My fellow citizens and residents:
On Wednesday of this week, the Chief Medical Officer announced that St. Kitts and Nevis had recorded an additional case of COVID-19, bringing to 46 the total number of confirmed cases of the virus in the Federation.
This case had no history of travel but a detailed contact tracing exercise was launched to determine if there were others who were exposed and to identify the most likely source of infection of case 46.
This evening I wish to update you on the present situation.
Through the Ministry of Health a robust contact tracing exercise began on Wednesday May 19, 2021, and revealed the following:
· Over 22 persons related to the recently confirmed cases have been placed in quarantine and tested.
· Over the last two days, 315 close contacts of these cases were identified and tested.
As of tonight 229 results were returned from the lab, 226 were negative and 3 are positive. We are awaiting results of 86 samples.
This is a mixed blessing and we thank the almighty God that through our extensive contact tracing the majority of persons tested are negative.
One more case of COVID-19 is one case to many but we are grateful that it was only 3 and we have discovered the most likely contact source of case 46.
The details of the cases are as follows:
Case #47 is an imported case. The individual is an inbound passenger from Argentina who arrived in the Federation on May 9, 2021. The individual is stable, and in isolation at a COVID-19 certified hotel.
Case #48 is a national who also does not have a travel history but had significant contact with case #47.
Case #49 is a national who is a close relative of case #46.
In summary the investigations have revealed that case #46 also had significant contact with imported case #47 and case #48 works at the same facility and may have had similar exposure. Case #49 is a household contact of case #46.
The process of contact tracing and testing will continue.
We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that this virus does not find a home in our community.
With the continued threat of the virus, individually and collectively we need to make changes that will continue to keep us safe.
I therefore wish to update you on my Government’s plans to continue to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy as we battle the COVID-19 virus. My priority as your Prime Minister and that of your Team Unity Government is to ensure the health, safety and security of every citizen and resident of this Federation.
As a result of this, my Government accepts the following recommendations of the Health Emergency Operating Committee (HEOC) which is headed by the Chief Medical Officer. From 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday May 22nd, the following applies:
1. Events – No mass events or jam sessions will be allowed as they have the potential to be super spreaders.
2. Sporting activities – Over the next two weeks – football matches and sporting activities can be held only with permission from the Commissioner of Police. However, only fully vaccinated patrons with identification will be allowed entry. All the other COVID-19 prevention and control measures must be observed.
3. Bars/ The Strip /Night Life – bars can be allowed to operate up until 12:00 midnight daily, with the last hour of operation being 11:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. Bars should be closed between 12:00 midnight until 6:00 am for at least the next two weeks. No bands are allowed at bars; however moderate house music is acceptable. Please note that all COVID-19 prevention and control measures must be complied with.
4. Bus/Public Transport (ferries) – There should be enforcement of the COVID-19 prevention and control measures. These are the wearing of face mask on entering the bus or ferry and for the full duration of the trip, hand sanitization at entrance. Windows should be opened as much as possible. The ferry operators should continue with temperature checks, along with documentation of the contact information of all travellers.
5. Church, Weddings and Funerals can be held and conducted in a responsible manner – contact tracing information, wearing face masks, hand sanitization, and adequate physical distancing must be observed.
6. Beaches- No mass events or beach fetes are allowed until further notice.
It will still take some time for us to defeat COVID-19. The developments of the past couple of days show how quickly COVID-19 can spread. They show that we cannot take anything for granted as we battle the virus. They reinforce that our critical defence against the virus is to be vaccinated. It only takes one person to create a spread.
We can take some reassurance that the processes and systems we have in place to detect infections early, and deal with them, are working. Our testing process is working. This means we can quickly identify who may be carrying the virus and ensure they receive the proper attention. Our tracing system is working. This means that we can identify those who may have been exposed to the virus early and provide them with the care and attention they need.
Our health professionals have been doing an excellent job in executing our life first strategy.
They have been working proactively and effectively to protect the health and safety of our community.
We have a new weapon in our battle against the novel Corona virus. A powerful weapon that we all can access. This weapon is immunisation.
I want to stress this is not my vaccination programme, neither is it Team Unity’s vaccination programme. This is YOUR vaccination programme!
It is the programme of the people, to protect the health and safety of the people.
I have stated, and will continue to state, that this is the best way for us to put COVID-19 behind us.
The resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases clearly demonstrates why vaccination matters. I strongly urge that if you have not already done so, you get vaccinated now! To help facilitate this we have extended the opening hours for Health Centres as follows:
Saturday May 22nd- 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Monday May 24th- 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
For the next 2 weeks our Health Centres will be opened from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
While there may be individuals who choose to take a cynical view of vaccinations, their opinions should not influence right-minded persons from taking the vaccine in an effort to protect themselves, their families and the most vulnerable among us.
Our vulnerable citizens and residents include persons under the age of 18, those over age 80, pregnant women and individuals with auto-immune conditions.
If you are serious about stopping COVID-19, then you must be vaccinated!
The message to our people is clear, don’t wait, vaccinate!
Don’t wait to protect your family and loved ones – vaccinate.
Don’t wait to get the economy working – vaccinate.
Don’t wait to get back to your way of life – vaccinate.
Before I close, let me update you on the current vaccination status of our Federation. I am advised that as of today, May 21, 2021, 46.5 percent of the target population is now covered with the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine. Additionally, 17.3 percent of the target population is now covered with the second dose of the vaccine.
Over the coming days we will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with the necessary updates. I urge you to only accept information from official government sources.
May God bless you and your loved ones.
May God continue to protect the people of St Kitts and Nevis and keep all of us safe.