St. Maarten: Three healthcare workers among those tested positive for COVID-19

~ 900 test kits have arrived ~

Prime Minister and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Chairperson Silveria Jacobs disclosed during a press conference on Friday that three healthcare workers are among the 73 total cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in St. Maarten.

Jacobs did not announce the country’s latest coronavirus figures on Friday. Government was awaiting pending results of tests that had been sent to Institute Pasteur in Guadeloupe.

Public Health Department head Fenna Arnell said during the press conference that seven persons were being treated at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for COVID-19 related care. Of these, three persons are being treated at the pavilion, one in the hospitainer, and three at SMMC’s main building.

“SMMC is currently assessing and optimising the conditions at the hospitainer in order to realistically transfer all intensive care patients from SMMC to the hospitainer. Preparations are also ongoing to secure a smooth transfer of services to provide non-emergency and non-COVID-related medical care at SMMC,” said Arnell.

She also announced that government had received more than 900 test kits on Thursday, which will be used to ramp up testing in St. Maarten. “We do see the need [to ramp-up testing – Ed.], because everyone’s dream is to have the total count of exactly how many persons are positive,” said Arnell.

Arnell also said the Health Ministry’s Collective Prevention Services (CPS) is in the process of adjusting its community outreach programme, which had only tested a total of six persons from three districts. CPS began the outreach in the Sucker Garden area on April 14. The team also visited Cay Bay, and Cay Hill was visited on Saturday, April 18.

CPS believes low turnout of persons identifying with symptoms is directly related to fear of being stigmatised. Arnell said that persons calling CPS or their family doctor with symptoms will be assisted in a strictly confidential manner.

“Now that we have more tests, we are hoping with the outreach programme and with the change in strategy … we will be able to further go into getting more accurate numbers,” said Jacobs.

According to Arnell, the aim of the outreach programme is to identify all persons with symptoms associated with COVID-19, to test them and to isolate if test results are positive, conducting proper contact-tracing and quarantining persons who have been in contact with positive cases.

The Daily Herald.

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