had been given the green light to test, the most recent challenge over the past week has been the unavailability of testing kits and those that were supposed to have arrived in the country did not reach “on time.”
She said that although much effort had gone into planning the community outreach, these factors had prevented it from happening in a timely manner.
The original intention was for the mass assessment to have been conducted during the first week of lockdown. The assessment was originally scheduled for last week Thursday, Friday and Saturday, to give the EOC a “good idea” of “what is out there.”
A total of 480 test kits will be in the country and government will be able to test persons who could not be tested before. Persons with COVID-19 symptoms are urged to call tel. 914 or allow the team to visit their homes so that they can be tested.
“We can set an example for the rest of the Caribbean by following regulations. The faster we do this, the faster we can nip it in the bud. Even though the rest of the world is fighting, we would have nipped it in the bud and those who want to visit us will have to follow strict regulations,” she said.
“We are looking at a rise in cases and the aim of lockdown is to ascertain where the peak will be, how soon that will happen and then we can look at it going downwards so that we can plan to reopen businesses in St. Maarten.”
She noted that the eventual reopening will be on a heightened level with the public being aware and taking measures to remain safe.