THERE IS HIGH RISK OF COVID-19 REINTRODUCED TO FEDERATION IF AND WHEN BORDERS RE-OPEN; COUNTRY CONTINUES TO PREPARE

Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 12, 2020 (SKNIS): Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws has stated that when the federation’s borders reopen, there is a high risk of COVID-19 being reintroduced. However, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to respond to the pandemic even though there are zero active cases.

Dr. Laws made this statement during the NOEC COVID-19 press briefing held on June 10. She noted that since there are zero active cases the risk of exposure to the virus within the closed borders is reducing.

“However, based on the latest situation report coming out of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), we are being told that the risk of further cases occurring in the Caribbean region remains very high,” she said. “And you and I are aware that the risk of further cases occurring further afield is also extremely high. So, it follows that if and when our borders reopen there is a high risk of the virus being reintroduced into the federation.”

Dr. Laws stated that the COVID-19 response continues to be guided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (PAHO) and the Federal Ministry of Health.

The Chief Medical Officer outlined some of the measures being utilized at the moment.

“We continue to coordinate, plan and monitor our COVID-19 response,” she said. “Our risk communication continues and so we continue to engage the public and share with you the latest information regarding COVID-19 and this forum is one such means of engagement.”

“Active surveillance continues whereby we are continuously monitoring for our patients who would be accessing or seeking care for COVID like symptoms. Our response teams continue to be trained,” said Dr. Laws.

It was noted that new equipment at the JNF General Hospital Laboratory has been received to aid in the COVID-19 response.

“In terms of our laboratory capacity it is with pleasure that I share that the Ministry of Health and in particular the JNF General Hospital Laboratory just received a molecular machine whereby we can offer the molecular tests at our public institution.”

Dr. Laws stated that infection and prevention control has been continued in terms of capacity building for the response team.

Essential health services have also continued to be delivered, said Dr. Laws.

The Chief Medical Officer emphasized the importance of persons continuing to adhere to the physical and social distancing measures.

She stated that the Ministry is continuing to prepare the country for the potential of a second wave of the virus.

“At present we are reviewing our response so far. In other words, we are reviewing what we would have done between January to present,” said Dr. Laws. “We are noting our successes, we are noting the gaps and we are plugging the gaps and in so doing we are strengthening our health services. We continue training our staff and so capacity building is a priority as we continue our preparedness and response for COVID-19.”

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