The six intensive care beds that were delivered with a Dutch military C-17 aircraft on Sunday afternoon will be operational as of Monday, April 6, said Head of the Public Health Department Fenna Arnell during a press conference on Sunday. This will increase the capacity of health authorities to treat severe cases of coronavirus COVID-19, a disease which has already resulted in four deaths on the Dutch-side.
The beds – along with medical equipment, protective material, medication, and coronavirus testing material – were offloaded at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex in Cay Hill by personnel of the St. Maarten Fire Department, the Ambulance Department and the Royal Dutch Marine Corps on Sunday afternoon. A tent was erected to house the medical materials overnight.
The pavilion at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has been erected but is not yet operational, said Arnell. The main construction works on the facility is expected to be completed by the end of the week, she said. The pavilion is estimated to accommodate about 10 to 20 persons for care related to COVID-19.
Arnell said an isolation facility has been made for persons who cannot effectively isolate due to their conditions and those not adhering to isolation guidelines. Persons not adhering to isolation guidelines can be mandated to stay at this facility. The location of this facility has not been disclosed for privacy and safety concerns.
“The reality is that cases are only going to grow and the main factor in how to halt that spread is to stay at home … I can’t stress enough the seriousness of adhering to isolation and quarantine,” said Head of Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Lista-de Weever during the press conference.
According to her, authorities had initially hoped contact quarantined persons on the second, seventh and last day of their two-week quarantine period to determine if they had developed signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. “Due to the sheer volume of persons in quarantine, adjustments had to be made to ensure that follow-up was done at least twice in the 14-day period,” she said.
Lista-de Weever said that more than 500 persons have been in quarantine thus far.
She asked persons in quarantine to call emergency telephone number 914 if they have begun to show symptoms of COVID-19. She similarly requested quarantined persons who have not developed coronavirus symptoms but who are close to the end of the period to call 914.
When asked by reporters about the number of COVID-19 test kits in St. Maarten, Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs did not disclose a figure, saying only that a limited number of test kits are available locally.
St. Maarten is being very selective regarding who is being tested for COVID-19, said Jacobs. CPS is only testing persons who have developed signs and symptoms of the virus, said Lista-de Weever.
“Though we may have funds now to purchase [test kits – Ed.], we still have to find the locations that are shipping them out. As soon as we have received [more test kits] then we will step-up testing,” said Jacobs.
Government is in discussions with other partners in the region to “tackle our testing and surveillance strategy,” said Lista-de Weever.
The Daily Herald