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Fire Dept. approves the sale of Consumer Fireworks as of Dec.29-31

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – The Sint Maarten Fire Department, which falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, based on a Council of Ministers decision, has granted permits to Firefly Fireworks allowing them for permits to import, transport, and sell consumer fireworks based on the Vuurwerkbesluit AB2013 GT no18.

Sales will start from the 29th until the 31st of December 2020 on the Ring Road across the street from the Blue Point store.

The Fire Department advises all consumers to use caution when lighting consumer fireworks:

-      Read the instructions and warnings before usage. The vendor will share these to all customers.

-      Protect yourself and those around you. Wear proper eye protection and clothing, also keep the fireworks at a safe distance from flammable material and spectators.

-      Only use fireworks as intended. Do not try to alter them, combine them nor relight after failure.

-      Choose an open area away from gas stations, bulk stations, churches, hospitals, and senior citizens homes.

-      Never light fireworks indoors and point it away from homes, brushes, dry grass, and flammable substances.

-      Many animals find fireworks scary. Do not light fireworks around your pets or other animals. Yard/house pets should be placed in a safe area.

In the event someone gets injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or the hospital.

The Fire Department is cautioning all persons about the risk of buying and lighting fireworks from any other vendor as these have not been screened by the Fire Department and therefore may not meet its safety requirement.

These are considered illegal fireworks and may not meet the criteria of ignition delay and may have way larger explosions or effects than allowed.

Such fireworks can not only cause severe burns and the loss of fingers, but even the loss of limbs and life. These illegal fireworks if ignited too close or inside a building may cause severe damage or the collapse of the aforementioned.

The Police will not hesitate to act accordingly in the case of igniting, storage, or sale of illegal fireworks.

The Fire Department together with the Police, Customs and the Coastguard will be vigilant to ensure that all firework activities at the closing of 2020 are according to the granted permits and used in a safe manner.

The Fire Department would like in advance to thank everybody who has prevented harm or damages by acting responsibly and safe on Sint Maarten and beyond.

The Fire Chief and the entire staff wishes you a healthy and safe 2021.

For any emergencies call: Fire Dept. 919; Police 911; Ambulance 912; Coastguard 913.

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WYCCF informs about Covid-19 Vaccine.

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S ESTATE) - The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF), even though Covid-free at the moment, is still at risk of infections of the Covid-19 virus. The clients of the WYCCF are amongst the highest risk groups. So, considering that for this group an infection could be lethal, the Covid-19 prevention protocol is followed very strictly.

Rapid testing of clients and staff is done frequently and with all new admissions. Even though this is going very well, and there haven't been any cases since November, this is not a long-term solution to this pandemic. Also, because the social interaction of our clients has been severely impacted with no visitors in our buildings and no family outings and events.

We see daily how this affects the quality of life of our clients. The WYCCF is therefore looking forward to receiving Covid-19 vaccines, that the Netherlands is planning to share with Sint Maarten. The Netherlands plans to administer the first vaccines at the start of January 2021, and the WYCCF hopes that the vaccines will reach Sint Maarten that same month.

As there are currently a lot of different stories going around about vaccines, the WYCCF decided to do an internal exploratory survey, to see how its staff, clients, and family members of our clients think about this vaccine. The results of this survey were clear: a lot of uncertainties and doubts, and many persons were still not sure if they would take the vaccine or not, simply because they do not know enough about it.

The speed of development and long-term side effects were most often indicated as the sources for doubt. More information was requested, so the WYCCF commenced its information campaign. This started last week with the goal to inform its staff, clients, and family members about vaccination in general, and specifically, the Covid-19 vaccine.

In three infographic videos, the basics of vaccines were covered. The first one explains how a vaccine works, and the second touches on all the mandatory steps and rules around the development of a vaccine. In the last video, it was explained how this Covid-19 vaccine was produced within a year, while this process normally takes 10 to 15 years. It only makes sense to be cautious when hearing these numbers, but there are actually very logical explanations why it could be produced so fast.

For starters, the type of virus (which is similar to the SARS virus in 2003) was already under research. So, since they are so similar, they didn’t have to start from scratch with this new Covid-19 virus. Adding to that, China shared the genetic code of the virus in January of this year, after which scientists from all over the world could start working on it.

The second big reason that explains why this was possible so fast, is that it normally takes years to gather enough funding and to recruit enough volunteers. But because of the global pandemic, this was no problem at all. Volunteers were lining up, and money was not an issue. All over the world, governments and scientists worked together towards one common goal.

Lastly, because of the high need for a solution to this pandemic, different steps in the developmental process could be executed at the same time, where they normally happen one after another. For example, stages 2 and 3 in the clinical phase happened simultaneously. They have also started producing the vaccines, even before it was officially approved, which saved a lot of time.

It is very important, however, to realize that no steps in the development process can be skipped and that the rules for a vaccine to be approved are always the same. Even if the global need for it is sky high, safety always comes first. The Covid-19 vaccines that are officially approved, can therefore be considered just as safe as any other vaccine that we have all been using for decades like the flu-shot, hepatitis, or polio (which was also developed very fast).

Something else that came out of the survey is that it is not that easy to get informed on the matter because of the overload of information on the internet and on social media. The problem, however, is that scientific research is often oversimplified or misinterpreted to create a sensation in the media. On the other end, the scientific articles themselves are often too complicated to read.

Unfortunately, there is also too much fake information purposely shared which can overshadow facts, so you don’t know what to believe anymore. For this reason, the WYCCF debunked the most common myths about the Covid-19 vaccine in a series of 3 infographics, which were shared amongst its staff and on social media.

Among those myths was that ''the vaccine would cause severe side effects''. While it is true that a small portion of people experienced mild side effects, this is only the immune system responding to the vaccine. So, this is a good thing, because that means the vaccine works (and the body will start to produce antibodies).

Only a handful of people experienced more serious side effects, within minutes after receiving their first dose. It is suspected that these persons had underlying allergies because no direct link could be found between these incidents and the vaccine. Another interesting one was the claim that ''the vaccine would change your DNA''. Rest assured; the Pfizer vaccine uses a RNA messenger that does not do anything to your DNA.

Also, a common one is that ''the vaccine contains toxic ingredients and preservatives''. With this one, it is important to understand that dosage is everything. Even water becomes toxic when the dosage is too high. All the doses of the ingredients in a single vaccine are so low, that they are NOT considered toxic. Lastly: ''If everybody else gets vaccinated, I don’t have to''.

It is important to realize that you’re not only doing it for yourself but also for others around you who can’t get the vaccine. For example, people who have HIV or who are going through chemotherapy can’t get vaccinated and are therefore at risk. All the debunked myths and infographic videos, as well as a detailed elaboration about the topic and links, can be found on the WYCCF Facebook page: facebook.com/whiteandyellowcrosscarefoundation

With this info campaign, the WYCCF aims to inform its staff, clients, and client’s family members properly so they can make an informed decision when the vaccine arrives in Sint Maarten. For now, we hope that this will be around the end of January, and since the clients of the WYCCF are considered amongst the highest risk groups, it is expected that they would be among the first ones to receive the vaccine.

It remains unsure still, how many vaccines will arrive in Sint Maarten, but the WYCCF already started its preparations to make sure everything can go as smooth and safe as possible. It should be noted that taking the vaccine will not be mandatory. However, we hope that with the provided information, a lot of the initial worries and uncertainties about the vaccine have been taken away. For the safety of our clients, it is very important that as many people as possible take the vaccine so we can eradicate the virus and go back to our normal way of living.

White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation – Protected Together

covid vaccine

 

 

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NAGICO Postpones Raffle to 2021

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Due to positive COVID-19 cases at NAGICO’s Philipsburg location, the Management of the insurance company has closed the offices until December 29, and the raffle draw has been postponed to 2021.

For more information, read the notice below.

Raffle Postponed

 

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GOVERNOR’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2020

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) – His Excellency the Governor of Sint Maarten drs Eugene Holiday, released his 2020 Christmas Message on December 25: My Fellow Sint Maarteners,

I bring you warm greetings on this Christmas day from my family to yours. May the spirit of Christmas be your guide this Holiday season. May it inspire us to share its beauty, hope, and renewing spirit.

For Christmas celebrations are not the same for anyone this year. The coronavirus continues to have a serious impact on our lives and livelihood, presenting our Country – and the world – with extra-ordinary challenges. Some of us have faced health issues or lost love ones, have lost or face losing our jobs, and are having difficulty making ends meet. Many of us are weary of social distancing and of wearing masks. And I am thankful for the men and women, who courageously and tirelessly, continue to work on the frontline to protect our lives and livelihood.

In this atmosphere, the pulse of the season is as a result tempered. Attending Christmas mass is different, visiting extended family and friends ought to be avoided, and for too many there are empty chairs at the Christmas dinner table. To all facing personal loss, as a result of health, economic, social or other causes, I offer my sympathy and encourage you to reflect on the words of the prophet Isaiah that our hope in the Lord will renew our strength.

As we celebrate this Christmas, may we draw renewed strength from these words to carry us forward. In these trying times, Christmas provides us with the promise of renewal. The promise that the sun will set on our challenges, only to bring brighter days with new opportunities at sunrise.

It is in that regard, that I believe that the Christmas spirit will give us, as individuals, as businesses, as government and as a people, renewed strength. Strength to face and overcome health, social, financial, or other challenges that may come our way. Strength to continue to do our part, to reach out to the vulnerable among us and to protect each other.

During this special time of the year, I trust that our gatherings with close family, will fortify our family bonds. May our Christmas gatherings remind us of the significance of our mutual interdependence, of the power of kindness, and of the importance of protecting and caring for each other. And by extension inspire us to strengthen our relationships with our friends, with our colleagues, with our neighbors and with our partners. Yes, inspire stronger relationships founded on greater appreciation for each other. This, with the purpose of uplifting each other and perfecting our sweet Sint Maarten Land.

My fellow Sint Maarteners,

As we gather with close family to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us embrace the season’s power of renewing strength. And may the renewing power of Christmas make things lighter and brighten our way, now and into the new year.

It is in that spirit of renewed strength that Marie-Louise and I, wish you and your family, joyous, safe, and hope-filled Christmas holidays!

God bless you and May God bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast. 

The Governor of Sint Maarten

Eugene B. Holiday

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Gibbs: 2020 has been a trying year. We must continue to be vigilant

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) – President of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin Daniel Gibbs on Christmas Eve issued his 2020 Christmas Day 2020 message to the nation and it reads as follows as translated by Microsoft translation services: Dear fellow citizens, I wish you a happy holiday season and take advantage of this well-deserved Christmas break.

In many ways, 2020 has been a trying year. We must continue to be vigilant in the face of the health crisis which affects us, to respect the barrier gestures and the recommendations of the Regional Health Agency.

The crises we have faced together since 2017 have helped strengthen the ties that unite us and our capacity for resilience. They have strengthened our unity and our collective and fighting spirit in the face of adversity.

During this Christmas period, I have a special thought for the families who will not be able to reunite due to health restrictions. In such a situation, it is essential to maintain family links and to share our traditions with those close to us who have remained far from us. It is a way to transmit a part of our Friendly Island to them and to reassure them.

I also have a thought for those who are going through difficult times or who are facing illness. I wish them all the strength they need to overcome these trials.

My dear compatriots,

I encourage you to remain united and united, to continue your efforts in the public space while respecting health constraints. For now, this is the only way at our disposal to effectively fight the global Covid19 pandemic, which has affected us since March 2020.

On behalf of my elected colleagues of the Territorial Council of Saint-Martin, on behalf of the staff of the Collectivity, I send you my best wishes for these Christmas and New Year's celebrations and the new year that is looming.

I remain convinced that the best is yet to come. Rest assured that we are working tirelessly on this with my team. Happy holidays to all. I wish you happy holidays!

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TelEm Group contribute to festive Christmas displays in Philipsburg

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) TelEm Group is bringing festive joy to residents and visitors to the island by sponsoring four Christmas trees, shimmering lights and various decorations in the heart of Philipsburg.

TelEm’s Group’s Good Corporate Citizenship is on full display not only by providing funds for the lights, decorations and trees, but also because of the number of employees who turned out to hang the lights and put up the displays.

“Observing social distancing protocols, the displays are really worth a visit for some pictures or videos to send to family and friends. A simply drive past should do it,” said TelEm Group Residential Manager Marketing & Sales, Julie Zambrini-Judd.

Julie thanks her colleagues for being so enthusiastic about lighting up Philipsburg, not only for the many visitors here for the Christmas season, but also for residents who have been through so much this year with the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with.

“If we can bring even the slightest bit of joy and happiness to those who see the lights it will be a success it itself,” says Julie.

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The 36-hour work week option

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) -  December 23rd, 2020. The General Audit Chamber submitted its report entitled “Mini audit survey: The 36-hour work week option for civil servants” to Parliament today. A survey was distributed to civil servants of all ministries and the High Councils of State to gauge their level of interest on the topic of free time.

To acquire the second tranche of liquidity support, a reduction of 12.5% of the total employment package of all employees in the (semi) public sector is necessary.

Even though the report does not use a statistically representative sample, it does provide an indication on the level of interest to voluntarily adopt a shorter workweek; 32 or 36 hours instead of 40 hours a week. In total, 290 responses were acquired.

The Audit Chamber asked respondents to rate their level of agreement or disagreement to the statement “Reducing my work week hours would negatively affect my financial situation”. 87 respondents (30%) were indifferent or disagreed that reducing their work hours would negatively affect their financial situation.

The number of respondents represent a potential structural savings of between NAf 472,000 (in case of a 36-hour work week) to NAf 1 million (in case of a 32- hour work week) for government. Assuming that the level of response (87 respondents, equaling 30%) was present in the entire population of the civil service, a potential cost saving of NAf 3 million could be achieved.

The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org) and via links on the General Audit Chamber’s social media platforms Facebook and LinkedIn

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Ministry of Justice draft Function Books completed, sent to CCSU for review

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Upon taking office in March of this year, Minister of Justice the Hon. Anna E. Richardson made the Ministry of Justice Function Books her number one priority. Minister Richardson set a target goal to have the internal handling of the Function Book complete before 2021, and is pleased to announce that this goal has been achieved.

The Ministry of Justice Function Book has been an unresolved matter since 10-10-10 and has contributed to various challenges (also legally) within the Ministry of Justice. The Function Book regulates an important part of the legal status of each civil servant. It ultimately defines their position, task, responsibilities and their salary scales.

Minister Richardson would like to express her gratitude to the Project Group comprising of a Steering Committee and a Work Group that was installed on September 4th 2020. The Steering Committee consist of the Ministers General Affairs, Justice and Finance and their respective SG’s and the Work Group consist of key civil servants from the Ministry of General Affairs, Finance, and Justice.

After several months of dedicated hard work the Ministry of Justice Function Book was turned over to the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (‘CCSU’) today, Tuesday, December 22nd 2020. The ‘CCSU’ now has 6 weeks to review and render their advice.

During the Committee of Justice meeting in Parliament on Monday, December 14th, 2020, Minister Richardson made mention of the CCSU’s proactive approach in requesting an additional 2 weeks to review the Function book, this statement was also published by the Daily Herald.

As a point of clarification, the request in question was for an extension to review the change pertaining to the National Ordinance Police and the LIOL to better regulate the position National Detectives and to insert the Court of Guardianship in Government’s structure. As such, an extension period was granted to them until Friday, January 15th, 2021.

Once this step is completed the Function Book will enter into the legislative process where it will go to the Council of Advice, thereafter it can be enacted through “National Decree” by His Excellency Eugene Holiday.

Minister Richardson is pleased with the progress made and classified it as a milestone for the Ministry of Justice and its employees.

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Several officers of KPSM tested positive for the corona virus

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In an effort to continuously maintain transparency with the community, the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) would like to inform the community of Sint Maarten that several officers have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus over the last few days.

In following the CPS guidelines, these colleagues have since been in isolation and their team members, who were possibly in close contact, have been quarantined.

The building where the officers were working was immediately disinfected/sanitized.

KPSM in cooperation with CPS at the moment is following CPS front liners protocol which entails that most workers of KPSM will be have the opportunity to get tested. This in a repeatedly effort to keep the organization operational for providing safety and security for the community at large.

KPSM members are being urged to comply with the social distancing protocols and that of the World Health Organization as much as possible, both during service and out of service.

These measures include:

Washing your hands often

Limit social gatherings and time spent in crowded places,

Wearing of masks

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

The colleagues who tested positive are doing well considering the circumstances in which they find themselves at the moment. (KPSM)

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SMMC launches Pain Management Clinic under Dr. Karen Schmid

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is proud to announce the start of its Pain Management Clinic and the addition of Pain Management to the current medical specialties offered. In medicine, Pain Management falls under the Anesthesiology.

During operations or in trauma, Anesthesiologists use Anesthesia to treat acute pain. At the Pain Management Clinic and within the Pain Management specialty, the focus lies in treating patients who experience chronic (long-standing) benign pain and Oncological (Cancer) pain. Treatment options within the specialty aim to eliminate pain or to help patients achieve an acceptable level of pain in an effort to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Pain has an influence on a patient’s daily life. It can affect their mood, behavior, condition, social life and their home and work life. Conversely, the aforementioned aspects also influence pain and as such, pain treatment is often multidisciplinary.

A patient’s course of treatment is approached from different angles and discussed with different specialists and care providers such as Physical Therapists, Neurologists, Oncologists and others to ensure the best possible outcome suitable for the patient and their lifestyle.

Dr. Karen Schmid, an Anesthesiologist/Pain Specialist, assisted SMMC in setting up the Pain Management Clinic. Dr. Schmid received her medical education in Suriname at the Anton de Kom University after which she went on to complete her residency in Anesthesiology at the Academic Hospital in Paramaribo. She continued on in the Netherlands at the University Medical Center in Utrecht where she also completed her Chronic Pain Management training program.

When asked about what brought her to St. Maarten, Dr. Schmid replied “the beautiful nature especially the bright blue sea and the green hills that lure you to go for a hike. I am really enjoying the island and working at SMMC so far”.  

SMMC’s Pain Management Clinic caters to patients experiencing chronic pain, spine-related pain (neck and low back pain), Oncological (cancer) pain, Neuropathic (nerve) pain, Fibromyalgia, facial pain, pain after shingles, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS, previously called Dystrophy) and a host of other pain complaints that may affect a patient’s daily life.

The Pain Management Clinic offers different types of treatment options to decrease pain to an acceptable level, depending on the pain diagnosis and these include the use of pain medication, injections and nerve blocks and local treatments (for example TENS, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation).

“In my short time on the island, I’ve already observed chronic lower back pain to be a big health issue, just like in other parts of the world. It’s our goal at the clinic to help patients manage pain in ways acceptable for them and most important, to improve their quality of life”, she concluded.  

Clinic hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 4:00pm and patients who wish to make an appointment at the Pain Management Clinic must have a referral letter (no older than six months) from a General Practitioner (House Doctor) or another specialist. Appointments can be made from Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm by calling + (1-721) 543-1111 extension 1378 or 1379.

The start of the Pain Management Clinic brings SMMC closer to their mission to provide quality care, close to home for the population of St. Maarten and the surrounding islands. 

Dr. Karen Schmid performing a spinal nerve root block

Dr. Schmid performing a spinal nerve root block using X-ray on a patient with lower back pain.

 

 

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