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08 Apr 2020 | 07:48 AM UTC

Sint Maarten: Authorities declare state of emergency as of April 5

Authorities declare state of emergency as of April 5 due to COVID-19; follow government directives

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SXM

Event

On Saturday, April 4, authorities announced a two-week total lockdown starting Sunday, April 5, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the territory. As such, individuals will be required to not leave their place of residence for the duration of the lockdown. Individuals who provide essential goods and services will be exempt from the restrictions. Authorities will deliver a "disaster pass" to those allowed to leave their residence for essential working purpose.

All places of worship, schools, bars, and restaurants will remain closed. Public gathering are banned.

Two gas stations will remain open across the territory to service emergency vehicles, while hospitals will remain open. Bakeries and grocery stores will also be allowed to deliver goods.

Authorities announced the deployment of additional security personnel to enforce the measures, stating those breaking the restrictions will be at risk of being arrested.

As of Wednesday, April 8, there are 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six related deaths on the territory. Further international spread of the virus is expected.

Context

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.

Advice

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.