BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 20th March 2020) – “We take water for granted but guess what? Keeping yourself adequately hydrated can make the difference between getting over the virus without any problems or getting very ill and have to go in the hospital.”

So advised Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws while speaking a government’s town hall meeting held on Tuesday 17th March 2020 at the Newton Ground Primary School on the topic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) while encouraging citizens and residents to drink “enough water” and advising individuals with underlying medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes to visit their private doctor, as part of her presentation.

To date, St. Kitts-Nevis has not confirmed any case of the pandemic virus while neigbouring islands including Antigua and St. Martin have.

Notably, in general, the common recommended daily water intake to prevent dehydration is eight 8-ounce glasses which measures about 2 liters or half a gallon.

According to Dr. Laws: “It’s very very important to keep well- hydrated because your body’s organ systems work efficiently and optimally when you keep well-hydrated.”

The CMO pointed out that “it’s important to note that serious illness is associated with older age for example persons 70 and older and it’s also associated with persons with underlying chronic medical conditions. Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, renal failure and chronic lung disease like asthma and so I want to plead to those of you who have diabetes and hypertension and asthma, you know what you need to do?”

She continued: “I need you to make sure you go to the clinic or go to your private doctor and make sure that you have your medication, be compliant with your medication; in other words take your medication as prescribed by the doctor? Why? Because in so doing your blood sugar will be controlled, your blood sugar values will be normal, your blood pressure values will be normal and then your body’s immune system will be able to fight off this infection so it’s very important if you’re chronically ill, you can still boost your own immune system to try and fight off this infection.”

COVID-19, according to medical reports, is not widespread amongst children.

 “Information tells us that the majority of the patients who get this infection are adults. When you look at those in China who got the infection, only two per cent of the individuals were under the age of 19 so what it is telling me is that this infection is not prevalent amongst children and for me that’s reassuring,” Dr. Laws stated.

“Approximately 80 per cent of persons who get this infection, they only experience a mild form of illness…a mild clinical course and then they recover without any complications. In other words, most persons who get this infection, they recover without much problems; some of us may not even have any symptoms and for me again this is reassuring. Fifteen per cent of individual, however, will go on to have serious illness and may require hospitalisation and five per cent will require intensive care unit admission, “she added.

The top health official shared that to date there “isn’t any specific treatment that the physician or doctor can give you to treat this infection. They have tried some medication like anti HIV and anti-flu medication but these medication, they do not work for all persons who have the disease.’

She went on to say there is no vaccine to date noting that “there are some vaccine candidates on the market but right now there isn’t a vaccine that we can give you to protect you from this virus.”

Dr. Laws reminded persons about proper hygiene indicating that hand cleanliness is top.

“ Washing hand regularly is the best defense against this virus especially after touching dirty door handles or counter tops when you go to pay bills … wash your hands properly with soap and water…you have to wash your front, your back  and in between for no less than 20 seconds.”

Individuals are also being urged to keep their hands out of their face-avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth- because that is a way of introducing the virus into one’s blood system, avoid close contact with anyone who has cold and flu symptoms maintain  safe distance from anyone coughing and sneezing.

The CMO stated that “those who are coughing and sneezing should wear face mask.”

Symptoms associated with the COVID-19 are fever,  dry cough  and shortness of breath being the most common  while other indicators of the virus  are runny nose, muscle aches and pains, conjunctivitis (redness o the eyes), vomiting and diarrhea.

qAs it relates the incubation period which is the time between individuals picking up the infection and showing symptoms “like when you start to cough and when you mount a fever, it’s usually 14 days. However, the information tells us that it can be as along as 21 to 24 days.”