St. Maarten Government issues ebola travel ban

POSTED: 10/28/14 9:28 PM

St. Maarten – The government has issued a travel ban to everyone who has traveled within the past 21 days to, from and through the countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ban is related to the outbreak of the ebola virus in West Africa. Public Health Minister Cornelius de Weever addressed the situation in a press statement that explains the scope of the outbreak and the reason for the travel ban.

The ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The current outbreak it is believed originated in Guinea in December 2013.  The outbreak has reached community transmission and impacts two additional countries, namely, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In August 2014, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared that the ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an extraordinary event and a public health risk to other countries; that the possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious; ebola is considered a public health emergency of international concern.

“The Government of Sint Maarten has been working to put the necessary plans and protocols in place along with our stakeholders and partners, in order to protect the public health of the Sint Maarten community.  These plans are in line with our international obligations to the World Health Organization with respect to international health regulations,” Minister de Weever stated.

On October 23, the West African country of Mali reported its first confirmed case of ebola.  The WHO has officially declared Senegal and Nigeria as ebola free.  This is a reminder that this disease can be contained and defeated.

The situation surrounding Ebola is fluent and one must be prepared to take the necessary measures deemed necessary to keep Sint Maarten safe.

“Per advice of the health officials of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, Sint Maarten hereby issues a travel ban (entry and transit) to all persons that have travelled in the past 21 days to, from and through the following countries where the outbreak is not contained, namely: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the minister’s statement says.

“This travel ban will also apply to persons who have been in contact with a suspected or confirmed ebola case from affected ebola countries. The travel ban will remain in effect until the areas and countries are declared ebola free by the World Health Organization.”

For boats and cruise ships coming in goes that no persons on board that fit the profile will be allowed to come to shore and no passenger on the boat or ship will be allowed to come off the ship.

“Incoming flights with suspect cases will be allowed to land, refuel and return to the country of origin,” the minister states. “A person or persons returning from ebola affected countries that are registered on Sint Maarten will be allowed to enter Sint Maarten under the condition that they are quarantined for at least 21 days upon arrival.”

“You cannot get ebola easily,” the statement continues.  “Ebola is not an airborne disease spread by breathing air. You can’t get it through casual contact with someone. The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids (eg. blood, bodily secretions) of someone with symptoms.  The incubation period from time of infection to symptoms is two to 21 days.”

The measure taken “is to ensure that the people of Sint Maarten are protected and that the economy of the country is not impacted negatively in any form or fashion with respect to the ebola virus disease.”


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