Soualiga News Today Tue, 02 Jun 2020 20:15:11 -0400 en-gb C&W Communications, parent company of Flow/UTS is Confident of 2020 Hurricane Preparedness,-parent-company-of-flow-uts-is-confident-of-2020-hurricane-preparedness&Itemid=450,-parent-company-of-flow-uts-is-confident-of-2020-hurricane-preparedness&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season on June 1st naturally brings increased anxiety as Caribbean residents brace for the unpredictability of natural disasters across the region.

This year, however, tensions are even higher as Caribbean countries are battling against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. C&W Communications, a Liberty Latin America company and operator of the Flow, BTC and UTS brands in the Caribbean, wants to assure the customers and communities it serves of the comprehensive preparation measures being put in place for what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) have predicted will be a fairly active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

Already on May 17th, the first named sub-tropical storm, Arthur, jumped ahead of the official season start, though fortunately it did not gain sufficient strength to pose a threat to the region.

Inge Smidts, CEO, C&W Communications, said, “Connectivity has never been more critical in this region. Our networks are enabling millions of customers to stay connected at a time when physical distancing has become the ‘new normal’.

Our regional governments, healthcare systems and educational facilities are all relying on our services to manage their operations in a new world of e-government, virtual meetings and online learning. We too, have had to adapt our operations to embrace the challenges of COVID-19 to keep our employees safe and employed and enable our customers to stay connected.”

Smidts continued, “At the same time, we are focused on preparing our world-class networks for the 2020 hurricane season. Our teams have already begun their rigorous checks on our hurricane- tested network, which our business and residential customers rely on for their day-today operations.

“We continue to invest in important redundancy capabilities across our vast subsea network and in data centers located outside of the ‘hurricane belt’, which provide an additional layer of protection for connectivity in the region.

“The ability to stay in contact with loved ones throughout natural disasters has always been important to our customers in the region and we are very proud to play this vital role.”

Across its markets, the company has already completed a number of rigorous hurricane drills and has launched its awareness campaigns encouraging customers to be vigilant and make their preparations for the 2020 season.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 02 Jun 2020 15:55:12 -0400
Yacht Club Port de Plaisance Supports Educational Outreach Position at Nature Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Due to the generous support of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, the Nature Foundation St. Maarten received an additional staff member in March to assist in the Foundation’s daily activities and strengthen the outreach and educational programs. The new educational outreach position will be filled by Leslie Hickerson, a resident of St. Maarten with a background in Sustainable Tourism and scuba diving. The primary function of the position will be to spread outreach and education about the local environment and nature, it’s importance and the role of the Nature Foundation. 

“We are extremely grateful for the received support of Port de Plaisance Marina as the additional capacity is very needed within the Nature Foundation. With our newest staff member, we will be able to increase environmental knowledge and awareness about our natural habitats among the youth and residents of the island. In order to protect and secure the natural environment of St Maarten for the generations to come, education and awareness are crucial components. People will protect and preserve what they love and care about, therefore we are grateful to be able to increase the nature awareness on the island with the help of Port de Plaisance Marina” stated Nature Foundation’s Manager Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

The one-year position would not be possible without the generous support of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance who has always been an active partner with the Foundation. 

“The Yacht Club Port De Plaisance Operated by Marine Management & Consulting NV has always valued the hard and valuable work the Nature Foundation does for the environment and ecosystems on our Island. It goes without saying that our ecosystems and environment is our number one source and why our clients continue to visit our beautiful island and come to our shores. The Yacht Club Port De Plaisance goals and mission is to preserve and maintain our nature as best as possible and we do our best to advocate the same to our clients and visitors. We understand our business in tourism and yachting can have its challenges against nature preservation, but without proper educational outreach and programs, we will not be able to protect what we all value and enjoy most, our nature!” said Jesse Peterson, Operations Director of Yacht Club Port De Plaisance and MMC Group of companies. 

Through school visits, awareness events, press and social media releases Hickerson’s goal will be to educate students and residents about the local environment and environmental issues on St. Maarten. The Foundation is very delighted to have Ms. Hickerson as part of the team with her background and experience working on St. Maarten. As a dive instructor working on the island Hickerson has extensive knowledge of the marine park and environment and has participated in several of the Nature Foundation’s events as a volunteer. 

“I am so excited to join the Nature Foundation team as the Educational Outreach Officer. After years of working in the tourism industry in St. Maarten I have been able to see the decline in the health of our marine environment firsthand. I think the most successful long-term solution to protect our environment is to focus on educating our youth and inspiring them to change how they view our resources and sustainability,” said Hickerson. Some of the projects Hickerson will oversee as the Educational Outreach Officer are the upcoming Student Competition; Protecting St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs, the Junior Ranger Program, and this year’s Coral Reef Education Project. 

At the end of 2019 several supporters of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten came together in order to discuss sustainable finance options for the Foundation.  During the meeting, the director of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance Sint Maarten generously offered to assist in increasing capacity for the Foundation and support environmental education on the island. The Nature Foundation would like to thank the Yacht Club for their extensive and continuous support.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 02 Jun 2020 15:53:37 -0400
After the Storm weaves creative lyrics to provoke

SINT MAARTEN/ST.CROIX (by Chenzira Davis Kahina) - The cultural voice of the verses in After The Storm by Tamara Groeneveldt, is alive in a familiar way. In this debut collection, the emerging St. Martin poet offers poems, with an innovative perceptiveness, that are about preserving, nurturing, restoring, and respecting the island’s culture as existing and as known to its people.

Groeneveldt’s 56-page book unfolds against a backdrop of hurricanes Irma and Maria experiences from her home, her Grand Case neighborhood, her Caribbean island. The poems range from personal health (“Stroking a Stroke”) to family drama (“Sandwich Generation”) to disaster politics that is as much about “locals ” as it is about “who trying! / to take over borders and chambers” and “mother countries” wanting “To own and dictate it all!” (“Walls I”). 

After The Storm also includes verse with sensual sass about the elderly (“Sweetest Thing I’ve Ever Known”) and lyrical expressions of childhood and adult self-love (“Love, Peace, and Hair Grease”)—all embracing joy.

Groeneveldt’s labor in weaving lyrical creativity in some of her poems is clear. In “Beautiful Black Man” passion holds a tough poem together like a song. In other poems, such as those about challenges faced by women (“Eye Blue” and “Bleached Skin”)—the lyrical weaving wax eloquent but at times it weighs as if with halting breath.

What makes After The Storm more than just a promising volume is the cultural familiarity that the poet is very confident with (“Planting Coralitas,” “I Know St. Martin’s Culture”) and the lyrical touches that succeed without a pause or any halting. This combination blankets the strong poems, the freshly weaned verse, and those in between with a tapestry that is generally provocative, inspirational, and liberating.

The Caribbean literature context, a cultural force in itself, shows up in Groeneveldt’s collection. At face value, the volume is bundled by her publisher, House of Nehesi (HNP), in a “disaster collection” of three titles unleashed in 2019, starting with Hurricane Protocol by Lasana M. Sekou from St. Martin, then Nomad by Yvonne Weekes from Montserrat/Barbados.

This genre appears to be growing with the anthology Puerto Rico en Mi Corazón, and the more recent publications like the pamphlet Guabancex by Celia A Sorhaindo from Dominica and the award-winning books Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat from Haiti/USA and Epiphaneia by Richard Georges from Tortola, Virgin Islands.

It is in Groeneveldt’s diverse topic word-smithing that aspects of what is familiar or natural in the region’s literature is reflected. Here she juxtaposes Caribbean daily life realities, as in the opening poem “Light Out,” with post-hurricane and current disaster capitalism trauma as in the title poem “After the Storm.”

In the five “Walls” poems, the impact of this contrast is simple yet glaring. Is Groeneveldt reminding especially St. Martin people to embrace and support revolutionary actions essential for restoring “… our St. Martin identity / One island, one people, one destiny!”? Who could be listening? One year after its launch at the St. Martin Book Fair, After The Storm is about to be re-printed at HNP. 

After The Storm is available at Van Dorp bookstore and from the author at St. Martin’s Sweetness (

Editor’s Note: Chenzira Davis Kahina, PhD, is a cultural researcher and director of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center – University of the Virgin Islands.

after the storm

After The Storm, debut poetry book by Tamara Groeneveldt. The photo art on the cover is by artist Deborah Jack.



]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 02 Jun 2020 09:49:44 -0400
Tzu Chi distributes 16,394 loaves bread during lockdown,394-loaves-bread-during-lockdown&Itemid=450,394-loaves-bread-during-lockdown&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Many families facing hard times during the COVID-19 lockdown in St. Maarten over the past months, were able to at least have something to eat and feed their families thanks to the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation, which distributed 16,394 loaves of bread to residents around the country as part of its COVID-19 emergency aid. 

When the lockdown began and the foundation realized that many families were hurting as many persons had lost their jobs and many had reduced income, it sprang into action and mobilized its volunteers in the various districts to be able to assist for the emergency aid. 

The bread distribution began on April 11, during the period of total lockdown when no supermarkets had been open for residents to obtain bread and other food supplies. Volunteers, who had disaster passes and could have moved around at the time, took time out of their schedules to help the foundation take the bread to families in the various districts. 

Many families were very grateful for the donation, with many commenting that they were appreciative of the bread as they had not had any in a long time. 

In addition to residents, the foundation also ensured that essential personnel who were working hard during the lockdown to keep the community safe were also provided with bread. Loaves of fresh bread were donated daily to establishments such as St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), St. Maarten Police Force, White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation and senior citizens center amongst other essential operations.    

From Cole Bay, Cay Bay and Dutch Quarter to Sucker Garden, Pointe Blanche and St. Peters, volunteers went into just about every district making sure that bread had reached persons in need.    

As businesses began to reopen and the country began to deescalate its lockdown measures, the foundation scaled back its bread distribution which ended on Friday, May 22, and focus is now being placed on assisting the most vulnerable in the community with emergency food packages containing essential items such as rice, flour, oil and biscuits etc. 

At the end of the bread distribution, Tzu Chi had donated a total of 16,394 loaves of bread - a total of 7,366 were donated between April 11 to April 15 and another 9,028 between May 8 to May 22. 

The 16, 394 loaves of bread benefitted a total of 5,927 households (families) in the country and an estimated 21,512 residents. 

A total of 816 volunteers participated in the massive effort from the foundation. 

Many volunteers who participated in the program, were touched by the experience and expressed gratitude in being able to assist. Many lauded the foundation for its efforts in coming to the aid of so many persons in the community and helping persons with something that can maintain their sustenance during the State of Emergency.   

Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung is grateful to all the volunteers who came together to assist in the exercise and is thankful to recipients for graciously accepting the donation of breads. She is also grateful to the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation Founder Master Cheng Yen for her support of the initiative and for coming to the aid of the community of St. Maarten in such a big way.   

She said the Tzu Chi Foundation is always happy to assist the community in times of disaster and hardship and reminded that it is through the combined effort of everyone that assistance can be provided to those in need. 

Tzu Chi Foundation is sustained by love donations made by members of the community and anyone interested in supporting the efforts of the Foundation with tokens of appreciation so that it can continue its work, can do so by connecting with any volunteer or with Cheung at Tzu Chi Foundation’s office on L.B. Scott Road near Cake House Supermarket.    

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]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 01 Jun 2020 22:11:31 -0400
Leadercast Live 2020 Attendees Empowered To Overcome Challenges of Covid-19

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - "I must express my gratitude to this year's Leadercast. It was so on target. This is what we needed to prepare us for the reopening of our island. As we have had time to reflect or are still reflecting on the information and encouragement shared, today was on the button. Whatever we do must be a community effort. Trust yourself, plan, do a SWOT and go for it!"

These glowing comments were shared by Clara Curiel, an educator and manager on May 7th, 2020, after experiencing Leadercast Live virtually, in the comfort of her home.

Leadercast is the world’s largest one day leadership conference streamed live from Atlanta Georgia, to hundreds of host sites around the world, including Victorious Living Foundation ((VLF). VLF is the non-profit organization based on St. Maarten and headed by Dr. Erna Mae Francis Cotton its visionary. This is the eighth year that VLF has been hosting Leadercast, designed to create leaders who are worth following.

The theme this year was “Positive Disruption.” Leaders of all levels were called upon to shake up the status quo and drive opportunities for innovation and change. The message that echoed through each of the nine influential change-makers who graced the Leadercast stage was: “As leaders we must not fear disruption, we must embrace it. We must face it head on with determination and focus.”

Veteran educator of 54 years and forthcoming author of, In Emilio Wilson Park with Uncle Joe, Oswald Francis, said this of the conference:

"Leadercast 2020 was exceptional. I have heard of this prestigious conference before and decided to participate this year. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The presenters were dynamic; the information was practical, current and very useful. Every presenter was impressive and the nuggets received were invaluable. My favourites are Andy Stanley, Richard Montanez and Magic Johnson. I recommend that all and sundry become part of the Leadercast family."

Francis and the 35 participants who attended Leadercast Live through Victorious Living, learned powerful navigational tools for bouncing back and coping in the midst of Covid-19.

Andy Stanley—Best-Selling Author and Leadership Communicator shared the following powerful nugget which should be embraced by leaders locally, regionally, and globally.

“In times of disruption, clarity is the next best thing to certainty. People crave certainty. No matter how good you are as a leader, you cannot provide certainty. It is beyond our control. We can promise it but we can’t guarantee it. While we can’t provide certainty we can provide credibility. Information doesn’t usually create panic. Withholding information is what often creates panic. It forces people to seek information from unreliable sources; then there is misinformation, conflicting information and that’s what causes people to panic. But information from someone who has authority and access to more information helps to provide clarity; though it doesn’t remove uncertainty.”

Considering how extremely vital Leadercast is to the growth of our nation, Victorious Living will re-broadcast Leadercast on October 9th during VLF’s Leadership Summit from October 9th to 10th at the Simpson Bay Resort Conference Room. Space is limited, as persons have already begun registering for this transformational event.

For more information, or to register, persons may call 1-721-524-8731 or visit and click the registration link.

LEAD Participants Engaged at Leadercast 2019 with Gayle King INS1

Participants Engaged at Leadercast 2019 with Gayle King.



]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 28 May 2020 20:42:20 -0400

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Windward Islands Bank (WIB) continues to support clients in difficult times and has opted to automatically extend the moratorium with 3 months (June, July and August 2020) to provide immediate financial relief to our customers, with no additional charges and or interest.

During the months of June, July and August 2020 WIB will extend the moratorium on Personal Loans, Commercial Loans, Mortgage Loans & Credit Cards. This entails that the client’s monthly payment (on principal and interest) will be deferred for 3 more months (June, July & August) whereby the initial loan term will be extended with the same number of months as the additional grace period. The monthly payments (principal and interest) remain the same.

For Sint Maarten clients including commercial clients on Statia and Saba, the adjustment will be done automatically while Statia and Saba clients with personal loans, personal mortgages and personal credit cards, need to Opt-In if they want to make use of this moratorium (loans and mortgages in arrears for more than 90 consecutive days are not eligible for the moratorium).


Clients who do not wish to make use of this moratorium offer and who would like to maintain their current payment agreement, have the option to opt-out. This can be done by filling in an opt-out form via our website:, or by submitting an e-mail to: or by calling us at 546-2942.

OPT-IN STATIA & SABA (Personal Loans, Personal Mortgages and Personal Credit Cards)

Clients who wish to make use of this moratorium offer, have the option to opt-in. This can be done by filling in an opt-in form via our website or by submitting an e-mail to: or by calling us at 546-2942.

Important note: The opt-in requests for Statia and Saba is applicable for personal loans, personal mortgages and personal credit cards only and will be evaluated as per the stipulated lending guidelines of the Bank. The clients will be duly informed of the decision.  

When submitting your request, please indicate your full first name, last name, address and phone number (fixed and/or mobile) and provide the loan number of each respective loan and/or mortgage and/ or credit card number to which the opt-in is applicable to. The correct information is required for your request to be processed accordingly.

Corporate Clients for Sint Maarten, Statia and Saba that are wishing to Opt-out are requested to email

Mr. Vasco Daal at:

At Windward Islands Bank, we continue doing our utmost to assist you with your financial needs in these difficult times.

For further assistance:

For additional information please contact the Bank through our contact center: +1(721)-5462942 and/or e-mail us at For bank updates and information on our services follow us on Facebook: WIB Windward Islands Bank or visit our website

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 26 May 2020 15:24:40 -0400
K1 Britannia volunteers organize fundraiser to make needed food-packages for vulnerable families

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This coming Saturday, on May 30th, dozens of local and international artists are coming together to raise funds for K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster Relief and Crisis Team, K1 DIRECT through its online event, “Mobilize Sint Maarten Through Music.”

K1 DIRECT has been instrumental in providing much-needed food and hygiene packages for vulnerable families on Sint Maarten since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. To continue to do their work, more funds are needed.

To generate these funds, K1 DIRECT’s volunteers decided to organize an online show featuring popular artists and other surprises. Musicians, volunteers and companies are uniting to help our community. This online fundraiser will offer an evening of extraordinary music and introduce you to K1’s efforts. We are going to celebrate the beauty, variety and kindness that we have to offer as a destination,” explains Roy Van Zutphen, K1 DIRECT volunteer who is one of the leaders of the fundraiser.

K1 DIRECT, with the help of around 50 volunteers, has been making and delivering food and hygiene packages to vulnerable families in response to the corona crisis. “With the collaboration of government and donations, we have been able to deliver over 4500 food and hygiene packages so far. The need remains great, as a growing number of persons continue to struggle financially,” expresses Alan Schet, Co-Manager of K1 DIRECT.

The online show and fundraiser will premiere on K1 Britannia Foundation’s Facebook page (@K1SXM) on May 30 at 7pm. Persons can make donations by surfing to and clicking on “donate now” to donate via online bank transfer, credit card or PayPal. Donations are also possible via TelEm text message.

Roy: “Many companies are showing their support by providing amazing prizes to encourage contributions. Any contributor will be eligible to win a variety of great prizes, including: a 7-night stay at Holland House Beach Hotel or the Belair Beach Hotel, a weekend-stay at Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, a luxury catamaran trip, a zipline experience at Loterie Farm, and more.” The prize winners will be chosen and announced live on Thursday June 4th at 8:30 am on Island 92 (91.9fm, or online at

Scheduled to perform on Saturday night’s “Mobilize Sint Maarten Through Music” are Orange Grove, Guilda, Mister T, King James, DJ Outkast, Funky Horny Horns, DJ EM, DJ BigBoss, Shady Brothers, JonnyGuy, Percy Rankin, Avocado Pie, Kainos, Gianfranco & Lee, Ebony Empress, Malaika Maxwell, and many more - promising a wide variety of music and entertainment for the evening. Some artists will be releasing new music, and you will be able to see them perform in the intimate setting of their home or studio.

“We are so appreciative of all volunteers, artists and companies that are making this fundraiser happen and we hope that the show will generate a lot of positivity and donations. Every dollar will go towards K1’s efforts to ensure that every person in our community has enough to eat,” says Co-Manager of K1 DIRECT Priya Thirumur.

For more information, head to: Those interested in donating, providing prizes, or performing during the fundraiser are encouraged to send a message to K1 Britannia Foundation or call +1-721-553-8186.

K1 DIRECT COVID 19 Food Hygiene Packages INS1

K1 DIRECT COVID 19 Food Hygiene Packages Senior Distribution INS2

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]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 25 May 2020 18:45:04 -0400
COM to deliberate Dutch proposal for financial assistance with Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Council of Minister (COM) of St. Maarten has received a proposal from the Kingdom Council of Ministers on the liquidity support for St. Maarten to be able to carry out the Sint Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan (SSRP).

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra and State Secretary Raymond Knops, in a hastily called meeting with the Prime Ministers of the Dutch Caribbean via video conference, verbally outlined the intentions of the Netherlands to assist the countries in this time of crisis and beyond.

This discussion was held without documentation or specifics pertaining to the content of what would be proposed. While the Prime Ministers were given an opportunity to give feedback, it was without clear knowledge or understanding of what was on the table. We were informed that the proposal would be added to the agenda for the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on May 15, 2020.

Finally, on Thursday May 14, the official documentation was received by the Council of Ministers. In less than 24 hours, the Council of Ministers had to finalise its response in an instruction to the Minister Plenipotentiary Rene Violenus so that it could be presented in the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting of May 15, 2020.

This was less than sufficient time to prepare St. Maarten’s position, considering the grave and far reaching consequences for Parliament, civil servants, all government subsidized entities, government owned companies, unions and the people of St. Maarten in general.

“Some of the proposed conditions can be attained within the time frame and were already included in our proposal to the unions. However, a number of these conditions set out by the Dutch government are unattainable in this timeframe and do not consider our economic position, especially as we are still in the recovery stages after Hurricane Irma.

“Moreover, legislative amendments are required in order to comply with a number of these conditions which will affect a large number of the population and stakeholders whom we have not had a chance to meet and will not be able to meet before an answer is expected on Wednesday,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

Prime Minister Jacobs is scheduled to be in a Plenary Public session of Parliament today at 3:00 PM in order to bring Parliament up to speed on the proposal made by the Netherlands. This meeting will also serve as an oppotunity for the government to garner the support of Parliament on the way forward.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 19 May 2020 14:54:43 -0400
Economic Recovery Group Formed. Minister de Weever Calls on All Stakeholders to Come Together

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Telecommunications and Transport (Ministry TEATT) Ludmila de Weever, reached out to various stakeholders in the past several weeks to create an Economic Recovery Group with the aim of achieving a sustainable economic recovery as St. Maarten and the world begin to ease shutdown measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the cabinet of the minister on Sunday.

The diverse group comprises both up-and-coming and established professionals from the private and public sectors. They have offered to volunteer their expertise and collaborate with the common national goal of restoring economic activity and safeguarding the quality of life.

The intention is to maintain this group throughout the minister’s term and work closely with our partners in the hospitality, wholesale, retail, marine, and financial services sectors for the economic well-being and benefit of all St. Maarteners.

A revived economy means the return of jobs and income for the country’s workers and much needed revenue for the country’s government.

Minister De Weever emphasized that during a crisis of this magnitude, cooperation toward a common goal is necessary to achieve the best possible level of recovery.

She added that although the pandemic is an unprecedented public health and economic challenge, it can also present an opportunity to enhance St. Maarten’s tourism industry and improve the business and investment climate.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Sun, 17 May 2020 12:45:59 -0400
No agreement reached on reopening border. Public transportation inspection continues

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs provided an update to the general public on Thursday, May 14, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures.  

COVID-19 Stats

Based on the latest available data provided by Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Epidemiologist Eva Lista-de Weever, for today, May 14, 2020, as of 4:00 PM, there have been no new reported COVID-19 confirmed cases. The data does, however, show an increase of one more person in self-quarantine and two more persons in self-isolation. 

The number of persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 currently hospitalized at the Mobile Medical Pavilion has decreased to two patients. Furthermore, CPS updates that its community outreach testing campaign continues in the community on Saturdays and Sundays as businesses are closed on these days. Contact tracing as needed to ensure that the virus is contained will also continue.  

No agreement reached on reopening border

A meeting between the governments of St. Maarten and St. Martin to synchronize the de-escalation measures took place this afternoon, May 14. During the meeting, both governments were able to give a presentation on their phased de-escalation plans with a special focus on educational institutions and public transportation in regard to school busses.

Also, discussed in the meeting was the synchronization of border control measures for each phase of the economic re-opening plans as well as proposals for border re-opening after community testing has taken place.

The governments of St. Maarten and St. Martin were not able to agree moving forward on the re-opening of the internal borders until further assessments are done regarding the medical and health aspects of the COVID-19 virus and its effect on the population in terms of community spread. Once this information has been gathered, both governments will meet next week, to further ascertain the date that the border controls will be lifted. The government of St. Martin shared that they are currently evaluating their school opening to see how many students will be returning.

However, this is being done before any further discussions take place at an executive level in regard to their students who reside on St. Maarten attending school on St. Martin. Despite St. Maarten’s government’s concern for these students, there was no agreement made for such. As per the schools on St. Maarten, only schools that have indicated that they will be re-opening will open. Therefore, parents are asked to stay updated and in contact with their child’s school.

Public transportation inspection continues

Public transportation busses continue to be inspected by the Ministry of TEATT and will be given the green light to commence working on the public roads as long as they meet the safety guidelines. However, they must remain within our Dutch borders until the government has finalized discussions with their French counterparts.

“As we are re-opening our economy in phases, things may seem to be reverting to normal. However, we cannot afford to become complacent, where our safety and the safety of our loved ones are concerned. Rather, we must maintain the personal protection guidelines always. I encourage you to educate your children about the new norm and ensure that they too understand and follow the safety guidelines. Most importantly, be an example to them in demonstrating this.

“Let us remember that mitigating the spread of COVID-19 depends on us all. I commend your efforts thus far as we continue to fight the COVID-19 virus, and encourage each of you to ensure that these practices are habitual for you and your family,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs. The mitigation of the spread of the virus depends on the behaviour of the St. Maarten people. Let’s stop the spread of this virus together. Together we can! Stay blessed St. Maarten.

Corona Virus Daily Stats May 14

May 14




]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 15 May 2020 08:06:10 -0400
Ijahnya Christian, culture bearer, compiler of Anguillian dictionary, dies at 63,-culture-bearer,-compiler-of-anguillian-dictionary,-dies-at-63&Itemid=450,-culture-bearer,-compiler-of-anguillian-dictionary,-dies-at-63&Itemid=450

SAINT-MARTIN (RAMBAUD – By Lasana Sekou) - The Anguillian educator, writer, and social activist Ijahnya Christian passed away on April 27, 2020, in St. Kitts, where she was laid to rest at Springfield Cemetery on May 5, 2020. She was 63.

Ijahnya is survived by her mother, Amy Rey, and children, Psyche Young, Terek, Joanne Liburd, Wolde Christian, and Judah Christian. She also leaves to mourn her passing her siblings, other family, friends, and colleagues in St. Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla, throughout the Caribbean, and in Ethiopia, according to her cousin, Imani Nia.

Ijahnya, née Carol Patricia Rey, was born on January 31, 1957, in St. Kitts. Her early childhood was spent in St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla. She graduated from Basseterre High School in 1976 and became a RasTafarian in 1980—changing her name that year to Ijahnya (her surname Christian by way of marriage).

Ijahnya Christian obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, in 1984. She returned to Anguilla and worked as a high school teacher and guidance councilor.

Within a short time of arriving on the island, Ijahnya began mentoring Lottis Hodge on writing Hodge’s traffic life story. Ijahnya edited the narrative, which was published as Ning Troubles in 1988. In the mid-1980s, Ijahnya began compiling the material for The Dictionary of Anguillian Language (1993). This was the first ethnographic project of its kind for the island, wrote Don E. Walicek in Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro–Latin American Biography (2016).

Ijahnya collaborated “on other publications for persons within the community; and worked passionately on the positive development of Rastafarianism in Anguilla and the region,” said Anguilla Premier Victor Banks in an April 29 statement in Times Caribbean.

Ijahnya earned her master’s degree in education at the University of Southampton in 1991. By the mid-1990s, she had “established the Triple Crown Culture Yard as a venue for social and cultural expressions and development,” said Banks.

In 1994, Triple Crown Culture Yard collaborated with House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) from the neighboring island of St. Martin to realize on both islands a literary reading and workshop by visiting Caribbean author and thinker George Lamming.

In 2017, Ijahnya would contact HNP about publishing the Dictionary of Anguillian Language—Second Edition. “The initial publication has been out of print for perhaps 20 years, but I continue to get queries from individuals and institutions,” said the indomitable culture bearer. At the time of her passing, communication on the book project was ongoing with HNP.

According to The Anguillian, Ijahnya’s column, “Heartically Yours,” which discussed cultural and political matters of the island, appeared in the newspaper between 1998 and 2009.

Following Ijahnya Christian’s social activism in the 1990s, and “To further her aim of increasing both popular and scholarly attention on Anguillian identity and history, she served as Director of the Department of Youth and Culture from 2004 to 2006.” (Wikipedia).

Ijahnya Christian, the RasTafari advocate and pan-Africanist, founded the Athlyi Rogers Study Centre, a pan-African cultural space, in 2010. In his book Rastafari: A Very Short Introduction (2012), Ennis B. Edmonds wrote that Ijahnya became one of the principal organizers of global RasTafari gatherings—certainly in context as a founding member of the Caribbean Rastafari Organization.

In Wikipedia’s reference to Island Songs: A Global Repertoire (2011), edited by Godfrey Baldacchino, “Christian was a representative for the Caribbean Pan-African Network, speaking on the preservation of language, Caribbean music and heritage.”  

The titles of affection and respect, Sistren and Empress, were widely used for Ijahnya. And her embrace of social, cultural, political, and human rights activism was wide. “Ijahnya truly embodied the meaning of sisterhood,” said the Anguillian politician Pam Webster at the burial ceremony.

“She was a strong supporter of women in leadership and women on the frontline of real transformation to improve the lives of our people here, in Anguilla, in the region, and in the world,” said Webster.

A definitive high point in the work and faith of Ijahnya Christian was her move “to Shashemene, Ethiopia in 2010, to further her work in repatriating the African diaspora to the mother country, from where she continued her writing and social activism.” (Wikipedia)

In Erin C. MacLeod’s book, Visions of Zion: Ethiopians and Rastafari in the search for the promised land (2014), Ijahnya links Repatriation to the principal and laws governing the right of return of the United Nations.

Imani Nia posted on Facebook a few minutes of video of the May 5 burial ceremony for Ijahnya Christian. A COVID-19 distancing protocol was observed. The banner of ites gold and green was seen; elders from the mansions were in appearance; family, friends, and idren of the faithful spoke; Nyabingi drumming sounded; gentle voices followed the recorded song “By the Rivers of Babylon.” Rites of homegoing for an empress who had labored dutifully in the vineyards of her people.

Good journey into Zion, Ijahnya.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 14 May 2020 21:09:19 -0400

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The Virtual Mother’s Day Songfestival that was held last Sunday, May 10, 2020 to celebrate Mother’s Day was a success.

The Virtual Mother’s Day Song Festival was almost cancelled last Sunday, as a result of many technical difficulties, including internet connectivity issues due to an interruption on the sea cable between Puerto Rico and Miami over the weekend. The Mother’s Day Song Festival kicked off almost an hour later than scheduled thanks to the enormous efforts of the production team.

The Festival opened with the beautiful song “A mother’s love” by Jonesia Martimbor, better known as Sunshine, who had entered the Junior Calypso Competition at the age of 9 with this song. Although at times the show was slightly affected with freezing in connection with the internet issues, the performers did an excellent job. They all performed virtually using Zoom technology and it was streamed on Facebook.

The Virtual Mother’s Day Song Festival captured the attention of over 130 viewers who streamed live for almost two hours. During the Virtual Mother’s Day Song Festival, viewers shared it and held watch parties. Much appreciation and love were expressed in the many comments and compliments for the organizers and the performers as they sang.

Many of the singers paid tribute to the frontline workers, who are mothers, for their sacrifice and honoured the residents in the St. Martin Home. The St. Martin Home had made arrangements for its residents to view the Virtual Mother’s Day Song Festival since 3.30 pm. The Song Festival was much appreciated and there will be a replay of the Mother’s Day Song festival during the week for their residents. The St. Martin Home also received a Mother’s Day gift in the form of 10 fruits and vegetable packages from the Aging with Grace Program and the singers of the Virtual Mother’s Day Song Festival.

The Mother’s Day Song Festival, hosted by drs. Linda Richardson of the program Aging with Grace, and co-hosted by Ife Badejo, at the time of this press release attracted more than 900 views and over 600 comments.

The organizers and singers are pleased that the objectives of this First Virtual Mothers’ Day Song Festival were met. Viewers enjoyed themselves, many sang along, and spirits were lifted during the quarantine.

The organisers wish to thank the singers and the viewers for making this Mother’s Day event a great success.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 12 May 2020 19:18:34 -0400
Panneflek: Nursing the world to health

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Richard Panneflek announces that today is International Nurses Day (IND), a day that celebrates the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. Ms. Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, and was the founder of modern nursing. She is famous for changing the way nurses were viewed, raising the standards for nurses and educating them. COVID-19 has reiterated the need to continue to invest in our nurses and health care in general.

On the occasion of the International Day of the Nurse and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the World Health Organization (WHO) joins hundreds of partners worldwide to highlight the importance of nurses in the healthcare continuum and thank nurses for what they do. The theme for this year is” Nursing the World to Health”.

Let us take this time to celebrate and recognize our nurses who have been working tirelessly on the frontlines. Every day you provide essential care and save lives of many. We understand that you have been risking your lives and the lives of those closest to you while working to save others during this global pandemic. The incredible job that you are doing can never go unnoticed, as you have been working with the most vulnerable during this time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play. Without nurses and other healthcare workers, we will not win the battle against this pandemic and possible future outbreaks. As Minister of VSA you have my commitment to:

1.Continue to ensure nurses have the necessary resources to help respond to and control COVID-19 and future outbreaks including unhindered access to personal protective equipment.

2 Continue to have access to mental health support during these difficult times.

3 Have the right to get tested when and if needed.

Minister Panneflek would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all nurses today on International Nurses Day. A special thank you goes out to the nurses at the St. Maarten Medical Center, the nurses at the White and Yellow Cross, the nurses aboard the Ambulance, the nurses at CPS and the nurses volunteering at CPS with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your compassion, commitment and care to all patients you come into contact with. Please know that your selfless dedication to your craft is greatly appreciated.

I would like to leave you with an inspiring quote often spoken by nurses “" I am a nurse; I don’t stop when I am tired. I stop when I am done!"

I pray for all nurses and express words of thanks for the healing and light they bring to many.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 12 May 2020 14:25:16 -0400
Commissioner Wilson salutes Saba Nurses

SABA (THE BOTTOM) —International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, and Saba Commissioner of Public Health Rolando Wilson wants to give this special group of professionals the attention that they deserve, especially in times of the corona virus.

International nursing day, a global celebration of the nursing profession to commemorate the birthday of the founder of modern-day nursing Florence Nightingale, is an opportunity to recognize all of our nurses who play an invaluable role of delivering quality care to the sick, suffering or on the road to recovery, stated Wilson.

This year’s theme “Nurses: A Voice to lead, Nursing the world to Health,” selected by the International Council of Nurses, comes at a time when the entire world is in turmoil with the coronavirus that causes the severe COVID-19 illness, Wilson pointed out.

“I admire the leadership and role that our nurses here at home deliver to our citizens. The role of the nurses is one in which dedication is a major factor and now more than ever it is my hope that we will continue to have a strong and dedicated nursing fraternity,” the Commissioner stated.

Over the years the Saba Health Care Foundation has been investing very heavily in the overall upgrading of Saba’s nursing fraternity. “As your Commissioner I am forever grateful for this. Because of this our nurses can meet the many challenges that come before them on a daily basis.”

On this International Nurses Day, it is my hope that with the coronavirus. our nursing fraternity will continue to play a vigilant role and most of all safeguarding themselves for any eventuality as much as they protect the community at large. We are in this all together and let us remain committed to the cause,” Wilson stated.

Due to the safety measures that has been put in place because of the pandemic, Saba cannot celebrate the event as is customary this year. “But I would like to wish all of our nurses a blessed International Nurses Day and it is my hope that we do not have to encounter any major problems as a result of the current pandemic,” said the Commissioner, who noted that he was always available to hear any possible grievances to have a satisfied working fraternity.

On behalf of the Executive Council, Wilson saluted all nurses working at Saba’s two institutions and community-based health care settings. He also mentioned the health care workers, ambulance drivers, doctors and Red Cross volunteers who risk their own lives to save others.

“Government is fully aware of the strides we have made in public health and the well-being of the people, all of which could not be achieved without your service and effort. I congratulate all of you on this your special day. Continue the good work for the community of our little island. May God bless all of you,” the Commissioner concluded.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 11 May 2020 18:33:51 -0400
Winair implements 25% reduction in salaries as part of survival package

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to affect St. Maarten residents. In these times of uncertainty, we are tasked with planning our path forward, ensuring our health and well-being.

WINAIR’s continued survival as a critically important business contributing to the economic engine of St. Maarten and the region must be maintained. Throughout this pandemic WINAIR is aware of its mission to facilitate assistance by performing repatriation flights and providing relief flights to bring needed supplies and essential personnel to assist St. Maarten with combating this pandemic. By repurposing WINAIR, we ensure the safety of our critically important employees, who are on the front lines in these endeavors.

WINAIR faced the reality of conforming to the evolving NEW WORLD NORM of post COVID-19 and continues to plan and coordinate a safe and responsible startup of operations for the continuation of its vital role in the post COVID-19 environment, by working together with our stakeholders, our company, our country and the region, so that we can slowly return to some degree of normalcy. Our focus on the restoration of social, cultural and economic relations remains our priority in St. Maarten and our region.

The current shutdown of routes has resulted in a near total loss of all revenue; therefore, it is most critical for WINAIR to assess itself financially in order to remain in existence post COVID-19. To meet these challenges the company has implemented many initiatives which are essential if it is to survive and assist with the ongoing success of St. Maarten.

Conforming to this new reality WINAIR has implemented a 25% pay reduction (effective April 2020), this reduction of salary is across the board and includes the Supervisory and Executive Boards, management and staff.

Additionally, bonuses and allowances to management and staff have been discontinued and were placed on mandatory two-week vacation immediately after cessation of our operations. Our maintenance team is performing required future maintenance on WINAIR’s aircraft and equipment to avoiding more costly repairs at a later date.

In addition, WINAIR has renegotiated and/or reduced its handling costs in all 14 destinations we serve by 20-30%, redistributed our fuel costs and renegotiated aircraft leases and received discounts on key components on these leases. WINAIR is also currently in negotiations with PJIAE to find the best solutions in these cash crunching times.

The company has applied for payroll support from the government of St. Maarten and has reached out to all destinations’ Tourist departments and Government authorities to coordinate cost reductions and discounts to WINAIR and its customers.

WINAIR is currently working with all regional airports to achieve cost reductions for flights operated by the company. In other key areas, purchasing of goods and services has been limited to only those of absolute necessity during this period, and rental deferment of our sales facility on Walter Nisbett Road has been received. WINAIR will continue to seek ways to reduce operating costs for its limited restart when it is safe and prudent to do so.

WINAIR is grateful to its service providers, its customers, the St. Maarten Government and the Government of the Netherlands for their continued support, as well as our Board of Directors, the management and staff who carry this weight and continue to perform on the front lines.

Moving forward WINAIR will proceed with enhanced safety protocols which remain i.e., enhanced aircraft sanitation (performed after every flight), providing personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of its employees and reengineering its facilities to conform with ongoing safety protocol. In short, many tasks have been accomplished, our thanks and appreciation to all our partners and stakeholders who continue to work with WINAIR.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Sun, 10 May 2020 16:26:53 -0400
NO New Reported COVID-19 Confirmed Cases. Active Cases Decrease by Two

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs hereby updates the general public for today, Thursday, May 7, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures.  

NO New Reported COVID-19 Confirmed Cases. Active Cases Decrease by Two  

Based on the latest available data provided by Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Epidemiologist Eva Lista-de Weever, for today, May 7, 2020, as of 4:00 PM, there have been no new reported COVID-19 confirmed cases. The data does, however, show a decrease in active cases by 2, which relates to 2 more persons who have recovered. Furthermore, CPS updates that all patients who were isolated at the government’s isolation facility have recovered and have returned home. CPS continues its community outreach, and will continue to test, and do contact tracing as needed to ensure that the virus is contained.  

The measures undertaken are having the desired effect. However, anyone identifying with flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or CPS at 914 as soon as possible. Symptomatic persons, as well as those who may have come into contact with them, should remain in self-isolation (alone) and/or quarantine (if without symptoms) for at least 2 weeks thereafter, to ensure the virus does not spread. Such persons are not allowed to be moving around in society as this will indeed cause a second wave or continuous spread of the virus. Please see info on these topics on our government website 

Since April 27th, there have been no new COVID-19 confirmed admissions to (SMMC). The number remains at five COVID-19 confirmed patients admitted to SMMC. One of the patients is in the ICU tent and four are in the Mobile Medical Pavilion (MMP). Two of the five patients have recovered however, arrangements are still being made to have them discharged and sent back home.   

SMMC Resumes Non-Emergency Medical Care

On Monday, May 11th, SMMC will start with gradually resuming non-emergency medical care. The plan which includes safety measures is aimed at allowing regular care to continue while safeguarding the health of patients and staff when the ‘State of Emergency’ is lifted while continuing to do their part in mitigating the further spread of COVID-19. 

Serology testing discussed 

Today, May 7, Emergency Support Function (ESF) 6 coordinator Fenna Arnell held a meeting together with the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), CPS, St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS) and Microbiologist Radijn Steingrover to discuss the logistics for the arrival of the serology tests. During the meeting, the defining criteria for serology tests based on testing capacity was also discussed. This meeting was a follow up of the Ministerial Consultation held with the Ministers of Health within the Dutch Kingdom and RIVM yesterday, May 6, 2020. 

Hurricane Preparedness 

A subsequent meeting was also held with ESF 3 coordinator Louis Brown and ESF 6 coordinator Fenna Arnell together with the management of SMMC to discuss hurricane preparedness regarding medium care at the MMP and Hospitainer located next to the medical centre. ESFs 5, 6, 7, and10 together with their respective teams are finalizing their proposal on the business guidelines and phased opening of businesses for public access. This will be officially presented to the EOC upon completion for decision making.   

Phasing in of Government Services 

ESF 9, is responsible for governmental affairs. As such, all administrative and legal measures related to the public administration, which need to be taken by the government during a disaster, require advice from the ESF 9 coordinator and general affairs secretary-general Hensley Plantijn. For example, this entails requests for military support, preparing the national decree for the ‘State of Emergency,’ and the necessary adjustments needed at government administration level pertaining to government services coming online during the de-escalation process in the next few weeks.  

On Tuesday, May 5, a meeting held with Prime Minister Jacobs and ESF 9 concerning the phasing in of the various government services. ESF 9 reported that their focus at this time is the continuity of government via contingency plans that are being coordinated by a sub workgroup of ESF 9. This sub workgroup called the ‘Ministerial Operations Center’ (MOC) consists of representatives of all ministries within government. Therefore, ESF 9, dealing with governmental affairs, is not just tasked with emergency disaster management, but also the recovery phase of disaster management. 

Regarding the phasing in of the government services, ESF 9 coordinator Plantijn reported that the government is currently focused on the re-opening of the essential services to be offered to the public. The guidelines on proper hand hygiene, proper mask usage, and social distancing when entering the administration building will be shared and published for civil servants as well as for the public once finalized and approved. Social distancing remains a challenge in the government building, therefore, very strict measures are being worked out in order to keep both the public and civil servants safe.  

“As we finalize the de-escalation schedule and the associated guidelines and measures that will be taken soon, I implore each business or organization to start making plans, protocols and policies which will ensure the safety of your employees, clients and/or customers. If the proposed guidelines have not yet been communicated to the individual sector or business, this will happen shortly. This is the only way that we can continue to see a decline in our numbers until we are COVID-19 free. When we get there, and I have faith that we will, all measures must be upheld by us all. It will take all of us working together, looking out for each other to make this work,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs. 

“I also want to encourage individuals who have not yet done so, to have that conversation within their households; plan exactly what measures will you continue/start to take to ensure your family remains safe. This can be as simple as remembering to wash your hands often or showering upon re-entering your home and before interacting with members of your household. While I do not think, we should ever live in fear, being proactive will prevent the spread. This will indeed be a new normal for us. We must build new customs and be disciplined as we protect our health and livelihoods and prepare to get St. Maarten back up and running. May God Bless St. Maarten and all her people,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs. 

Corona Virus Daily Stats May 7

Corona Virus Daily Stats May 7 Graph

Cumulative Curve


Coronavirus Disease COVID 19 Monitoring Dashboard

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 07 May 2020 00:17:20 -0400
NAGICO supports MHF Initiatives by providing PPE

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - In its continuing efforts to assist frontline teams on St. Maarten during the current COVID-19 pandemic, NAGICO Insurances has taken steps to ensure the adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Mental Health Foundation.

“We are happy to assist the Mental Health Foundation in getting the gear they need, because we know that they too carry out an important function,” stated NAGICO’s Marketing Manager, Lisa Brown. “People’s state of mind and mental health is important, and we need to ensure it is given the level of priority that it deserves. These professionals can help prevent issues and help people learn how to effectively manage emotional and mental stress as well as recognize signs in ourselves, our children and family”.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the masks, gowns, gloves, and other equipment that Healthcare employees rely on to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others.

This handover of personal protective equipment is an example of the strong partnership between NAGICO Insurances and the Mental Health Foundation.

“These critical supplies will help support our frontline and healthcare employees as we assist the government with its response to COVID-19. I would like to express my appreciation to NAGICO Insurances for funding these much-needed personal protective equipment to the healthcare employees at the Mental Health Foundation,” stated MHF executive assistant Cyrille Brooks.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 07 May 2020 18:22:28 -0400
SMMC welcomes volunteer doctors back home

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is temporarily receiving assistance from two medical doctors who are very familiar with the island, Dr. Kim Verschueren, who was born and raised on St. Maarten and Dr. Katja Andeweg, who has worked on the island for several years in the past.

Dr. Kim Verschueren was born and raised on the island and has been a medical doctor for two and a half years. In 2011, she graduated from MPC and left the island to study medicine in Utrecht, the Netherlands. In the beginning of her fourth year, in 2014, her first rotation (internships in medical school) was on the surgical ward in SMMC under supervision of SMMC Medical Director and General Surgeon Dr. Felix Holiday. She graduated as a medical doctor in 2017 and a year after that she started working in The Hague until coming to St. Maarten. In October 2020, she will be starting her six-year residency in Gynecology/Obstetrics in The Hague/Leiden.

Dr. Katja Andeweg is a Dutch medical doctor with a special love for Sint Maarten and its people. Nine years ago, she interned at the Bushroad Clinic and after graduating, she worked at the Emergency Room (ER) of SMMC for a year and a half, after which she returned to the Bushroad Clinic and also taught at the American University of the Caribbean (AUC). After completing her Master’s degree, she now works as a GP in training Amsterdam and will return to the Netherlands in July.

What made you decide to assist SMMC during the COVID-19 pandemic?

KV: As health care workers, many of us feel the urge to help your 'own' country, especially when you feel potentially more valuable. In my situation, with the guarantee of starting my specialization at the end of the year, I felt free and able to quit my job in the Netherlands and come home to help where necessary.

Quite some colleagues of mine, working abroad (in Suriname, Curacao, Sub-Sahara Africa), returned to the Netherlands as soon as the pandemic threat grew. In addition to this, some of the richest countries in the world (UK and USA) are currently recruiting doctors from all over the world to help during this COVID-19 pandemic. This has catastrophic consequences for countries most in need of their health care professionals and made me feel inclined to come back to St. Maarten.

KA: The main reason to come back is because of the request of the hospital for doctors. In my workplace in the Netherlands, it was very quiet and wanting to make myself more useful I decided to come back. The GP-specialty training (huisartsenopleiding) and the foundation (SBOH) agreed that I could be working in the SMMC to help fight the COVID-pandemic instead of working in a GP-office in Amsterdam. They promised to allow me to continue my training while still paying me and I am very grateful that they gave me this opportunity. 

In a nutshell, can you tell us what your primary role will be while here?

KV: I will help where necessary as a general doctor. From what I've understood, this may be the general wards, the COVID-19 ward, the intensive care unit, the emergency rooms or wherever else.

KA: I will work as a medical doctor where ever is needed: on the ER-department, the general wards or the COVID-19 ward. Another contribution will most likely be improving the communication between the hospital and general practitioners and helping setting up COVID-protocols for the hospital. My working experience on the island, also after hurricane Irma, and the experience with COVID in the Netherlands as a general practitioner will certainly contribute to that.

What has your first day(s) working at SMMC been like? 

KV: Katja and I were immediately tested upon arrival (blood and swab) and have been quarantining ourselves awaiting the results. We also received work instructions and learn how to work with the electronic patient database via a video-conference. 

KA: The first thing we got when arriving in the hospital was a COVID rapid test and a swab. Until both results were in, we didn’t have any patient contact.  

What is your first impression of SMMC’s COVID response?

KV: SMMC's COVID response seems very adequate, even better than the initial response in the hospital I worked in the Netherlands. Instructions are clear (wash, social distancing, self-quarantine), gatherings are avoided and video-conference are used to provide work instructions. Next to this, triage of patients is done outside the emergency department and a separate Covid-19 pavilion is built next to the hospital to be able to keep providing regular, Covid-19 free, care in the SMMC building.

KA: The first impression that I got from the video SMMC made is that it looks very professional. All details on the floor I still have to look into, but in the hospital, everything seems to be well controlled.  

SMMC is proud and grateful to welcome Dr. Verschueren and Dr. Andeweg back to the hospital and thank them for their commitment and dedication to the health and wellbeing of the people of St. Maarten.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 07 May 2020 11:43:27 -0400
COCI & CARICHAM Invites Businesses to Webinar about Agriculture

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations will be organizing a webinar about COVID-19 and Food Systems under the banner, “Enabling agriculture investment in the Caribbean for an effective response and post-COVID-19 recovery.”

The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) along with its regional partner the Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM), is inviting local businesses as well as those with an affinity to agriculture development, to participate in the free webinar.

According to the FAO, “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, and many Caribbean countries are threatened by potential disruptions in their food systems and agricultural production. The abrupt drop in the tourism activity also threatens to generate a recession, and the arrival of the hurricane season completes a complex scenario for all Caribbean countries.

“In this context, recovering and strengthening the region’s Agri food systems has become a strategic priority, both for the food and nutritional security of the countries, and as a means to generate new sources of income for the rural sectors.

“The FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has taken the task to coordinate and carry out a series of discussions, through online conferences, focused on the effects of COVID-19 on the agri-food system.”

This is the fifth webinar of the FAO-COVID-19 and Food Systems Series, co-organized with in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, 7 May 2020 - 12:00 PM Barbados time (UTC -4), with a foreword by Julio Berdegué, FAO Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, and by Renata Clarke, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for the Caribbean (SLC). The link for the webinar can be found on the Facebook page of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Speakers during the webinar will be: Máximo Torero Cullen - Chief Economist and Assistant Director General of FAO, Economic and Social Department (ES-FAO), "Coronavirus: The Food Supply Chain Under Pressure What Can We Do?;"

Saboto Caesar - Minister of Agriculture, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Chair of CARICOM Agriculture Sector COVID-19 Response Task Force, "CARICOM COVID-19 Food and Security Action Plan Coordination and Implementation;"

Joseph Cox - CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration Blueprint for Transitioning to Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery; Patrick Antoine - Caribbean Private Sector Organization Representative, “Private Sector Leading Growth in the Region in a post COVID-19 world;”

Selected experts will pose questions following the presentations: Michael Clifton Pintard, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Bahamas; Jeremy Stephen, Economist; Lystra Fletcher-Paul, FAO Former Sub-regional Coordinator SRC-SLC.

The webinar initiative is part of the agreement made between 11 international organizations present in the region to coordinate their actions and provide technical support to governments in order to keep agri-food trade alive, expand social protection systems, reach common sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and increase intraregional trade.

St. Maarten COCI became an official member of the CARICHAM Network in February 2020.

CARICHAM was officially launched on April 1, 2019 to promote cooperation and collaboration between its 19-members within the Caribbean Basin. The grouping also seeks to improve the levels of trade and investment within the region and between the region and other trading partners.

CARICHAM would represent the interest of the private sector on regional and international issues; facilitate capacity building opportunities for members and representatives of the Chambers of Commerce; identify and undertake training, and facilitate other cooperation programs that will benefit the membership of the Chambers, as well as the next generation of Caribbean business leaders; foster innovation and strategic collaboration among members to increase global competitiveness of industries; develop and share business-to-business market intelligence; share experiences and best practice in areas such as trade and investment, renewable energy/energy efficiency, disaster risk reduction and climate change; and finally add value as well as identify opportunities for the members of the respective Chambers.

The members of CARICHAM are Chambers of Commerce & Industry from the following countries: Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Guadeloupe and St. Maarten.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 05 May 2020 21:20:22 -0400
Remembrance Day Commemoration 2020

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - Today May 4, 2020 we observed two minutes of silence in remembrance of the men and women who gave their lives in the fight to protect our democracy and freedom during War and peace keeping missions, according to a statement from the cabinet of the Governor His Excellency Eugene Holiday.

“Our yearly commemoration is our display of our appreciation for their sacrifices. And this year it takes on even greater significance against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s commemoration comes at a time when our generation is called upon to help fight the global war against COVID-19.

“A war that has disrupted our lives and way of living in so many ways. Today many among us are suffering with the corona virus and several families have lost a grandparent, a parent, a brother, a sister or a friend.

“In our effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 many among us are faced with the consequences of losing jobs or pay-cuts as businesses experience financial fallout. Marie Louise and I pray for everyone who are suffering as a result of the corona virus. And our hearts and sympathy go out to the families who have lost loved ones and friends.

“As we take on this unprecedented public health and socio-economic challenge, we can draw inspiration from the courage of the men and women we honor on this Remembrance Day. We can, moreover, draw strength from our courageous men and women out there risking their own health to keep us safe and to provide for our essential needs.

“Every day our health care professionals, our law enforcement officers, our grocery workers and other frontline employees remind us that our wellbeing and our country is worth fighting for. And as they do so, I express my deepest gratitude for their commitment, and I pray that God will keep them safe.

“As we endure these trying times and fight this unprecedented crisis let us on this Remembrance Day draw strength from the knowledge that generations before us have faced seemingly insurmountable challenges and prevailed.

“Let us as a Sint Maarten people remember that we have faced adversity before and overcame. Let us remember to remain steadfast in our knowledge that together we will overcome again,” the statement from the cabinet concludes.   

memorial frpg




]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 04 May 2020 17:41:50 -0400
UPDATED: Business Payroll Support Deadline Extended to May 6. 291 Employers with over 4,770 Employees Sign-up for Payroll Support Plan,770-employees-sign-up-for-payroll-support-plan&Itemid=450,770-employees-sign-up-for-payroll-support-plan&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Finance announced today, Friday, May 1st that the application deadline for Business Payroll Support would be extended. The new application deadline is May 6, 2020 midnight. This is a final extension for the first month of Business Payroll Support. 

The Sint Maarten Stimulus Support Relief Plan (SSRP) team has decided on this final deadline extension in order to grant companies the additional time to gather the required documents to apply for the first month of Business Payroll Support.

The final deadline extension also takes into consideration the review and payment process that needs to take place. At present, payments are scheduled to take place the week of May 11th. Applications will be reviewed and confirmed based on a ‘first in, first out’ order. Companies that were first to apply will be reviewed first. Approved applications will be paid out in the same order. 

A reminder to companies who may not have initially qualified for Business Payroll Support based on the exempt list, you may still qualify for the Lockdown Payroll Support Plan.

The deadline to apply for Lockdown Payroll Support is May 22, 2020. To verify if your company qualifies, visit and go to Lockdown Payroll Support. 

Payroll Support Plan is available to qualifying companies for a maximum of 3 months. For each month, the company must submit an application requesting Payroll Support. An overview of payroll support plan options, deadlines and requirements can be found on

ARCHIVE - APRIL 30 - SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As per April 30, 2020 time 11.30 am, 291 eligible employers with over 4770 employees registered their company online with SZV for online stimulus support. The deadline to apply is tomorrow May 1. Even though the new deadline will fall on May 1, though this is a national holiday, businesses will still be able to submit their documents online.

As of next week, the review committee, which consists of one representative of the government, one representative on behalf of SZV and one independent representative. The review committee will follow up on the applications as needed, during and post-review. The payouts for stimulus support will then begin during the week of May 11th.

Important deadlines

The deadline to apply for Lockdown Payroll Support is May 22, 2020. The application form for “Lockdown Payroll Support” will be available in the first week of May via SZV’s Employer Portal.

For each month of the Payroll Support Program, employers are required to complete a separate application form. The deadline for May Payroll Support is May 22, 2020. The deadline for June Payroll Support is June 19, 2020

Government would like to remind the general public that the ideology for providing the assistance is based on assisting those most vulnerable in our society.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 01 May 2020 22:15:59 -0400
Supermarkets/Grocers to Open Tue-Wed-Thurs. GEBE, TelEm and UTS to also Open. Optician services can be arranged,-telem-and-uts-to-also-open-optician-services-can-be-arranged&Itemid=450,-telem-and-uts-to-also-open-optician-services-can-be-arranged&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs issued an update on Sunday evening as it concerns the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures.

CPS social media production

I know you have just enjoyed a very good production that was just held by CPS. I know you will look forward to hearing from our medical professionals in the future, as this will be a weekly feature. I hereby congratulate them at this moment for an exceptional job thus far.


We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased and wish each and every person dealing with a COVID-19 death, as well as a regular death, much strength during these trying times, as you’re not able to comfort each other as is usual.

COVID-19 Cases

Based on the latest available data, the counts for April 25, as of 4:00 PM are as follows:

  • Self-Quarantine: 127
  • Self-Isolation: 103
  • Number Hospitalized: 7
  • Number Tested: 295
  • Number Positive: 74
  • Male: 52
  • Female: 22
  • Number Negative: 211
  • Number Pending: 9
  • Inconclusive: 1
  • Deceased: 13
  • Recovered: 33
  • Active Case: 28

Pie graphs

My Cabinet staff will publish pie graphs demonstrating the total numbers of positive cases, amount deceased, recovered, tested, as well as the current active cases. The majority of these cases have been negative and I believe that bodes well. We should also pay attention to our positive numbers. In this way, we can see that what we are doing now to flatten the curve is actually working. Of the seven persons, currently in the St. Maarten Medical Centre, three are in the hospital, while three are in the medium care pavilion and one is in intensive care in the ICU tent.

We wish all persons still struggling with the COVID-19 virus much strength and we continue to work together with our doctors and CPS to ensure that the number will flatten and slowly start to go down. We have been assessing our data on a daily basis, and hopefully by next week, we will be able to give you a better overview of what has been happening as it relates to our COVID-19 patients. Those in isolation, quarantine as well as those who are being monitored very carefully by our medical personnel. 

Strategic discussions

We have had several meetings over the past week with ESF 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 coordinators, together with the Ministers and their respective teams. We have been strategically discussing the next steps forward based on our plans and we have decided on the following in or EOC meeting of yesterday, April 24, 2020.

Relaxation of measures
It was determined that we should make the necessary changes to the ‘State of Emergency’ in order to further relax the safety and security measures currently in place, still allowing for three days of shopping despite it being a holiday week. The relaxed measures will ensure that some economic activity will still take place. These measures will also maintain the necessary safety measures to continue to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus as CPS goes about their day-to-day assessment within our community.

The main considerations concerning the relaxed measures, which allows for more businesses to be able to offer their services, will allow us to take a step closer to our new normal and maintain the necessary safety measures. The first priority, being the health perspective and flattening the curve, the second, being law enforcement and reducing civil unrest, and the third, being Economic Affairs, thereby mitigating further economic decline.

This week scheduled business openings
Due to the upcoming public holidays, the new essential business list schedule will allow for the general public to shop on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday and Friday, are holidays and as such, the general public will be allowed to make use of their right to do necessary grocery shopping, going to the pharmacies or visiting other essential businesses as listed in the addendum to the Ministerial Regulation on these particular days. Deliveries will also be increased. Therefore, more businesses are allowed to do deliveries this coming week onwards.

This one-week deviation was to ensure that our public still had three days to make use of necessities on the following week. The Monday, Wednesday, and Friday structure will resume after. Additionally, the general public will have access to more business services such as GEBE, TelEm and UTS to be able to pay their bills.

Tenants under the care of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation will also be able to carry-out their urgent and necessary errands on the three days that persons are allowed to make use of the public roads. Therefore, that is this week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and thereafter, we will be back to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday, arrangement until the regulation has been lifted.

Optician services
Another new addition to the Ministerial Regulation is the option for the general public to make use of optician services as of next week. Additionally, on the three days, several persons have mentioned that they need to make use of the optician services in order to get their glasses renewed and as such, next week Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and thereafter, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you will be able to leave your homes once you’re out doing your shopping,

Maintenance and repair services

Persons may arrange appointments to have maintenance and repair personnel come to their homes to do the necessary repairs and maintenance on the given days as well. Persons may also make use of insurance, notarial, legal services, and veterinary services by appointment only on the above-mentioned days that the public is allowed to make use of the roads. Those in need of these services are asked to stay within your own district as much as and to respect the zones as has been determined by National Decree. Namely, east of the Cole Bay hill (Zone A) and West of the Cole Bay hill (Zone B). We have asked all the banks, GEBE and TelEm to ensure that both branches on either side of the hill are open to minimize the amount of movement across the both sides. 

Courier services

Persons will also be able to get their packages ordered online as the courier’s will be allowed to deliver in the coming week. All these businesses may offer their services through delivery only. You are not allowed to go to their location of business to pick up your package. Last week, we already allowed for home delivery for baby and maternity stores, hardware stores and electronic stores as well as IT sales. This arrangement will also continue. 

By appointment only
Medical practitioners, laboratories and dental clinics are open to the public by appointment only all days of the week according to their schedules. This was already allowed last week; therefore, this will remain in effect. You do not need a personal waiver for these matters, as you just need some form of proof for your appointment with your doctor. Once your doctor issues you a letter to go to the lab or to the pharmacy, then that would serve as your proof of appointment in case you are stopped on the days when the curfew is in full effect for 24 hours. Moreover, construction projects are still only allowed for the COVID-19 related projects, as well as a police station, as these are emergency services in need of dire repair for their proper functioning during this COVID-19 period. The restaurants that have arrangements with essential Services may also continue to do so.

Other restaurants
Unfortunately, I am not going to allow other restaurants to open in the meantime until we can ensure that we have flattened the curve. All safety measures apply to all businesses allowed to be open for the three days. Therefore, you must ensure that your staff is healthy. Ensure that no one reporting to work has no flu-like symptoms, ensure good hygiene and sanitation protocols are in place. If you do not, you will most definitely be shut down.

Persons venturing out on the public roads during these times are asked to only do so on a needs basis. Do not go out there just for sightseeing. This complaint has also come forward. Please stay at home for your own health. Only one person per family is allowed to go out and stand in line to do any type of shopping remembering to maintain a 2 meters distance from other customers. We are totally against any groupings of persons standing in line.

In cars, there should be no more than two persons. I ask that you wear protective gear as many are being homemade and they’re using filters to ensure that the cloth masks are effective. Many companies are selling mask out there, therefore, ensure that you get yours. I ask that you refrain from hugging, kissing and shaking hands when you are out in public. These are strictly forbidden, as they will most definitely cause the spread of the virus.

There should be clearly defined markings outside and inside of all locations including at cash registers, 1.5 to 2 meters between clients, as well as in the back of the cash registers. Clearly marked arrows should be visible in all aisles ensuring one-directional traffic as well as ensuring proper social distancing inside and outside the stores. All staff must be free of flu-like symptoms and must wear protective gear. These places of business are to provide sanitizing spray or hand sanitizers for their customers entering the establishment. Proper sanitization of baskets and shopping carts are also a must and proper crowd control must be in place. Therefore, you must have a security guard or a community leader and ensure that no groupings larger than what your store can hold is allowed inside.

Delivery system
All businesses must ensure that they can put out a good and efficient delivery system in order to keep the population satisfied. On days, when you are not allowed to visit the stores, they are allowed to make deliveries. Many stores have been doing that and I commend you for doing so and keeping our population as safe as possible.


I’ve also taken note that due to the situation in Curacao, where medical personnel brought in to assist were noted to have been COVID- 19 positive, I would like to reiterate that when our medical and technical assistance arrived, we ensured that were tested prior to arrival and upon arrival. These persons also had to maintain a two-week quarantine here on St. Maarten before going into society. While working they must wear protective gear at all times in case they do start to show symptoms at a later time.

Our marines and police officers that have come in have been tested and will continue to be tested as long as they are going to be active in our society. We will not put our people at risk when we are looking for assistance and I must say that the Dutch Marines were in quarantine for two weeks before getting on the ship and they have been at sea for about a week. They will continue to remain on the ship until we can ascertain that they have been tested and are safe to enter our community. 

Waiver system
In clarifying the waiver system, persons on the French side who need to travel to the Dutch side will need to permission from the Chief of Police ( or myself ( These waivers may also be submitted digitally via under the ‘Law, Form & Protocols’ option. Persons on the Dutch side needing to cross the border to the French side will have to request permission from the Prefete via the following link

Ad hoc

As we near the end of today’s announcement, I would like to tell the people of St. Maarten that we are not working in an ad hoc manner. We have very strict plans in place, but we continue to assess the delivery of these plans and how it is actually working in the community, and as such, we are adjusting and ensuring that people can receive what we plan for them to get in the time that it is allotted. 

Plan B, C and D
Of course, every good plan must have a Plan B, C and D, and therefore, as we are just moving along and we see that the curve is actually flattening, we can then have a release of more and more services. This way the persons on St. Maarten can feel that we are in a sense of normalcy. I must say that many people are using this time to find new ways to earn funds and find new ways to become productive while remaining at home.

We are actively looking at ways to ensure that some students who have not yet been able to make up online classes would be able to do so. We’re actively seeking funds, as well as ensuring that every child will be able to understand and learn, even in this COVID-19 reality. E-government and E-education was always on my vision board, but COVID-19 gives us the unique opportunity to be able to enforce it right away. No longer can we say that we don’t have enough money for this or we don’t have enough money for that. We must find the money, and with COVID-19 money being available out there in the community and in the international world we will use every opportunity afforded to us to be able to ensure that every child gets the necessary education even while they are at home. Therefore, we are looking at ways to get devices as well as Internet connection to all our students.

EU funds

There are EU funds available, however, you must have your project ready to go. They are not going to give the money directly to the government of St. Maarten. Therefore, we have to identify organizations that are ready to go to execute hard work in order to get those funds moving on St. Maarten.


This is an opportunity people of St. Maarten. Let’s make use of it. St. Maarten was not up to par as it pertains to being online, paying bills online, ordering food or materials online. We know how to order from Amazon etc. however, here is your opportunity to offer the general public of St. Maarten products made in St. Maarten. Start your own online business.

You start realizing your dreams. It is about time that the people of St. Maarten realizes the strength that lies within them. Realize the strength that lies within you to find your dream. Think of a way of making online business work for you. Let us see how inventive you can be. Even our own local University can do better in offering more online classes and I’m willing to sit with each and every one who has great ideas about that. I know many great ideas exist within our community and together we can solve the problems that the world is facing.

As a matter of fact, we will be trendsetters by showing how after this COVID-19, we bounce back better. We bounce back smarter. We bounce back, more efficient and able to handle our business. So, let us put all our hands-on deck, improve our own lives, thereby, improving St. Maarten as a whole.

When we are ready to open St. Maarten, people will say, “Wow! St. Maarten has worked hard, despite the difficulties faced, despite having persons showing up at the hospital undocumented and unregistered by CPS.”

We are still doing our best and making sure that everybody is informed. Information is power! Ensure that you are informed. Ensure that your neighbors are informed and make sure that we are all executing a high level of social distancing and personal hygiene, as well as when we go out so that we do not infect others if we may be positive ourselves and do not know it.

If you feel any symptoms whatsoever, get tested. By getting tested, we can get you healed, recovered and back in society. That is what we want because around the world, COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. It is going down and going up, but on our tiny island, while we have the opportunity, let us kick it in the butt and send it on its way. We can do this people, we can do this!

I wish each and everyone of us a blessed weekend and remember, stay strong, stay faithful; we are blessed.

april latest fig


]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Sun, 26 Apr 2020 22:39:59 -0400
CIBC FIRSTCARIBBEAN DONATES USD $10K TO SMMC$10k-to-smmc&Itemid=450$10k-to-smmc&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The St. Maarten Medical Center will soon be equipped with two Dominant Flex Mobile Suction Machines and five SSCOR Duet Portable Suction Devices through a recent USD $10,000 donation by CIBC FirstCaribbean.  

The machines, which are scheduled to arrive on the island within the coming weeks, will be used in the fight against Covid-19 on St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius.  

The bank, through its charitable arm the FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation, donated a total of USD$250,000 across countries in its regional footprint. The donation is amongst a list of Covid relief efforts by the bank. 

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Sat, 25 Apr 2020 15:32:49 -0400
Eight COVID-19 Cases Hospitalized including Two Dialysis Patients

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs, update for Thursday, April 23, 2020 is as follows.

Eight COVID-19 Cases Hospitalized 

There are no COVID-19 updates for today, as Government is awaiting lab results from the St. Maarten Laboratory Services which had to be sent to Institute Pasteur in Guadeloupe. However, I can update that as of today, April 23rd, 2020, the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) has 8 COVID-19 suspected patients admitted. 

Of the eight patients, two are dialysis patients who have been transferred to the Mobile Medical Pavilion, one has been admitted to the ICU tent and the other five remain at SMMC. Five persons are also currently isolated at our isolation facility and 22 persons currently recovering at home.  

Doctors Guests on Prime Minister Talks 

CPS Head Eva Lista-de Weever and Dr. Raissa Tjon-Kon-Fat were featured on Prime Minister Talks today as well and disseminated information to the general public. CPS will continue to weekly update the public in a live interview on St. Maarten Government Radio 107.9 FM and Government’s Facebook page. 

Border Control and Security 

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs held a fruitful four-country ministerial consultation together with the Minister of Justice Anna Richardson and Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion pertaining to the plan of action in regard to border control and security. 

Minister Richardson is currently preparing the necessary plans in order to secure our borders. Additionally, the Joint Regulation on Border Control agreements have been extended until December 2020, and discussions pertaining to a further extension will continue throughout this period. Lastly, discussions were also had concerning further developments and training of our customs officers. 

Consultation with Dutch State Secretary Knops

This afternoon, a four-country ministerial consultation on an administrative level was also held with State Secretary of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops to discuss the COVID -19 developments and measures implemented.

Prime Minister Jacobs shared the status of the St. Maarten Medical Centre in regard to COVID-19. Epidemiological reports were shared between all countries in the consultation, as well as measures to be implemented by each respective country where it pertains to financing and restarting the economy. Also discussed, were de-escalation measures and current measures that the countries will be implementing to secure the social and economic welfare of persons.  

Stimulus Plans Shared 

The countries also shared their various stimulus plans. In addition, St. Maarten provided clarity in regard to the liquidity support 2019 received, and the pending liquidity support to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

State Secretary Knops reassured of the Dutch pledge to support the Caribbean countries in the Dutch Kingdom and is awaiting the CFT advice on St. Maarten’s Stimulus and Relief Plan financing request, which is expected in time for a decision at the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting of May 1st, 2020. State Secretary Knops also stated that we continue to learn from each other as we face this pandemic together. 

Adapt to the New Normal 

As St. Maarten moves further into the depths of the digital world, Prime Minister Jacobs urges both the community and businesses to accept the changes before us and begin to adapt to our new normal. This is the only way to keep a calm head during this pandemic. “It is very important to remain indoors, join an exercise group online, or start one within your family or friend circle. You can also start a book club, take up sewing, bookkeeping, or take time to learn or develop a skill you’ve always wanted to master. Continue practicing proper hygiene and boosting your immune system.  

COVID-19 was unexpected, however, just like all the other challenges St. Maarten has overcome, this too shall pass, and we will have been stronger for the experience. Every storm has its silver lining, and I challenged each and every citizen to find and highlight one good thing that has come out of this period of quarantining ourselves at home. Remember that those front liners have no choice, they must work to save US, protect US, care for US, and provide essential service for US. Let us help them to help us by staying at home, and only going out if it really cannot be avoided. 

God bless St. Maarten and her people as we work together; Government, community, and each and every St. Maarten resident, to keep her safe,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.”  

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 23 Apr 2020 22:17:52 -0400
COVID-19 deceased climbs to 12. Cases Now at 73. Some Businesses to Reopen Next Week

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs issued a statement on Wednesday giving an update with respect to current COVID-19 developments.

COVID-19 Cases  

Based on the latest available data, as updated by CPS Epidemiologist Eva Lista-de Weever, the counts for April 22, 2020 as of 4:00 PM are as follows:  

  • Self-Quarantine: 130  
  • Self-Isolation: 95   
  • Number Hospitalized:   8  
  • Number Tested:  266 (+8)
  • Number Positive: 73 (+2)
  • Male:  51  
  • Female:  22  
  • Number Negative: 169 (+28)
  • Number Pending:  23
  • Inconclusive:     1  
  • Deceased:  12 (+1)
  • Recovered:  22 (+10)
  • Active Cases:  39 (+1)

Today, April 22, 2020, the St. Maarten Medical Centre Outbreak Management Team has updated that the works on the Intensive Care Unit ICU tent have been completed and that the tent is ready for its first patients.

Moving forward, any COVID-19 suspected or confirmed patient requiring ICU care will be admitted to the tent which will be manned by Medical and Nursing personnel provided by the Ministry of Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport (VWS) via AMI Healthcare.

Some Businesses May Reopen Next Week

On April 22, 2020, a meeting was held with Prime Minister Jacobs and Emergency Support Function 10 to receive updates and further deliberations concerning the effects of COVID-19 on the business community. Considering that Government’s stimulus plan was launched this week and that certain businesses cannot qualify for the payroll subsidy, ESF 10 is considering allowing these businesses to be open, through limited opening hours effective next week. 

Businesses Closed in Contravention of Decree

The Inspectorate of the Ministry of TEATT conducted controls today and closed businesses that were operating in contravention to the published National decree of April 18, 2020. The government urges businesses not to engage in such as they will be fined.

Prime Minister Jacobs has decided to allow freight, shipping, and cargo companies to make deliveries to all their clients and not just emergency and essential services. Veterinary clinics and the St. Maarten Marine Trade Association (SMMTA) have also sent in their waiver requests to resume their operations in order to provide services to the public and these are being considered.

WIB to Open More Branches

The Windward Islands Bank will have 3 branches open as of next week to facilitate the month-end traffic and payments of pension, social welfare & payroll. The third branch will be announced at a later date. Prime Minister Jacobs encourages persons to visit the branch closest to their home and to continue to practice social distancing.


Lastly, the waiver or ‘Certificate of Exception’ also known as ‘Form C’ is usually granted for persons traveling for work, urgent medical appointments, or doctor visits. Though it is not stated on the waiver, it is allowed for persons to travel across the border to Dutch St. Maarten for banking purposes as well and they should state their reason.


“I encourage each and every one of you to pray and continue checking up on each other virtually via the internet and phone. Use this time, to reach out to your neighbour, family, and friends. Let's be mindful that there is no “one size fits all” policy to address all the challenges associated with the COVID-19 virus and the challenges to come. However, rest assured that the EOC, Council of Ministers, and their respective teams are working tirelessly as one team; Team St. Maarten, to mitigate and contain this deadly virus. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that the people of St. Maarten love one another and are strong and resilient people. I cannot stress enough. Continue to be blessed St. Maarten,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs. 





]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 22 Apr 2020 22:50:41 -0400
BES Islands seek additional economic support in response to COVID-19 Crisis

SINT EUSTATIUS - On March 25th, the islands of Statia, Saba and Bonaire (BES Islands) received an Emergency Package for employees, employers and entrepreneurs to deal with economic consequences of the Corona pandemic. This Emergency Package, including contribution for labor costs of microcredits for employers, is much appreciated by the governments of the three islands.

However, based on the lessons learned from the aftermath and recovery after hurricanes Irma and Maria, the local governments of the three islands point out that the current package will not suffice. Governors of Saba and Bonaire joined forces with Government Commissioner Van Rij, to seek additional economic support measures from The Hague.

In a joint letter of April 22nd, addressed to the Ministers of Economic Affairs, Social Affairs, Finance, and Internal Affairs, a broad spectrum of economic consequences and possible responses are explicated. A week prior, the Minister of Economic Affairs Mr. Wiebes and State Secretary of Social Affairs Mrs. Van Ark, had already received a letter from Central Dialogue Statia, requesting an economic recovery stimulus.

Government Commissioner van Rij: ´We appreciate the emergency package offered to the BES-islands. Many of our citizens need it dearly. But looking ahead, an additional economic package is essential. The aftermath of COVID 19 is expected to be far greater than for example the effects of hurricanes in recent years. Therefore, we need to look beyond the coming three months for a more structural and comprehensive solution.

Suggestions for additional measures include a marketing fund for tourism, increased social security and reduction of transport costs between Saba and Statia to St. Maarten.

The letter addresses a number of problems Statia and the other islands are facing as a result of the Corona crisis. This includes:

  • The current Emergency Package offers up to 80% compensation of loss of turnover. However, the remaining 20% ​​cannot be borne by many companies on the island. In many cases their turnover has been brought down to zero and margins are often so minimal that entrepreneurs are not able to absorb the remaining 20%. Reserves of these businesses are often too minimal to compensate out of pocket.
  • Tourism has come to a virtual standstill in a matter of weeks.
  • Projects are delayed, leaving money on the shelf. For example, renewal of the airport is ongoing, but has suffered delays, because of the crisis.
  • There is a poverty trap for people who are not part of the target group of the initial emergency package. These include the elderly and others who depend on peers for their income. This is a large group on Statia, where few people use social security of the government.
  • Day laborers or people with a 0-hour contract are also excluded from the scheme. Especially because often are paid off the record and in cash.
  • The public entities of Statia and Saba are not in a position to take additional measures, because of their financial outlook.
  • The oil terminal, as an important employer on Statia, has cancelled contracts at the beginning of this years. As a result, subcontractors lost their business. Companies that rely on the oil terminal are affected as well, including supermarkets, rental companies, restaurants and hotels.
    With the current Corona crisis, this sector is hit for a second time in a short period. Because officials from the Netherlands have postponed their trips, as a result of the current crisis, these businesses are dealing with an accumulation in decrease of income.

To prevent further damage to the economy and to stimulate a speedy recovery and in addition to the offered Emergency Package, a number of measures are suggested:

  • A budget neutral economic impulse, by implementing planned government projects earlier than scheduled.
  • Facilitate deferment of payment for mortgage and loans, electricity and telecom, for businesses in distress.
  • Reduce permanent or temporary cost of living of Statians, by guaranteeing utility depreciation charges.
  • Impulse tourism and marketing:

    It took two years after hurricanes Irma and Maria for tourists to make their way to Statia and Saba. A multi-faceted approach to promoting tourism is needed to stimulate tourism. For example, being physically present at fairs is essential. Therefore, a tourism promotion fund is required.
  • Reduced fare of flights from Saba and Statia to St. Maarten, to make the islands more attractive for tourists and bring down transport costs, as part of living expenses for its inhabitants.
  • Strengthening social security services, for instance by an increase of food stamps and temporary allowances for regular living costs.

Many of these suggestions, have been on the table, long before the current situation. Implementing these measures now, would be addressing some of the root causes for the lagging behind of the economic development of the islands. By stimulating the economy in direct response to the Corona crisis, an increased dependency on government spending in the long term can be minimalized.

The Public Entity of St. Eustatius is currently awaiting a decision by the Dutch cabinet about additional economic support for the BES-islands. The decision is expected soon. (GIS)

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 22 Apr 2020 21:55:40 -0400
Multihull Racing in the Caribbean: The CMC leads the way

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY - By Robbie Ferron) - Regattas featuring primarily monohull yachts are as common as sunshine; and the nature of that game is well known and understood by almost all. But racing in large multihulls – the sort of boats that are particularly good as cruising platforms – is not yet quite accepted for that blood tingling purpose.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Multihull Challenge (CMC) -- going into its third year in February 2021 -- is proving that yacht racing with cruising-style multihulls is as interesting and challenging as it is with any single hulled vessel. In our 2020 edition, racing for all kinds of multihulls – no matter the design -- was exhilarating, stormy, exciting; and full of an electric passion for multihulls that brought forth well more than four days of glorious and windy fun.

At the event, one end of the speed spectrum was the ocean racing multihull machines, that in contrast to the smaller more ‘cruisy’ models dominated the ultra-top-end of the sport where the challenge is to cover long distances at unheard of sailing speeds. The 2020 CMC was entertained by three of these amazing vessels that led to the dropping of many jaws. The Mod-70’s Masarati and Argo; plus the 63’ trimaran Shockwave were brilliantly fast and mainly crewed by experienced professionals; all participating in the CMC and at the same time preparing for the Caribbean 600 to start in Antigua the week after the CMC concluded.

Most people do not get to see these awesome vessels when they do their offshore races so being in close proximity to them at the start and finish of each race in Simpson Bay is akin to being witness to the first time the Wright Brothers took off at Kitty Hawk. In particular, Masarati was sensation because when accelerating her bow shoots skywards which was a most spectacular sight.

Because cruising multihulls do not get raced often, they have attracted the reputation that they cannot sail and maneuver quickly. Wrong. As soon as some good sailors get on board these boats and do some tuning and learning, it turns out that they can perform fantastic nautical tricks. We saw this in our Cruising Classes where close results and tight racing clearly led to a great regatta experience. As in monohull racing, podium success is usually found by experienced sailors who get to know their boats well and who spend the time, energy, and resources to set them up.

The joyous lesson is that the more cruising catamarans are raced and the more their crews are practiced; substantial speeds, crisp maneuvers, and great results become readily available.

Looking at the 2020 results one sees that older and newer boats can be competitive via the CSA rating system that we use. For instance, in CMC II we had great racing between two Robertson and Caine boats that have very different construction dates. The older one is a Leopard 45 called Spellbound. The newer one is also a Leopard called La Novia -- a little larger but with a good rating rule applied in each case both crews enjoyed very close racing.

In the 2021 Caribbean racing season – after the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown - a big boost will be offered by there finally being a single rating rule for all multihull events. The rule - owned and administered by the experienced team at the Caribbean Sailing Association - and administered by an enthusiastic assemblage of measurers will make the 2021 Caribbean Multihull Challenge not only a prestigious event for all makes of multihulls, but a fair one as well. Can’t wait to see you there!

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 21 Apr 2020 15:15:11 -0400

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Gracita Arrindell former President of Parliament states that, “it is with deep sorrow we mourn the passing of our former colleague, the late Mr. Louis Duzanson, former head of the department of General affairs Island Territory St. Maarten.

“Mr. Duzanson was loved and highly respected by all who had the privilege to work and be trained by him for decades. He was particularly, skilled in document registration and archiving. His work went far beyond the correct and timely processing of documents traversing the corridors of the government apparatus. He was generous in sharing his knowledge of past administration events. He explained the how, when and why a particular important decision was made and by whom. In this position of trust, Mr. Duzanson never compromised his integrity, states Gracita.”

Arrindell said, “ he was an unwavering professional in his work with colleagues as well as members of the former Executive and Island Councils. Mr. Louis Duzanson understood and respected the position he was in charge of managing. Leading by example, always courteous, respectful to the public visiting his office, no matter who you were”.

Gracita continues and said, “Preserving our administrative history was clearly his passion. Mr. Duzanson took pride in sharing his knowledge of our political – administrative past. Many sought and received his advises for research purposes, especially on matters pertaining to documents regarding prior Island Council and Antillean parliamentary elections”.

“Mr. Louis Duzanson, was a St. Maarten encyclopedia long before ‘Google’ became a popular search engine. He shared with a keen eye for details, memorable political and administrative events prior to the new constitutional status of St. Maarten achieved on October 10th 2010”.

Arrindell continues and states, “highly regarded for his knowledge of and experience within our public administration, Mr. Duzanson was appointed in 1990, chairman of the ‘workgroup reorganization of the government administration’Under his leadership, supported by one technical assistant, Mr. Gerrit Kassander, other heads of departments, including my person (as counterpart to Mr. Kassander) the Government Administration was restructured. This major operation included the introduction of the current ‘Sector Organization’ structure, that included in-house tailor-made training for front office civil servants.

“Nineteen- ninety- two (1992) was another important year in our constitutional history. Island territory Sint Maarten was placed under Higher Supervision by the Dutch government and co-administered by the then Antillean government of Maria Liberia Peters. Local decision-making became centralized. The offices of the Lt. Governor, the Island Secretary and the Department of general affairs played an important role in recording, and transfer of all decisions of major financial or administrative consequences via Willemstad to The Hague. Mr. Duzanson and his team, eased the burden of the local administrators by executing this extra- ordinary task timely and professionally, as deliberations continued between the three layers of government at the time; The Hague, Willemstad and Philipsburg.”

Gracita further said that, “Louis was always concerned about the lack of priority for preserving our administrative/political decision-making history”.

“After our island’s devastation by hurricanes Luis and Marilyn in 1995, the need became more urgent to digitally record and preserve what was left of our administrative history, including the Island Council meetings.

“Encouraged by St. Maarten author and renowned poet Lasana Sekou, Louis finally put pen to paper and wrote ‘An Introduction to Government- Island territory of St. Maarten” (House of Nehesi Publishers, 2000,2003), I was honored to be the guest speaker at the book party, held at the Jubilee Library in 2000”, said Gracita.

“Mr. Louis Duzanson’s contribution to his island and to preserving a full range of our administrative history, is ours to have and to record further and more securely for future generations to come,” said Gracita

Arrindell concludes and said, “we mourn the passing of Mr. Louis Duzanson, a great loss to his son, his wife, family and friends as well as to our nation. We can celebrate his life and honor his legacy with naming the future government archive department or section of the new library in his name. An archive that is modern, and meticulously put together as he would have done. “Mr. Louis Duzanson, Thank you for the privilege of your service”.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 20 Apr 2020 22:20:49 -0400
Positive cases at 68, 46 Active. Mobile Pavilion Now in Use. Community Outreach reaches 632,-46-active-mobile-pavilion-now-in-use-community-outreach-reaches-632&Itemid=450,-46-active-mobile-pavilion-now-in-use-community-outreach-reaches-632&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs gave an update for today, Monday, April 20, 2020 with respect to the current state of affairs related to COVID-19.

Her address is as follows:

COVID-19 Cases

Based on the latest available data, the counts for April 20, as of 4:00 PM are as follows:

  • Self-Quarantine: 98 (no new updates)
  • Self-Isolation: 87 (no new updates)
  • Number Hospitalized: 7 (based upon information received on April 19 at 5:30 PM)
  • Number Tested: 249
  • Number Positive: 68
  • Male: 47
  • Female: 21
  • Number Negative: 141
  • Number Pending:39
  • Inconclusive: 1
  • Deceased: 10 (Includes Dutch resident who passed away in Guadeloupe)
  • Recovered: 12
  • Active Case: 46

Mobile Pavilion in Use

I can now announce that the first patient has been transferred to the Mobile Medical Pavilion at SMMC as of Saturday, April 18th, 2020. The patient requires level 4 care and will be given that care at the MMP before being discharged. This also allows for beds to be freed up at the hospital so that they can resume other services they are accustomed to. 

I am also able to say that St. Maarten is now the recipient of the first ICU Hospitainer which arrived over the weekend and will replace the ICU tent. The second hospitainer will arrive later this week. These hospitainers were made possible by the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports in the Netherlands. 

CPS Community Outreach

In regard to CPS’ community outreach efforts, I was provided with some preliminary findings from the outreach within 3 neighborhoods. From April 14 to April 19, 2020, CPS led a community initiative where volunteers would go door to door to identify those persons with symptoms. If those persons were symptomatic, they were tested by CPS staff. The volunteers went to 3 neighborhoods (Sucker Garden, Cay Bay and Cay Hill) and spoke to approximately 242 households consisting of 632 persons. CPS identified 9 persons with symptoms, of which 6 persons were tested. The results of these persons are still pending. 

Meeting with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok

This morning a meeting was held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this meeting as well were the Prime Ministers of Curacao and Aruba. During the meeting each Minister from Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and The Netherlands gave an update on the measures implemented and the status of the crisis as well as the confirmed numbers.

Discussion was had about the possibility for international and European assistance to which, Minister Blok indicated that they would provide information on this matter at a later date, to be determined. Minister Blok and BZ are willing to assist with discussions of aid and assistance from Cuba and China but expressed the need for the Countries to be vigilant with the proposals of assistance.

Meeting with the Prefet

This afternoon a meeting was also held with our northern counterparts. Both the Prefet and myself offered an update on the recent cases being tracked by the health authorities on Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. As well as updates on the current cases in the hospital. The Prefet expressed plans to increase testing to get more accurate information on whether or not there is a wider spread of the virus on Saint Martin.

Currently, they are testing based on the severity of the case and are willing to start to test milder symptom cases, which would be more in line with the method applied by Sint Maarten. Additionally, it was agreed that the health authorities on both sides will coordinate efforts on qualifying persons as healthy. Currently, there are disparities between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin as to how to qualify persons as recovered.

Finally, the bottlenecks that were experienced with the waiver system last week were ironed out. It was confirmed again that the system for cross-border travel waivers, is that each country will decide who may enter into their territory. A signed waiver is necessary from the Country a person wished to travel to. Synchronization of the qualification for granting waivers was also briefly discussed to curb the granting of too many waivers.


In my address yesterday, April 18, 2020, I informed you about the details of the National Decree extending the exception of April 20, 2020, no. 2020/0316 for the entire territory of St. Maarten. The new national decree will be for a period of three weeks and began on April 19, 2020, with the possibility of an extension if necessary.  

Persons who live in Saint Martin and work in Sint Maarten or have urgent medical appointments are required to fill in the Travel Waiver (Form Certificate of Exception) which must be signed by the employer and the Prime Minister ( or the Chief of Police ( This also counts for deliveries. The forms (A, B and C) have been updated on 

Persons who live in Sint Maarten and work in Saint Martin or have urgent medical appointments should get the necessary waiver signed by their employer and the Prefet of St. Barths and Saint Martin via the online form ( or digital copies can be sent to This also counts for deliveries. 

For clarity, I’d like to reiterate that the staff of the essential businesses allowed to provide services must be in the possession of a valid disaster pass or a waiver signed by the owner of the business. Persons already in possession of an existing waiver for essential services mentioned herein and signed by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs, and the Minister of Justice or the Chief of Police are automatically renewed. Persons required to utilize the public roads for medical emergencies and/or medical appointments should have proof of said appointment.

ESF 6 Social Development

Emergency Support Function 6 had a fruitful meeting with the organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are out delivering, as well as with the community leaders to streamline the delivery list.

The updated delivery list for distribution is currently being finalized and the food packages are also currently being packed. They will be ready for distribution by Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, in collaboration with the community leaders. 

National Decree Info Graphics 

Today, April 20, 2020, in accordance with the National Decree, government released several info graphics to the public in order to bring clarity to the National Decree. 

  • The Essential Business Shopping Schedule
  • Essential Businesses Allowed to Provide Services (In the event of emergencies as well)
  • Conditions for Grocery Stores & Bakeries
  • Information Regarding Waivers 


Today was uneventful which is good from a social distancing standpoint. Crowds continue to decrease, and businesses are responding to the recommendations. The rush at the supermarkets and grocery stores has subsided. ESF 10 will now focus more of their time on the recovery and reopening of the economy based on research that was & is being conducted. ESF 10 Coordinator Miguel de Weever will also be meeting with representatives of our Ports of Entry (Airport & Harbor) to discuss how to re-open the ports of entry in a safe manner. 

In closing, I would like to commend the tireless efforts of all essential staff of the various businesses and emergency services who continue, despite the pandemic, to work in the health and safety of all. Any complaints will be properly researched if businesses are not following the proper guidelines and of course fines will be issued. The business would be shut down for the remainder of the state of emergency. I am sure most businesses who are happy to be open are not going to jeopardize that and would be more than happy to live up to the regulations as has been published and shared with them prior to the national decree being established.

Thank You – Your Doing a Great Job

I would also like to say, that as front care and front-line workers and all the medical personnel, you are doing a great job. I know some of you are quite tired, and I would like to admonish you to find time to rest. We will be able to ensure that you get some rest by ensuring that the rest of the population remains at home during this period.

I would like to thank each and every person who has followed the measures, are observing their health or have it as priority number one and remembering to remain faithful. Remember, we are faithful, we are strong, and we are Sint Maarten. I know when I think about the root cause of so many mistakes and spiritual pitfalls in life, the source always comes from fear. A lot of persons who remain negative on social media etc., are acting out of faith, but I would like to ask you to think about your actions and think about whether you are doing damage or doing good.

The Government of Sint Maarten has truly been transparent in bringing information almost to the minute, as soon as we have it. Sometimes when people are pounding ‘melee’ about certain things, that means that we have not received it officially, and if you hear about it later in the day or the next day, that is when we have been able to ascertain that it is a fact and what measures have been taken to mitigate whatever may have gone wrong.

I would like to ask you to remain faithful as I have asked you before, remain strong, as we are a blessed country. We will come back from this and we are already on our way back. Stay blessed Sint Maarten, stay acting out of love and faith and have a wonderful evening.    

Be blessed St. Maarten! 

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 20 Apr 2020 22:01:12 -0400
SMMC to transfer COVID care to Medical Pavilion and ICU Hospitainer

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - With the Mobile Medical Pavilion (MMP) and the ICU Hospitainer, both located across St. Maarten Medical Center at the basketball and tennis courts at Raoul Illidge Sport Complex, now fully operational, the next phase is to start preparing the transfer of COVID care to this area outside SMMC in order for the hospital to allow regular care and consultations to resume once the conditions of the lockdown allow for this to take place.

“Last month, SMMC ceased elective medical procedures and consultations as part of the preventative measures SMMC’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) implemented in order to limit the possible exposure to the virus. The phase we are entering now is to look at how we can gradually start back the regular operations of the hospital once the conditions of the lockdown allow for such”, SMMC’s Medical Director and Chairman of the OMT, Dr. Felix Holiday explained.

“The first step is to transfer COVID care to the MMP and ICU Hospitainer which are both located outside SMMC so we keep the COVID treatment area contained to one particular zone which simultaneously makes it possible for SMMC to resume regular operations again soon afterwards, when the lockdown allows for this”, Dr. Holiday stated.

“The MMP has 7 double patient rooms which will be used for medium care, for example for COVID suspected or confirmed cases that require only regular oxygenation (non-invasive care) and for triage purposes for anyone displaying flu like symptoms. The Hospitainer has 6 ICU beds - each equipped with its own ventilator - to provide critical COVID care for which the Aspen Medical Team from the USA, presently on St. Maarten, will primarily assist us with”, Dr. Holiday concluded.

With St. Maarten currently still registering positive COVID cases and the estimate of many, unregistered COVID cases in the community, SMMC reminds the general public to register at CPS if you or someone you know displays symptoms (fever, cough, tiredness, shortness of breath) and follow the general advice of social distancing and self-isolation.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 17 Apr 2020 19:26:30 -0400
Chamber advises business community and public to be alert for criminal online schemes

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Chamber of Commerce & Industry of St. Maarten is in preparation and working diligently to improve its own online service platform. Promotion of these opportunities and especially during the lack of having physical foot traffic to the various stores, it is important to generate or rather create other avenues of revenue generation.

Online services, web-shops, and e-commerce are growing throughout the world. With any progress and adaptation to new markets, there are pitfalls and you should be aware of this.

The International Police Organization INTERPOL has recently advised the global business community and the public to exercise caution when purchasing medical supplies online during the current pandemic as criminals are taking advantage by trying to defraud victims online.

INTERPOL reports with surgical masks and other medical supplies in high demand yet difficult to find in retail stores as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email addresses claiming to sell these items have sprung up online.

“But instead of receiving the promised masks and supplies, unsuspecting victims have seen their money disappear into the hands of the criminals involved.

“This is one of several types of financial fraud schemes connected to the ongoing global health crisis which have been reported to INTERPOL by authorities in its member countries,” INTERPOL says.

The international police organization adds that, “Scams linked to the virus include: Telephone fraud – criminals call victims pretending to be clinic or hospital officials, who claim that a relative of the victim has fallen sick with the virus and request payments for medical treatment;

“Phishing – emails claiming to be from national or global health authorities, with the aim of tricking victims to provide personal credentials or payment details, or to open an attachment containing malware.

“In many cases, the fraudsters impersonate legitimate companies, using similar names, websites and email addresses in their attempt to trick unsuspecting members of the public, even reaching out proactively via emails and messages on social media platforms.”

COCI is advising the business community and the general public to be alert as many people are spending more time online. The advice of the Government and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to remain at home in order to protect the public health care system and the population from the spread of COVID-19 and at the same time to prevent the spread within the community, without a doubt has led to an increase in online internet activity.

COCI supports the advice given by INTERPOL stating that if you are looking to buy medical supplies online, or receive emails or links offering medical support, be alert to the signs of a potential scam to protect yourself and your money.

Independently verify the company/individual offering the items before making any purchases; Be aware of bogus websites – criminals will often use a web address which looks almost identical to the legitimate one, e.g. ‘’ instead of ‘’.

Check online reviews of a company before making a purchase – for example, have there been complaints of other customers not receiving the promised items?; Be wary if asked to make a payment to a bank account located in a different country than where the company is located.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, alert your bank immediately so the payment can be stopped.

Do not click on links or open attachments which you were not expecting to receive, or come from an unknown sender; Be wary of unsolicited emails offering medical equipment or requesting your personal information for medical checks – legitimate health authorities do not normally contact the general public in this manner.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 17 Apr 2020 17:11:03 -0400
Prime Minister Jacobs Allows Essential Services to Open for Two Days

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In an ongoing effort to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 virus on St. Maarten, Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC Silveria Jacobs declared a State of Emergency on St. Maarten on April 4, 2020, during her National Address, with immediate effect as of April 5, 2020. This state of emergency instituted a total lockdown of Dutch St. Maarten including the ports of entry and the borders to the Northern side of the island.

After several heavy discussions with the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and strategic meetings with the relevant Emergency Support Function (ESF) coordinators, the decision was made to allow persons with urgent and necessary need(s) to access essential services for two days during the lockdown also alleviating the social unrest. Supermarkets have been closed to the public, allowing only for deliveries, which was not being executed as planned. As a result, Prime Minister Jacobs stated on April 14, that she has taken the decision to make amendments to the State of Emergency Nation Decree in order to allow supermarkets and other essential services to open today, Thursday, April 16, 2020, and Friday, April 17, 2020.

On these two dates, the general public is permitted to make use of the public roads from 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM in order to purchase food and other essential goods necessary for their basic needs. The businesses allowed to open and provide essential services to the public during the two-day period are grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, banks and gas stations between 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Funeral home services may be conducted, provided with the understanding that no more than 20 persons are allowed to participate, also taking into account the conditions in article 9 of the State of Emergency National Decree regarding social distancing.

“I would like to remind the general public that the lockdown is still in full effect. You should only leave home if it is absolutely necessary,” said Prime Minister Jacobs. Persons who are making use of the essential services during this two day period are to adhere to the requirement of wearing a mask when out in the public. Persons should continue to practice proper hygiene and maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 to 2 meters from other persons at all times; in and outside of these establishments. Grocery stores opening to the public for this period are also encouraged to continue allowing deliveries to be made as well.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 16 Apr 2020 16:34:45 -0400

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Current information suggests that the two main routes of transmission of the COVID-19 virus are respiratory droplets and contact, the Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Development and Labour said on Tuesday in a press statement.

Respiratory droplets are generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Any person who is in close contact (within 1 m) with someone who has respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing) is at risk of being exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets.

Current evidence suggests that most disease is transmitted by symptomatic laboratory confirmed cases. The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, but can be as long as 14 days.

During this period, also known as the “pre-symptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious and therefore transmit the virus to others. This is supported by data suggesting that some people can test positive for COVID-19 from 1-3 days before they develop symptoms.

Thus, it is possible that people infected with COVID-19 could transmit the virus before symptoms develop. It is important to recognize that pre-symptomatic transmission still requires the virus to be spread via infectious droplets or through touching contaminated surfaces.

Wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19. However, the use of medical masks in the community may create a false sense of security, with neglect of other essential measures, such as hand hygiene practices and physical distancing, and may lead to touching the face under the masks and under the eyes.

Other measures should also be adopted. Whether or not masks are used, maximum compliance with hand hygiene and other infection prevention control measures is critical to prevent human-to-human transmission of COVID-19.

Potential advantages of the use of masks by healthy people in the community setting include reducing potential exposure risk from infected person during the “pre-symptomatic” period and stigmatization of individuals wearing mask for source control.

In light of the above, the use of non-medical masks (simple cloth face coverings e.g. sewn cloth face covering, bandana face covering) by healthy people in the community is recommended to slow the spread of the virus and help prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. These coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. The following features related to cloth face coverings should be taken into consideration:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Health care workers, COVID-19 patients, caregivers of COVID-19 patients and symptomatic people should wear a medical mask. Medical masks are defined as surgical masks or N-95 respirators that are flat or pleated; they are affixed to the head with straps.

They are tested according to a set of standardized test methods that aim to balance high filtration, adequate breathability and optionally, fluid penetration resistance. It is critical that medical masks and respirators which are in short supply, be prioritized for health care workers.

For any type of mask, appropriate use and disposal are essential to ensure that they are effective and to avoid any increase in transmission.

  • Place the mask carefully, ensuring it covers the mouth and nose, and tie it securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
  • Remove the mask using the appropriate technique: do not touch the front of the mask but untie it from behind.
  • After removal or whenever a used mask is inadvertently touched, clean hands using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean, dry mask.
  • Do not re-use single-use masks.
  • Discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removal.

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]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 14 Apr 2020 16:36:06 -0400