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Princess Beatrix tests positive for coronavirus

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The former Dutch queen Beatrix has tested positive for coronavirus after suffering mild cold symptoms, the state information service RVD has confirmed.

Beatrix, who is known as princess since abdicating in 2013 in favour of her son Willem-Alexander, is at home and is following the rules for people who have tested positive for the virus, the RVD said.

Beatrix, 83, was in Curacao last week for a working visit and told local health officials that she had already been given the booster vaccination. The positive test result means the former queen will miss the birthday celebrations for her oldest granddaughter and crown princess Amalia, who turns 18 on Tuesday.

(DutchNews)

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2021 Saba Day celebration sparks positivity

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The people of Saba, dignitaries and invited guests came together for the official ceremony on Friday, December 3 for Saba Day 2021. It was an event of positivity where gratitude was expressed for keeping the island safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 hurricane season, and Saba’s successes were celebrated.

After the customary hoisting of the Saba flag and the singing of the national anthem and the Flag Song in front of the Government Administration Building in The Bottom, people walked to the Juliana’s Sports Field for an ecumenical service with praise, prayer and song. MC Elsa Peterson opened the official ceremony and welcomed everyone to the 46th annual Saba Day celebration with as theme: “Adopting a positive mindset amidst a changing world.”

Winner of the primary school poetry contest, Sacred Heart School student Nevaeh Peterson, got a big applause for reading her poem about a great Saba tradition, fishing, and preparing the catch afterwards. Winner of the secondary school poetry contest Sab Comprehensive School student Trevon Johnson presented his poem about being a Saba boy, getting pig meat to make the best red pea soup, a traditional Saban dish, and remaining positive.

Accept changes

Commissioner of Culture Rolando Wilson reflected on this year’s theme. “A positive mindset in a changing world might seem a difficult topic, but it simply means that we as a people have to acknowledge and accept that changes are here and more will be coming. We have to prepare ourselves if we are to overcome and survive in this changing world. We must have a strong voice in contributing to what is happening to our island and we must have a positive mindset in how we handle our affairs,” he said.

Wilson looked back at what he called a “remarkable year” in the middle of a pandemic. “We have much to give God thanks for. Most of our people were kept safe and spared from this deadly virus. Our economy remained intact for a great part, people did not lose their jobs and businesses were able to survive. This could not have been possible without the financial assistance from the Dutch Government which allowed local government to assist businesses to offset the losses. It also enabled us to carry ou8t a number of social and infrastructural projects.”

Wilson reminded the people that the pandemic was still ongoing. “We are not out of the woods and we should not drop our guards. The pandemic is still a reality and can impact us any time. With the new variant, we must keep attention and adhere to the established protocols. As we look forward to the year ahead, let us do so with bold confidence and much optimism. Each of us has a role to lay in our island’s development. This can only be achieved through hard work and togetherness form each one of us. As we move forward, let us collectively work along with our sister islands and the Dutch counterparts to further improve our relations.”  

Find balance

Commissioner of General Affairs Bruce Zagers said that while many of Saba’s successes could be directly traced to the decisions, work ethic, mindset and forward-thinking attitude of Saba’s ancestors, and it was important to preserve the local culture and heritage, it was also vital to find a balance where there is room for development in both the social and physical domains.

Change is a given, but not all change has been good, said Zagers, who mentioned the high cost of living and increased poverty since Saba’s transition to a Dutch public entity status in 2010. “Families that earn wages below a livable standard, and we know there is poverty, albeit for the most part it is hidden. We can relate to an economy that barely recovered from the hurricanes of 2017, only to be hit three years later with a complete shutdown. We feel the consequences of a free allowance which is too low and is negatively impacting services provided by government. We are challenged by bureaucratic systems, inadequate banking opportunities and the feeling that too often decisions are being made about us but not with us.”

But the change has also brought many positive things which has provided growth and opportunities for Saba and its people, said Zagers. Projects such as the new fire station, a solar park, agriculture initiatives, a remodeled tourist office, a botanical garden, a new hotel that will open shortly, the Saba Splash Bottling Plant, the eventual expansion of the school buildings, the planned upgrades at the Johan Cruijf Court, the second phase of social housing Under the Hill, the planned expansion of the elderly home and the new harbor project which will start in the later part of next year.

Zagers gave credit to the Public Health Department and its vaccination campaign which put Saba on the map for probably having the highest vaccination rate in the world, government’s financial management team that continues to produce at a very high level, the Saba Conservation Foundation which is also involved in research projects and spearheading a marine lab, and the BES(t)4Kids program which continues to invest in teachers and caregivers.

Act with love

Island Governor Jonathan Johnson said that change and transitions, even though difficult, were part of the process of life. “The most repeated phrase in the Bible is ‘Be not afraid.’ This does not mean that we should carelessly and recklessly go through life, but we must act with love,” he said, emphasizing the importance of loving one another.

Johnson expressed concerns about bullying at schools and in society, and people acting adversely towards other. “The primary language of children is behavior, not words. That is why we as adults must model good behavior. Scolding children teaches them how to scold. By showing them to understand, we teach them to understand. By helping them, we teach them to help. We have to care about other people’s children. We have to care about everyone. Because eventually, the cost of our callousness will be borne by our children.”

Six Sabans received a community award for their dedication and hard work: teacher Constance Clement, retired Public Works employee Wycliffe Rawlins, teacher Elka Charles-Simmons, retired school bus driver James Bennett “Benny” Johnson, retired school bus and taxi driver Gloria Robinson-Levenston and retired taxi driver and entrepreneur Eddison Peterson.

Friday’s official ceremony included performances by grade 2 and 6 primary school students, a cultural display by students and dance by children of Child Focus. The well-attended event was closed off with a toast and a public reception with food, cake and drinks. Afterwards, people visited the many booths on Matthew Levenstone Street in The Bottom. Festivities will continue throughout the weekend.

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Saba Day 2021 with hoisted flag

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Funding model in development for ECD Sector and Safety Nets

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A funding model for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Sector (children 4 weeks to 4 years) and Safety Nets (afterschool programmes) is being investigated and developed with key stakeholders and professionals.

The Department of Youth, MECYS, in its efforts to strengthen both the ECD sector and Safety Nets, requested technical assistance from UNICEF the Netherlands to develop a sustainable and equitable funding model that would promote inclusion and equity to these services for more children.

As part of this activity, Public Finance Expert Mr. Elinor Bajraktari will be on Sint Maarten from November 29th to December 10th, to conduct a series of interviews and field visits with stakeholders from the ECD Sector, Safety Nets, funding agencies and relevant government departments in the ministries of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS), Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA), and Finance.

The funding model will propose options to increase public sector support for ECD centres and afterschool programmes through subsidies to the private sector. The funding model could also include a tuition waiver system for vulnerable students and targeting mechanisms such as paying specific attention to gender disparities and disabilities. The models proposed must meet the requirement of being evidence-based, cost-effective, sustainable and predictable.

Additionally, Mr. Bajraktari will work on the development and operationalization of a data collection strategy for the systematic collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on ECD and Safety Nets on Sint Maarten.

The development of the proposal for this funding model is part of the 'Child Resilience and Protection Project’ (CRPP). The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS), with technical support from UNICEF the Netherlands, is executing the CRPP, a multi-faceted approach to building child resilience and strengthening the systems and institutions for child protection. The project is funded by the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust-fund, managed by the World Bank.

Persons can also share their feedback directly via online surveys until Wednesday, December 15th 2021:

The information collected will be used to formulate the proposal for potential funding model options.

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Gasoline and Diesel Prices to be adjusted downward on Friday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Friday, December 3rd, fuel pump prices will be adjusted for gasoline and diesel. 

The current price of unleaded gasoline is Naf.2.324 per liter, will be adjusted to the new price of Naf.2.298 per liter.

The current price of diesel is Naf.1.873 per liter, will be adjusted to the new price of Naf.1.821 per liter.

The Government of Sint Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products in the country to motorists.

At the international level, the prices of crude oil have experienced adjustments and local prices follow the international trend, and therefore prices are adjusted to reflect this. 

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This Holiday Season: Shop Smart, Shop Safe

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Every year the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), as part of its annual calendar of observances, highlights and creates awareness about safe holiday experiences for the entire family.

The 2021 holiday season is here, and CPS advises to shoppers to adhere to the current public health and safety measures that are in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mask should be worn over your nose and mouth and should be properly secured under your chin. Wearing a mask correctly offers protection to you and those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Maintain a safe distance of two meters (six feet) from others especially persons who are at a higher risk of getting very sick; wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol content; cover coughs and sneezes, and wash or clean your hands after every episode.  

One of the key points this holiday season should be to make sure that whatever gift you buy for a child this year’s holiday season, make sure that it's safe – Shop Smart, Shop Safe. Check the safety information of toys before you purchase them.

Before purchasing or giving any gift, particularly any intended for a child, double check to make sure the gifts do not pose a hazard or put the child at risk of danger. Carefully read the safety instructions and conditions attached to the gift and ensure that it is age appropriate.

Here are some safety tips for holiday season shopping: select toys suitable for a child's age, abilities, skills, and interest level; for infants, toddlers, and all small children, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard.

Avoid toys with sharp edges and points, especially for children under age eight; read the labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide in your holiday shopping.

Magnets — For children under age six, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

Small Parts — For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

Ride-on Toys — Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should always be sized to fit and worn when operating the aforementioned. Help instil safety discipline.

Projectile Toys — Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.

Chargers and Adapters — Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

One of the most important gifts of all to give a child is time spent with you as a parent/guardian this holiday season. As we prepare to celebrate the holidays during this pandemic, let us be mindful and stay close to home with immediate family and limit interactions in small social/family bubbles.

Continue to make use of virtual celebrations, let us collectively work on ensuring a safe and healthy society as 2021 comes to an end.

Shop Smart, Shop in a Safe and Healthy manner observing all preventive measures including COVID-19. Let us together celebrate the holidays safely and protecting others.

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Free Rapid HIV Testing in Cole Bay

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA) in collaboration with the St. Maarten Aids Foundation and the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) offered free & confidential HIV testing at the Cole Bay Community Help Desk on Saturday November 27, 2021, from 10am to 3pm.

Scores of persons visited the Community Help Desk and took advantage of the opportunity to know their HIV status, which involved a quick health screening and simple finger prick to take blood.

The results were provided within 10 minutes or less. Visitors also received free condoms and advice and information on sexual health and practices. The free and confidential HIV testing is one of many initiatives that CDFHA is hosting during the month of December in recognition of World AIDS Day celebrated on December 1, 2021, with the theme “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility.”

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December 1 World AIDS Day: End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – World AIDS Day is observed each year on December 1st. The theme is: “End inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally to confront the inequalities that drive AIDS and to reach people who are currently not receiving essential HIV services.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), includes World AIDS Day as part of its calendar of annual observances.

The internationally observed day provides an opportunity to raise awareness, educate and improve a greater understanding of HIV as a global public health issue.

CPS is calling on members of the community to wear a red shirt/blouse from Wednesday up to and including Friday and light a candle to commemorate World AIDS Day.

At the end of 2020, approximately 38 million people globally were living with HIV, with 1.5 million newly infected that year, and approximately 680,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Global HIV Discrimination in the World of Work Survey.

Most people living with HIV lead long and healthy lives thanks to effective ways to manage the infection. However, people, particularly younger generations should be aware and obtain skills to access HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care, according to the WHO.

CPS encourages the community to educate and inform themselves about the latest developments related to AIDS and HIV. It is also important for the community to be supportive and not discriminate against persons living with HIV AIDS or any other diseases. 

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CHCC hosts their Thanksgiving, Christmas Tree Lighting & Opening of new Community Space

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On Saturday the 27th of November 2021 the Cay-Hill Community Council Foundation (CHCC) held their Thanksgiving, Christmas tree lighting and the opening of their newly designed Cay-Hill Community Space, CHCC said in a media statement on Sunday.

“In a welcomed comment the president of the Cay-Hill Community Council Angelique Romou said that there was much to give thanks for having survived this year, of the pandemic.

“The CHCC held its second annual Thanksgiving and Christmas tree lighting ceremony with the feature event being the opening of the Cay-Hill community Space. Ms. Romou said finally after a year of working with SMDF who spare headed the entire project they managed to open the space as the council was pass the cut off time.

“Romou stated that upon agreeing to be a part of the community Spaces project the Council’s first assignment was to identify a location which they could utilize as a community space. When the space was identified, SMDF had to meet with the Ministry of Education Culture Youth and Sport, head of the department of Sports in order to get an approval to use the space as it was on the property at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex.

“After successful meetings The Minister, the department of Sports, along with the National Sports Institute (NSI) came to an agreement that the space upon completion and according to the agreed upon rules and regulations would be handed over to the Cay-Hill Community Council.

“In 2020 a survey was set up by the Red Cross representative and SMDF in order to get an idea from the Cay-Hill residents, what they wanted to have in the community Space, after the data was retrieved from the survey the items to be placed at the space were selected. The work continued to get the space the way the community and the CHCC envisioned it and even though there is still some minor work to be done the space is ready for the community to enjoy.

“Present at the opening ceremony were the Minister of Education Culture Youth and Sport, Mr. Rodolfe Samuel, The head of the Department of Sports Ms. Jonelle Richardson, the director of the National Sports Institute, Mr. Michael Cornet, the director of SMDF Ms. Makisha Brooks and of course the Cay-Hill Community Council, the street leaders and the many Cay-Hill Residents.

“After the end of the ceremony the director and the President of The CayHill Community Council signed the agreement handing over the Cay-Hill Community Space to the Cay-Hill Community Council Foundation who will manage the facility.

“The community space is equipped with a meeting area and outdoor exercise equipment. The 2 picnic tables and the benches at the space were made by NIPA.

“The CHCC is very grateful for the space and the project which was spare headed by SMDF because finally the residents of Cay-hill has a space they can call their own where they can come together in the spirit of community. The CHCC also wants to thank all the Cay- Hill and other Community partners who contributed to the opening of the Cay-Hill Community space.

“Namely ACE, l’Esperance Hotel, Premier supermarket, Econo Supermarket, Fleming’s Café, Tipsy Ba& restaurant located at Sea Breeze hotel, CC1, Subway, Carls and Sons and Kooyman. The Cay-Hill residents who also assisted, Mrs. Juliana Carty lake & Mr. Dennis lake, DJ Hildo Martina, Louis Brown and family and Ms. Silvia Martina-Gibs, all the Cay-Hill Street leaders, the CHCC and of course the lovely residents of Cay-Hill for coming out to show appreciation for their new Cay-Hill Community Space,” the CHCC media statement concludes.

The Space is located at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex between the tennis court and the basketball court directly across from the Hospital’s Emergency Room.

For any further information concerning the space the CHCC can be reached via their email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or their Facebook Page Cay Hill Community Council.

 

 

 

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Police urges drivers to be cautious while driving during this busy time of year

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The traffic department of the Police Force of Sint Maarten is again dealing with an increase in vehicle accidents. These have resulted in several people sustaining minor injuries and severely damaged vehicles.

These vehicle accidents primarily occurred at the junction of W.J. A. Nisbeth Road and Codville Webster Street; on Soualiga Road, and A.Th, Illidge Road.

The roads are particularly busy at this time of year and drivers must take extra precautions while driving. Driving defensively helps take away the element of surprise.

The idea is that drivers who are mentally prepared and alert will know how to react in an emergency with quick decision-making, which can be essential when driving during these busy days.

The Police Force of Sint-Maarten continues to warn, scooter, and motorcycle riders, motorist about their behavior in traffic, especially during the busy hours of the day.

“Since serious accidents keep happening and because of the severity of the damages caused may eventually result in the death of the rider or someone around them. We are still noticing the risky behavior by certain groups of road users, on the island which is causing concern for the safety of the general public. (KPSM)

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CPS advises community to take preventive measures to prevent Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, is calling on the community and in particular parents and guardians, day care centers and play schools, to take preventive measures to mitigate Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) by taking extra measures to prevent the aforementioned by washing hands often with soap and water.

CPSs communicable diseases surveillance system has picked up a number of cases within the community.

Parents/guardians who have a child exhibiting any symptoms of HFMD, and has an appointment with the Baby Wellness Clinic, are hereby requested to call to reschedule the child’s appointment.

HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children who are 10-years of age or younger. It can sometimes occur in adults. There is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Symptoms of HFMD include cold-like conditions, fever, mouth sores, loss of appetite, cough, and a skin rash; a non-itchy red rash that develops on the hand and the feet, and sometimes the rash can develop into painful blisters; painful mouth ulcers.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is spread from person to person through nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), blister fluid, or stool of infected persons. When handling secretions, it is advisable to apply the necessary preventive measures.

Persons with symptoms should consult their family physician and take necessary preventive measures in order to mitigate an increase in the number of cases.

To lower your risk of being infected with hand, foot and mouth disease, wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet; disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys.

First wash the items with soap and water, and then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach; and avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, thumb-sucking, nail-chewing or sharing eating utensils or cups with infected persons.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is not the same as foot and mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep and pigs. The two infections are unrelated, and you cannot catch hand, foot and mouth disease from animals.

For more information call CPS at 914 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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