Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws during a media interview (Spokesman file)

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 8th January 2021) – Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws is calling on everyone in the Federation of St.Kitts-Nevis to make sure to consistently carry out all COVID-19 prevention measures because it is even more important to do so in light of a new version of the COVID-19 virus found to spread faster.

She made the disclosure while speaking at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Briefing on Wednesday 6th January 2020 while giving a summary in terms of what is happening globally in relation to COVID-19 status.

“If you follow what’s happening in the news you would have heard about a new variant strain of this SARS- CoV- 2 virus found in South Africa and Nigeria and a new variant strain spreading across most of England.”
 
Dr. Laws continued: “The science seems to suggest that these three strains of the SARS- 2 virus are different and so the scientists seem to have done quite a bit of work on the new variant that is circulating in the United Kingdom and what they are saying is that this new variant in the UK is highly more transmissible than the virus previous version, and because of that the UK is seeing and experiencing a surge in the number of cases.”
 
Chief Of Staff at the Joseph N. France General Hospital Dr. Cameron Wilkinson has praised the successful protocols and procedures that are in place in St.Kitts-Nevis but is warning the public against becoming complacent in this regard.


“…our fortunes can change overnight. This virus is highly infectious and it takes only one undetected imported case to lead to community spread. We have also recently learnt of a new variant that is even more infectious than the original virus although as yet, it has not proven to be more deadly.”
In relation to the new variant, he informed that four cases have already been found in Jamaica and that the “The risk of it reaching here is very high.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Laws has shared that on 5th January, the number of new daily confirmed cases in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time “and the BBC tells us that the number of patients in hospitals in the UK is 40 times higher than what they experienced during the first peak last year 2020.”
 
She pointed out that as a result of such, England is in its third national lockdown coming into force…yesterday and this may extend until approximately mid-February of this year.
 
The CMO emphasized that the new variant of the virus is more transmissible and that science is wavering between 56% to 70 %.
 
“What this means is that this version of the virus spreads more easily between persons. It spreads faster, it will infect more people and because of that death toll will increase. However, the science seems to suggest that persons do not necessarily become more ill. However, one person who is infected has the potential of spreading it to an increased number of persons,” she explained.
 
In encouraging the public to keep safe at all times, she said: “Based on all that we would have shared regarding this new variant and the fact that it spreads more easily, it’s even more important for individuals like yourselves and all of us, we must religiously adhere to the COVID-19 prevention measures of wearing the face mask, maintaining good and adequate hand hygiene, maintaining appropriate physical distance of a minimum of three to six feet between individuals when in public spaces and ensuring that the environment where we are gathered for prolong period of times that there is appropriate and recommended ventilation because you and I, we are not sure if and when this new variant will arrive on our shores.”
 
There is currently a temporary suspension of British Airways flights from the UK to St.Kitts-Nevis in light of the new strain from 1st to 16 January.
 
To date the Federation has recorded 33 cases, and to date there are two active cases.