Peter Greenberg interviews PM Harris about COVID-19 response

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Peter Greenberg and St.Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Timothy Harris

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Mr. Greenberg is an Emmy-winning investigative reporter and producer known in the travel industry as “The Travel Detective.” He is the Travel Editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning.

During the 20-minute interview, the details on how the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis managed and contained the spread of COVID-19 were shared by the Prime Minister with Greenberg and his listeners.

Prime Minister Dr. Harris said that early planning and implementation by local health experts, as well as a comprehensive education programme, was critical in minimizing the risks to the population of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Very early on, our Chief Medical Officer saw what was evolving around the world and in China, (which) had potential for us in the region,” said Hon. Dr. Harris. “She put a small team together under what we call the Health Emergency Operations Centre.

“That core team was monitoring and developing protocols very early in case COVID was to arrive in St. Kitts and Nevis. When in fact it did, we were ahead in terms of our knowledge and ahead in terms of our structure. Immediately, we expanded what was then a health response to a broader national response, which we call the all-of-society approach.

“Very quickly, when some countries were vacillating about whether or not to close borders, we closed ours,” he said. “We engaged in a number of actions to prevent and contain the spread, such as locking down the country for a time. All these things that we did hurt in the beginning, but it also shocked the country very early into realizing the danger [of this disease].”

Greenberg referred to the St. Kitts and Nevis government’s success in being able to make the distinction between life and livelihood very early on and make the necessary tough decisions such as closing the Federation’s borders to commercial travel.

“Our strategy from day one had been that it had to be life first,” said Dr. Harris. “Some other countries were talking about livelihoods and the economy. For us, if there are not people who are healthy, then the economy could not grow. We looked beyond the short term to see that [closing the borders] was necessary if we were to preserve life. We saw that as the most critical mandate of the Government – life before livelihood.”

Those critical early decisions led to St. Kitts and Nevis now being considered by the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a very low risk destination.

The full episode with Prime Minister Harris will be accessible on the website, www.petergreenberg.com, from Monday November 2, under the section ‘Eye on Travel’ Earlier this year, Greenberg visited St. Kitts and Nevis, where he recorded an episode of his popular show, ‘Eye on Travel.’

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