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St. Maarten prime minister updates on response to Chikungunya Virus

MONDAY, 13 JANUARY 2014

~ Says island safe for residents, visitors ~

PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Friday informed the population on the state of affairs regarding the Chikungunya Virus and its effects on the population of the Country.

The Prime Minister explained Government’s response to the virus and the cooperation currently on-going with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The PM informed that the Chikungunya, or CHIKV virus which is carried by the same mosquito that carries the Dengue virus, is being addressed extensively by government.

“The Government of St. Maarten has an emergency response team that is con- stantly assessing the situation and regularly updates various institutions regarding how to address the issue. Although the virus was first established on French St. Martin as the old saying goes the gale does not stop at the frontier and definitely mosquitoes do not stop [there either-Ed].

There are now established cases on St. Maarten and our medical health sector is working very closely with PAHO and WHO on the best ways to combat the vi- rus and keep St. Maarten healthy for its residents and visitors. WHO virologist dr. Glen Washington is also as- sisting the country with the response and the Council of Ministers is being updated on the developments,” emphasized the Prime Minister.

The PM also highlighted that communication and co- operation is essential in the widespread responds to the virus. “The focus right now is not only on communicating the steps which can be taken by all individuals to combat the virus but also important is the message stressing co-operation across the board.

The emphasis is on all Ministries working together to understand the potential of this disease if left unchecked. In addition to that the individual responsibility; while we should not be pushing the panic but-ton, we should all share the responsibility as far as curbing the spread of the Chikungunya virus. Government will be engaging the community councils in coordinating wide scale neigh- bourhood clean-ups where potential breeding areas for the mosquitoes can be elimi- nated. There is also a specific role for our Minister of VROMI and Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs,” com- mented the PM.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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