Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 16, 2020 (SKNIS): Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris announced on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, that the 24-hour lock-down restrictions will be eased further next week, allowing four days of partial curfew instead of two.
This means that persons will have greater freedom to shop and conduct essential business on Mondays and Tuesdays and then again on Thursdays on Fridays. Importantly, the hours permitting movement will be between 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. as has been the standard. The curfew resumes at all other times and dates of the week.
The National COVID-19 Task Force recommended to the Cabinet to extend the days of the partial curfew. Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France General Hospital, is a member of this task force. At today’s National Emergency Operations Centre COVID-19 Daily Briefing, which followed the prime minister’s address, Dr. Wilkinson shared some insight behind the recommendation to the Cabinet.
“We know that the first case was diagnosed on the 25th of March, but the virus we know actually entered the country on the 18th, and so today we have gone clearly through two incubation periods that is two 14-day incubation periods,” he stated.
Case references from other countries battling the Novel Coronavirus pandemic show that the virus multiplies very quickly. However, in St. Kitts and Nevis, the extensive protocols of rapid identification and testing, quarantine, comprehensive contact tracing, and strict isolation have yielded positive results. To date, the twin-island federation has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 10 in St. Kitts and four in Nevis. All patients are doing well and recovering.
“We were able to suppress the curve, that is, decrease the number of persons who were exposed to the virus by our interventions, and so I believe that we are ahead of the game and I am happy for that,” Dr. Wilkinson stated.
The medical chief of staff added that the decision is in keeping with six criteria established by the World Health Organization (WHO) that countries should use before lifting restrictions.
These are: 1) Controlling the transmission of the virus; 2) Ensuring that the local health systems are able of detect, test, isolate and treat every COVID-19 case and to trace every contact; 3) Ensuring that outbreak risks are minimized in special care settings such as healthcare facilities, nursing homes, prisons; 4) Instituting preventative measures in workplaces, schools and other places where essential services are offered; 5) Managing the risk of importing the virus from other countries/territories; and 6) Fully educating, engaging and empowering communities to live under the new normal.
“Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, we checked every single one,” Dr. Wilkinson stated.
He cautioned, however, that the threat from COVID-19 remains. As such, all residents should continue social distancing measures, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, boosting one’s own immune system, and wearing face masks when in public.
“We are not saying that we are not going to get more positives [COVID-19 cases] but what we were able to do is to suppress the curve such that even if we continue to get more positives, they will be coming at such a rate that our health system can take care of them,” Dr. Wilkinson indicated.