On Friday, March 27, metropolitan authorities announced that the ongoing lockdown and restrictive measures in place since Tuesday, March 17, will be extended for a two-week period due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the territory. As such, and until Wednesday, April 15, all non-essential businesses will be closed, public gatherings are banned, and individuals are only permitted to leave their homes for essential duties, such as grocery shopping and medical assistance. Those who violate the directive may face punishment.
Authorities have also implemented an International Circulation Declaration as of Monday, April 6. The Declaration is required for all travelers seeking to transit through French territories and applies to all forms of transportation.
Additionally, authorities have suspended all flights between Saint Martin and mainland France, and between Saint Martin and other French islands until April 15.
As of Wednesday, April 8, there are 31 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the French territory. Further international spread of the virus is expected.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.