Sint Maarten (Coronavirus): Silveria Jacobs, Prime Minister, addresses the population

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Inhabitants of Sint Maarten, I address you, as Prime Minister and President of the EOC (Center for Emergency Operations), in this official update concerning preparation, prevention, mitigation and intervention of COVID-19 from the government of Sint Maarten. Our priority remains to educate the population and ensure the protection and awareness of our fronts in permanent contact with the public.

COVID-19 is a global health crisis affecting countries around the world. As such, Sint Maarten, although having no probable or confirmed cases to date on March 6, 2020, continuously assesses and examines our preparedness levels so that we can contain the spread if a case is identified.

In order to further mitigate Sint Maarten's exposure to the COVID-19 virus, after consultation with EOC members, it has been determined that the implementation of travel restrictions is an appropriate measure at this time. Such travel restrictions have been communicated via TIMATIC, which informs airlines of travel restrictions.  All "passengers and crew members" traveling to Saint Martin who have visited in the past 14 days 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 Sint Maarten.

Let me be clear. This travel restriction does not apply to nationals of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which includes the Netherlands, Saint Martin, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba and Saint-Eustache. This also does not apply to residents of Sint Maarten. This allows a first level of passenger screening before check-in to get to Sint Maarten.

The Immigration Department of St. Maarten will conduct a second check upon arrival. They will use key questions to check if visitors or residents have visited areas with high infection rates in the past 14 days. Passengers identified as having traveled from these areas within 14 days will receive a bookmark containing key information on what to do in case they start to experience / develop symptoms associated with the COVID-19 virus.

Established cruise travel protocols will also continue to be strictly enforced to protect the safety and security of our residents. In addition to maintaining our good reputation as a safe and viable destination for our visitors, which is important for the prevention, mitigation and response to the COVID-19 virus. These measures are deemed necessary even if we strive to increase our capacity to respond effectively to the challenges that would arise if cases were identified.

Due to the limited capacity of our medical center, more options for quarantine and isolation spaces have been identified in order to increase the capacity to be able to provide good medical services in a safe and controlled environment before a possible epidemic .

Through the Department of BAK (Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations), under the supervision of the Ministry of General Affairs, international assistance in the form of technical support for our health officials is organized by PAHO, UNDAC, as well as our colleagues in the kingdom. Other flows also arrive on board. Our cooperation with the authorities of Saint Martin is also underway and we are committed to meeting once a week to update and cement any new agreement necessary to collectively mitigate the spread of this virus on our beautiful island.

To take stock of our department of collective prevention services: training continued last week at Princess Juliana International Airport, volunteers and workers from Heineken Regatta, school boards and an information session will be scheduled for parents in the coming weeks. The Red Cross will organize training sessions on good hygiene and hand washing techniques in schools next week.

As Prime Minister, I would like to encourage our fellow citizens and visitors to stay calm, stay informed and be prepared because countries around the world are already affected or expect to be affected in the near future. Sint Maarten is no exception, and as such, we must continue to be prepared and take all necessary steps to be ready to deal with the covid-19 virus.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS) hereby reminds the general population that we must intensify our handwashing, coughing and sneezing labels to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The general public as well as our visitors are encouraged to regularly follow the updates via recognized and credible sources of information. Public announcements will continue on all radio stations. The digital billboards will have messages as well as the print media. For more information, call the following emergency number 914 from the Collective Prevention Service (CPS).

Follow our Government Radiostation - 107.9FM. For official information, statements and news or visit the government website at www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus and our Facebook page: Government of Sint Maarten.

As Prime Minister, I wish to encourage all of us to remain determined to prepare for what will happen. Just as we prepare each year for the hurricane seasons. Knowledge is power! It is important to get informed every day. Also, make sure you have a medical kit that can support your family for at least 14 days.

_Government of Sint Maarten

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