A glimpse of the passenger departure process at Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport captured during a media tour in November 2020 (Spokesman Snap)

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 27th November 2020) – Contacts of the two travellers tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been placed in quarantine while it has been indicated that the other passengers who took the same flight as them are too.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws disclosed such information when she spoke at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing on Tuesday 24th November 2020.

“The protocols we have established have been adhered to and these protocols would have been followed along the corridor of containment between their arrival into the country at RLB International Airport and the hotel where they are staying. Contacts meaning the significant contacts of these two cases are presently being interviewed. The significant contacts are placed in quarantine. They are being tested and they will be monitored,” she commented.

According to her: “Our contact tracing system is quite robust here in the Federation.”

“All passengers who would have arrived in the Federation on this same flight last Saturday afternoon, they are in quarantine and they are confined to their rooms,” she added.

In touching on what happens in travelling, the CMO outlined the events surrounding passenger interaction.

“Let’s say you’re booked on a flight to the Federation via American Airlines or any other carrier. You would go to the international airport, you would be waiting in the departure lounge and so you would interact inevitably with passengers who are going on the same carrier and then once you are onboard, you would be sharing the same air space with the passengers on board. That three hour flight between Miami and St.Kitts-Nevis.”

Dr. Laws added: “Now if you were to say use the restroom, other passengers onboard also utilize the rest room and then once you would have landed here in St.Kitts and Nevis, there is interaction between passengers when they are disembarking and when they are making their way through RLB International Airport through the health screening unit through immigrations and customs  and then as they exit the airport and so as a result of this inevitable interaction all passengers who were onboard at this conveyance, they have been asked to remain in quarantine  confined to their rooms  while here or within  the first 14 days of their vacation in the Federation.”

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France General Hospital and member of the COVID-19 national Task Force Dr. Cameron Wilkinson is calling on members of the public to be vigilant of the pandemic.

“If we let our vigilance wear thin, we can expect to see a spike in positivity rate and an overwhelming of our healthcare system as we would be unable to capture and contain these cases leading to viral spread in our communities.”

“We need not only to focus on the increased case numbers but the containment measures as well. We have reached thus far in this fight as a nation through our collaborative efforts with the all of society approach and should not let complacency set in and erode the gains we have made in containing this virus,” he said.

Dr. Wilkinson said a progressive cutting of corners in this fight will not bring back tourism and a thriving hotel industry nor return us to the norms we were accustomed to pre-COVID-19 in a hurry.

“We first have to get through this wave with everyone alive and well with hope of building a brighter tomorrow when we have conquered the virus with an effective vaccine,” he expressed.

He also stated that he understands the frustration when people say they want to get back to the old norms saying: “I, too, want to get back there, every single member of the task force wants to get back there but it does not mean we should ignore the risks posed by COVID-19 and abandon the fight. With the virus back in the Federation, our precautionary vigilance must be greater now.”

He then urged: “We must do all we can to prevent the spread of this virus and prevent it from getting a safe haven in our homes, churches, schools and workplaces leading to community spread.”

Following the reopening of borders on Saturday 31st October, the Federation has recorded three (3) present active cases with one on Saturday 21st November and two more on Tuesday 24th November; all of whom are visitors.

Overall, there is a count of 22 cases having been recorded with 16 on St.Kitts and 6 Nevis.