PHILIPSBURG--A male resident, who returned to the country from New York City, USA, has been confirmed as the third COVID-19 case for Dutch St. Maarten, Prime Minister (PM) and Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs announced on Wednesday.
The number of active cases for the Dutch side now totals three: the first case is a man who returned to the country from the United Kingdom via Miami, Florida, and the second is a male student returning from New York. All three cases are at home in self-isolation.
Jacobs said case number three has been in self-isolation since returning to the country and authorities do not suspect that there will be any social spread. The person had attempted to visit the doctor, but this was not allowed. The person is being monitored. She could not say whether the person is a returning student, but indicated that many students studying in New York had returned to the country recently. The results for another seven persons could not be ascertained up to the time the PM made the announcement during the live Council of Ministers press briefing.
The PM reiterated that persons who have travelled in the past three weeks should remain in self-isolation and not put the population at risk. Persons who have travelled are also asked to register with Collective Prevention Services (CPS) at tel. 914 if they have not done so already.
“I will not be alarmed if the numbers go higher. It just means that we have a grip on the situation,” she said, noting that this way follow-ups can be done. “Do not be afraid to report this. It is not leprosy. All you have to do is stay at home. It is irresponsible to be walking around in public if you come from a country where you know this is rampant.”
She said the numbers are growing “by leaps and bounds” in countries such as Italy and the Netherlands, which recorded more than 800 cases in one day. “If this happens in St. Maarten it will be catastrophic.”
She warned that government is prepared to do a total lockdown to force the public to comply, it if has to. This is not a route government wants to take because it prefers that the public receives continued provision of essential services. “If you have travelled or [are – Ed.] in the home with someone who has travelled, stay home. Arrange for deliveries,” she said, noting that authorities have asked supermarkets and other essential services to offer delivery services so persons do not feel compelled to leave their homes.
Up to March 23, there had been 22 suspected cases of COVID-19 in Dutch St. Maarten: 12 negative cases; eight cases pending test results and two positive cases; and a total of 322 persons in self-quarantine; 57 in self-isolation. This latest positive test brings the total number of positive cases to three.
“It is a serious situation. There is no need to panic, but there is a need for us to be conscious of our own individual actions,” Jacobs noted.