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PJIAE secures 5,000 Protective N-95 masks for medical professionals at the frontline of St. Maarten’s fight against COVID-19 infections

(L to R) Executive Consultant, Emile van der Weerd, CEO, Brian Mingo, Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and COVID-19 Task Force Leader, Connally Connor premiers the new stock of the I-95 masks.

Simpsonbay, St. Maarten (Wednesday, March 25, 2020) – Airport officials at PJIAE have secured 5,000 (N-95) masks for medical and staff after overcoming impossible odds to get them to St. Maarten.

While doctors and nurses globally, continue to complain about the chronic shortage of protective masks, similar shortages at health care facilities on the island will soon be wiped out – thanks to PJIAE where Airport officials personally met a KLM flight from the Netherlands on Tuesday, with a shipment of masks on board.

According to PJIAE CEO, Mr. Brian Mingo, N-95 protective masks have been obtained with the help of counterpart officials at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands.

The specialized protective masks were ordered by the Airport authority for its own use more than six weeks ago when the airport began to make its own contingency plans in the event of a worsening scenario regarding the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

"Somehow our order of protective masks was delayed because of the worldwide shortage, but when we explained the dire situation that our own medical teams on St. Maarten were finding themselves with a shortage of masks, Schiphol did the generous thing and filled part of our order from their own needed supplies," said Mr. Mingo.

The Airport chief said he was "most grateful" to Schiphol, not only as a corporate partner to the Airport, but also as a supportive company, assisting another company where it can. He appealed to other companies on St. Maarten to follow this example of assisting each other to help contain the spread of the virus on the island.

"It is in the best interest of all of us to work together as one by following the instructions of the Prime Minister and government and most of all by following the health practices and especially by practicing social distancing, washing of hands and keeping hands away from our faces," said Mr. Mingo.

He said in the case of the respirator masks for the Health Sector, he believes the medical teams there who are currently in the frontline of treating sick patients and keeping the virus at bay in the isolation units are deserving of any help they can get.

"It is possible for some persons to work from home or remain at home and not be exposed, but there are also those persons who, due to the nature of their work, have to be out every day and are facing the risk of infection every day and are also putting their loved-ones and families at risk as a result. Anything we can do to help minimize the risk for them, is not just good corporate citizenship, but just good sense," continued the Airport CEO Mr. Mingo.

Mr. Mingo said while he was able to make good use of his contacts at Schiphol Airport to secure the shipment of face masks for St. Maarten’s medical personnel, it was also the persistent work of PJIAE’s Safety and Security Officer, Mr. Connally Connor and Executive Consultant, Mr. Emile van der Weerd, who did not give up on their attempts to locate the specially designed masks when they were told time and again that none were presently available.

"Mr. Connor is also head of the COVID-19 Task Force at PJIAE which we put together in mid- February in anticipation of these developments," said Mr. Mingo. He said with the assistance of Mr. Connor and his team, various protocols have been put into place at PJIAE to protect personnel, visitors, members of the public.

Offloading of shipment of N-95 respiratory masks from KLM flight to St. Maarten

"We recently walked the Prime Minister and other government officials through these protocols that we have put in place and she was satisfied that we are taking all the necessary precautionary steps we can to help contain the spread of the virus, at least from this port of entry," continued Mr. Mingo. Among the steps taken at PJIAE:

• Managing the spread and risk of COVID-19 to all passengers and visitors to and from PJIAE including the installation of an isolation unit and 12 new hand wash stations.

• Mitigating and managing the impact on the economy of St. Maarten together with the Prime Minister, the EOC and international COVID-19 agencies.

PJIAE Executive Consultant, Mr. Emile van de Weerd said the presentation of protective masks to the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is really a call to action for other companies on the island to play their part and continue to play their part in a combined effort to contain the COVID-19 for obvious economic and social reasons. He especially appealed to hotel owners and the hospitality sector to follow the example of major hotel chains around the world who have also taken amazing steps to assist their respective communities to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"We are already seeing how hospitals and other medical facilities worldwide can quickly become swamped through lack of resources to accommodate large incidents of infections in the community, therefore we have to be especially careful to follow government guidelines and protocols together in a concerted way," said Mr. Emile van de Weerd. The Airport advisor said the efforts made by Mr. Brian Mingo to secure delivery of the N-95 respirator masks should also not be under stated. "The CEO was dogged in his determination and motivated us to find a way when it appeared that no way could be found to have them deliver to St. Maarten this week," said Mr. Emile van der Weerd.

Mr. Brian Mingo said of the PJIAE gesture, "In the end we are all in this together. If we can all do our part to keep the spread to a minimum, we can quicker recover and rebuild our airport, our economy and our St. Maarten," he said.

The Airport chief concluded that the protective masks will be delivered directly to the Ministry of Health (VSA) so that distribution can be centralized in a coordinated and safe way.