A scene during the meeting.
~ Airlines notified via Timatic ~
PHILIPSBURG--Persons who have, in the last fourteen days of their travel, visited cities and or countries in the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, will not be allowed to transit or enter St. Maarten as travel restrictions to keep novel coronavirus COVID-19 at bay, are now in effect.
Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said in a national address late Friday in which she updated on the virus, that these travel restrictions have been communicated via Travel Information Manual Automatic Timatic, which gives notifications to airlines on restrictions for travel.
“As such, all passengers and crew members travelling to St. Maarten who have been, in the last 14 days, visiting the cities and or countries of China (People’s Republic), Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, are not allowed to transit or enter St. Maarten,” Jacobs said in her national address.
The travel restriction does not apply to nationals of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which includes the Netherlands, St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba and St. Eustatius. This also does not apply to residents of St. Maarten. She said the restriction allows for a first level of screening of passengers prior to check-in to travel to St. Maarten.
The restrictions were deemed an appropriate measure at this time, given St. Maarten’s size and capacity and in an effort to further mitigate St. Maarten’s exposure to the COVID-19 and after consultation with EOC members.
“The St. Maarten Immigration Department will be executing a second check upon arrival. They will be utilising key questions to ascertain if visitors or residents have travelled to areas within the high rates of infection within the past 14 days. Passengers identified as having travelled from these areas within 14 days, will receive a bookmark with key information on what to do in the event they could start to experience/develop symptoms associated with the COVID-19,” Jacobs said.
“Established protocols as related to cruise travel will also continue to be strictly enforced in order to safeguard safety and security of our residents, as well as maintain our good reputation as a safe and viable destination for our visitors, which is serious about the prevention, mitigation and response to the COVID-19 virus. These measures are deemed necessary even as we work to increase our capacity to effectively deal with the challenges which would arise should cases be identified.”
She said due to limited capacity at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), more options for quarantine and isolation spaces have been identified to increase capacity to be able to provide good medical services in a safe and controlled environment in advance of a potential outbreak.
Through the Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations BAK, under the Ministry of General Affairs, international assistance in the form of technical support for health officials is being arranged through the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), as well as colleagues in the kingdom. Other streams are also coming on board. “Our cooperation with French St. Martin is also ongoing and we have committed to meet once per week to update and cement any new agreements necessary to collectively mitigate the spread of this virus on our lovely island.”
In updating on the Health Ministry’s Department of Collective Prevention Services (CPS), she said trainings have continued during this week at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), for Heineken Regatta volunteers and workers; and school boards and an information session will be planned for parents in the coming weeks. The Red Cross will be providing training sessions on proper hygiene and hand-washing techniques at schools in the next week. Heineken Regatta has been inspected and is adhering to the protocols established by the Health Department. Controls will continue for the duration of the festival and will be evaluated thereafter.
“As Prime Minister, I would like to encourage our citizens and visitors to remain calm, stay informed and be prepared as countries all around the world are currently either already affected or expect to be within the near future. St. Maarten is no exception, and as such we must continue to be prepared and take all necessary measures to be ready to deal with the COVID-19 virus.”
Jacobs said government’s priority remains educating the population and ensuring protection and awareness of our front liners who are in constant contact with the public.
COVID-19 is a global health crisis, which is affecting countries around the world. “As such, St. Maarten, although, having no probable or confirmed cases as of today, March 6, 2020, is continuously assessing and addressing our levels of preparedness in order to be able to contain the spread, should a case be identified on St. Maarten.”
EOC meetings were held last week Wednesday, March 4, and Friday, March 6. “I can hereby update that there have been no new cases of COVID-19 identified on French St. Martin and that the two diagnosed patients remain in isolation at the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital. Any reports contrary to this have been deemed as incorrect.”
CPS reminds the population to step-up hand-washing, cough and sneeze etiquettes to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. The public and visitors are encouraged to follow regular updates via recognised and credible news sources. Public announcements will continue on radio stations. Digital billboards will have messages as well as the print media.
Additional information can be obtained by calling CPS’ emergency hotline number 914.