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Oct 31st
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DEALING WITH THE THREAT OF EBOLA WHEN TRAVELING.

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I am not a medical expert of any kind. I am hardly a travel expert as there are many more people who have traveled more than I have in my entire lifetime. I am however a travel sales consultant and many of you are clients of mines in one form or the other and therefore I feel compelled to write about dealing with the threat of ebola when traveling as I will undoubtedly get questioned about this as more travel warnings are being issued in regards to curtailing the spread of the ebola virus.

For a detailed description of the Ebola virus and a clinical analysis of the Ebola virus as a disease you can visit the Wikipedia webpage on the Ebola virus disease. Important is to note that... "The virus is acquired by contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected human or [..] animal. This may also occur by direct contact with a recently contaminated item. Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_disease

The chances of you contracting the Ebola virus is infinitely smaller than the chances of you getting run over by a car while crossing the street. With that being said, it does not mean that I don't think you should not be careful about contracting this disease, especially if you are traveling in general or traveling specifically to a region affected by the Ebola virus. It pays to be careful and it pays to be aware of your surroundings and to take adequate measures to limit your chances to exposure in whatever form that may be prevalent at your travel destination.

But I certainly would not advise to actively participate in nor perpetuate the mass hysteria that is currently spreading around the globe into certain countries like a virus on to itself. Over the years we have had all kinds of diseases spread faster via word of mouth, the media and through the world wide web, from the Mad Cow Disease to SARS to Chikungunya and now Ebola.

The fact of the matter is that - whether we are traveling or not - we all should remain calm and be rational about this virus and the disease it causes. Adding fuel to the flames of mass hysteria will not help anyone and it certainly will not bring aid any quicker to those who need it most of all. The last thing we need is an isolationist movement that in my opinion will only lead to a quicker spread of the virus and the disease. Aid workers and medical people must be afforded the time to work diligently in peace, with focus and energy in combating the disease and the unbridled spread of the virus. What we are presently seeing in the mass media is simply a distraction from the real issue. And that is that, much like Polio in its heyday, Ebola is another virus for which I am certain a vaccine can be developed - if not already - and effectively deployed to stop the spread of this virus dead in its tracks.... if we just stay calm!

So how do we deal with the threat of Ebola when traveling? My answer is simply to go about your everyday business and plan your travels according to your needs. Be mindful of the places you travel to and pay attention to your surroundings, your personal hygiene, and that of others, and most of all, stay healthy! And remember... you need to have a ticket in order to travel. You know where to book your next travel ticket.... Online at http://www.lets-travel.com.

Terrance Rey

Last Updated ( Monday, 27 October 2014 21:33 )

 

NATIONAL STATEMENT BY THE SINT MAARTEN MINISTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT & LABOUR HON. CORNELIUS DE WEEVER.

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My Fellow Sint Maarteners:

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 (WHO) 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.

On October 23, the West African country of Mali reported its first confirmed case of Ebola. Senegal and Nigeria have officially been declared by the WHO 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.
"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.
"In addition: for boats and cruise ships coming in: no boat or ship that has a person or persons on board that fit the profile will be allowed to come to shore;
"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.
"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."
In conclusion, you cannot get Ebola easily. 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.

This 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.

Thank You
God Bless the Sint Maarten nation

Monday, October 27, 2014
Sint Maarten, West Indies

Last Updated ( Monday, 27 October 2014 21:35 )

OPEN APPEAL TO The ‘New Guard’ Politicians.

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Step up to the plate now- chart your own future and save our island shame and more intervention.

At the time that I am busy writing this letter, it is of course not yet known what a 'smashing success' the march organized by the 'People United for True Democracy (PUTD) later will turn out to be – if any at all.
So - all I can say, at this time is; Guys - wish you luck.
However - at this time, I will take the calculated risk to doubt it becoming a really, popular, non-political 'uprising' against 'neo-colonial Dutch' intervention.
Nevertheless, whatever the outcome of the 'March' , it will not fundamentally change the position of the Dutch Government towards the overall political situation of the 'Friendly-Island'.
If any change in that regards can be expected - I again put my reputation on the line by saying – it will NOT be for the better for the 'Old-guard' politicians – period.
The reason in fact is very simple.
Our current 'body politic' has reached an absolutely all-time low level of trust and confidence - not only among the Dutch Government in general – but worse yet – among our own St. Martin native population, residents and key-institutions as well.
Now, for sure there will be those, who would want to also blame the Dutch for being 'corrupt' and who would want to argue all the day long, who is/are to blame for this very serious crisis and breach of trust in the body politic across the board.
Not to mention those, who are trying ever so hard to even convince themselves, that 'We can solve our own corruption practices ourselves'.
Really ? Like firing all prison-guards and management, of point-Blanche so that the prisoners can guard themselves and guarantee the public that they will not escape to commit some of the very same crime they are now sitting for.
SO, let's now get serious and face reality and facts.
Fact is - it is a fact that - yes very unfortunately – there is a very great distrust among all involved in our society and far beyond in the 'Old-Guard' politicians across the board.
To make matters worse - those who have resorted - in recent times to 'jump ship'- in total disregard of the trust they received from voters - have significantly contributed towards the explosion of distrust in all politicians.
The most relevant question therefore now is - ' St. Maarten Quo vadis ?
Where do we as a society, as a people and as proud, conscious 'New-Guard'- politicians go from here.
Here being the place and time, where and when the Dutch Government has decided to take a more active role in guaranteeing better governance on St. Maarten – which some now- conveniently and opportunistically- term 'neo-colonialism'.
Also, the place and time, where and when the trust and confidence in the 'Old-guard' politicians by the local community, as well as international bodies has taken a severe 'beating' as never before.
The place and time, being also where and when ALL St. Marten people, locally as well as in the Netherlands and elsewhere have to endure shame and disgrace of being associated with all things corrupt.
The place and time, where and when also our young, 'New Guard'- politicians and young professionals , are being in many cases - UNJUSTLY connected with presumed acts of corruption and criminal activities they never actually were responsible for
And so, we can go on and on...
One thing is for sure.
Whether the 'Dutch' really had any 'colonial' agenda that would lead them to intervene or not – by us not starting to define ourselves as a people and starting to chart a new course for ourselves – they will AUTOMATICALLY get far more grip on everything on the island than if there was an alternative a 'fire-wall'.
For that reason, last week on Facebook, I made an appeal to all 'New Guard'-politicians across all party-lines to come together is an effort to start charting a new and more responsible way of Governing their country.
The response on Facebook was truly humbling to me.
Many young people responded incredibly positive.
Although, we do not want in any way to influence their possible thinking, we feel that as seniors, we have a responsibility towards empowering and inspiring our youngsters and young professionals to take control of their own destiny and of the destiny of their won country.
It can not be so - that because of the attitude of my generation of people and politicians in which we have created a situation of distrust and of negativity for our next generation, that they should become the victims.
Therefore, the least we of the St. Martin grassroots People Movement feel we can do, is to take the initiative to bring interested youngsters/politicians from North and South St. Martin together.
The idea would be to encourage them and where and when requested by them to assist in setting themselves up as the ' New Guard'- leaders of this country.
Eventually, they should work towards regaining the lost trust and confidence in politics and Government by our won people I the first place.
Also, eventually, they should put together a very professional delegation to go to the Netherlands, France, the UN, the Caricom, schools and other institutions on the island etc.
To us, this is the sensible action to take now, as opposed to allow the credibility and future career of our youngsters to be 'tainted' by them being used in a useless 'tit-for- tat' against the 'Dutch' – that is a lost proposition.
Needless to emphasize, that our St. Martin Grassroots People Movement is more than willing to assist our next generation of political leaders in the process.
Who knows, if The Governor, The UN, The Dutch Parliament and others, would also be willing to assist in this process of reconciliation and in regaining and rebuilding trust and hope in the future for all on the island.
In ending, allow me to thank the very many bloggers on Facebook for their very positive and encouraging response and we look forward contributing to our young people being able to be the best they can and to define themselves as such, as opposed to be associated with corruption, nepotism and the like.
God bless and guide our 'New-guard'- Politicians, young professionals and youngsters in general.

With respect,
Drs. Leopold James
President of the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement

Last Updated ( Monday, 27 October 2014 18:42 )

Caravanserai/Alegria Timeshare Owners Affected.

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Many of St. Maarten's timeshare owners either are affected directly or indirectly by the letter sent by the new owning company of what was known as the Caravanserai , which letter stated that their timeshare rights would be annulled. This goes on in a domino effect to also exert a negative influence on the lives of every St. Maarten person as the major source of money in our pockets is courtesy of our main pillar tourism economy.

The St. Maarten Timeshare Association is doing everything it can to encourage our government to become engaged in this issue. We have a confirmed meeting with the Minister of Tourism and Economy, Ted Richardson, the new owner and the SMTA set for October 28th. While draft legislation was prepared by MP Leroy de Weever that would offer the St. Maarten government the ability to actively protect the interests of the timeshare owners, the current law does not offer this tool to help our tourism product.

Although we do not currently have a lot of timeshare specific laws, there are plenty of laws to protect our timeshare owners' interests. As St. Maarten is a Civil Code jurisdiction this means people must hire legal representatives to plead their case before a judge.
The government of St. Maarten can exert its influence to see if cooperation can be obtained, but it has no way to force a private entity to comply in a private matter under the current law.

The SMTA would like to outline several possible options for Caravanserai timeshare owners. The options listed are not recommendations, but rather are put out so that informed choices can be made.

  1.  Sign the Agreement sent out as is by Alegria.
  2.  Hire a law firm to represent you to enforce your timeshare rights. You can do this individually or join a group. Two law firms have communicated to SMTA their interest in providing timeshare owners seeking assistance local legal advice ‎on the matter; Lexwell Attorneys at Law and Bermon Law Offices. Individuals would pay more than if they went as a group. Contacting one of these offices should give a clear indication of the strength of any action.
  3.  Another option would be to do nothing and see what develops. Whichever way you decide, the SMTA will continue to work to make the St. Maarten timeshare product the best it can be for both our valued tourists and our society alike.

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 October 2014 13:35 )