BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 31st January 2020) – Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Hazel Laws says the health risk from the coronavirus to the Federation of St.Kitts-Nevis is low.
“The health risk from this new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to the people of the Federation and the wider Caribbean is still deemed to be low. However, we must take proactive preparedness precautions,” she informed in a statement issued on Friday 24th January 2020.
In touching on the Federation’s preparedness precautions, Dr. Laws said the Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to recommend good personal hygiene practices to prevent the common cold/flu: – Hand-washing; – Covering the nose and mouth with tissue or flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing; – Avoiding close contact to anyone with cold or flu symptoms; and – Remaining at home from school if one has a cold or flu.
Secondly, she disclosed that it must be noted that all incoming air travellers to the Federation must complete question # 17 of the “Welcome to St. Kitts and Nevis” Immigration/Customs Form.
“This question requires a listing of all countries travellers may have visited in the past six (6) months. Incoming travellers from Mainland China will be asked to provide travel history, history of exposure to the virus, and contact information,” Dr. Laws informed.
According to this top health official, the Federal Ministry of Health wishes to inform the public that there will be increased surveillance of all incoming travellers at our ports of entry (POEs), particularly involving all international flights and the following three (3) regional hubs – Antigua, St. Maarten and Puerto Rico.
In providing some background information on the virus, she shared that there is an outbreak of a new coronavirus respiratory infection taking place on Mainland China.
“It started in Wuhan City, China, which is the epicentre, and as of today Friday, January 24, 2020, over eight (8) countries have reported confirmed cases to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The latest two countries to report confirmed cases are the United States of America (USA) and France. Thus far, there are over 830 cases (suspected and confirmed) and approximately twenty-six (26) deaths,” she stated.
Dr. Laws went on to point out that person to person transmission is occurring and older persons with chronic diseases are seriously impacted. Symptoms, she said, include fever, chills, runny nose, muscle pains, and difficulty breathing and coughing which may signal that the person has a lower respiratory illness.
As told, the office of the CMO has stressed that The National Pandemic Influenza/Virus Preparedness Plan is being updated and that the public will be updated on this new coronavirus infection as often as may be required.
To this media house’s knowledge, there has been no change nor update in regard to the content of this most recent information.