BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC)— The St Kitts-Nevis coalition government Monday extended the state of emergency (SOE) by a further six months, with Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris telling Parliament it is a critical tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SOE was due to expire on July 7, but Harris said that it was being extended as part of his administration’s efforts to protect the lives and livelihoods and contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease that has now resulted in the deaths of three people in the twin-island Federation.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, we have utilized this tool to help us control the virus. Emergency powers were utilized in the first instance in March 2020, for a period of 21 days, which is the limit placed on the time span for which the Governor General can promulgate a state of emergency without the approval of the Parliament,” Harris said as he moved the resolution extending the SOE.
“Given the continuing community spread there is a need for the State of Emergency to be extended beyond July 6 as the COVID-19 pandemic still presents an existential threat to the lives and livelihoods in St Kitts and Nevis.
“Indeed, on Saturday last our Chief Medical Officer advised that a new variant which is more transmissible is present in our Federation. We have come today, ahead of the expiry date of the current state of emergency to seek an extension for a period of six months,” Prime Minister Harris said.
He told legislators that the SOE provides a sound legal anchor for the promulgation of curfews in St Kitts and Nevis that prohibit the movement of people that can help halt the spread of the disease.
“If persons stay in shelter the probability of a COVID-19 spread is significantly and dramatically reduced Mr Speaker, and this is what, in large measure, we are attempting to do now.
“I therefore want to reiterate my call for all persons in St Kitts and Nevis to stay at home including their yard space and minimize contact with others outside of their household during the period of the lockdown.”
Harris said while his administration understands that the temporary measures being implemented in the fight against COVID-19 may inconvenience many “these measures are being brought for one reason and one reason only that is to save lives”.
Latest figures show that the twin island Federation has recorded 429 cases of the virus since March last year with 127 having recovered. There have been three deaths.
Relatives of one of those who have died said she had been fully vaccinated and that they are now awaiting information from health authorities after a recent meeting.
Health officials have not publicly responded to the complaints and allegations now in the public domain.
The government has already announced a 24-hour lockdown as part of a slate of additional restrictive measures being taken to limit the movement of people, in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.