BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 27th March 2020) – Via import of the illness, the Federation has recorded its first two cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) hours before the borders of St.Kitts and Nevis were scheduled to close.
At the Prime Minister’s monthly press conference held on Tuesday 24th March 2020 at the Ocean Terrace Inn, while touching the on the topic of ‘Locking Down Our Borders’, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, who is the Minister of National Security told: “Our early action in keeping the virus at bay has provided opportunities for us to be better prepared when the pandemic eventually arrives here. Today, I am announcing new measures which would lock down our borders and protect our people.
He continued: “Effective tomorrow night, March 25th, at 11:59 pm, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis will be closing its borders to all commercial airline flights until April 7th, 2020.”
Hours after the prime minister’s remarks, the Federation learnt on Wednesday afternoon sometime before the 3:00PM hour that St.Kitts-Nevis has imported two cases with the return of two Kittitians; a 57-year-old female and a 21-year old male with recent travel history to New York.
In the announcement delivered by Senator of State with the responsibility of Health Wendy Phipps, it was publicised that as of 11:03 PM on Tuesday 24th March the cases were recorded. Reportedly, the two individuals returned home on the 18th of March.
Dr. Harris, in his presentation, had disclosed that flights for medical emergencies will be exempted and international air cargo and cargo by seafaring vessels will be allowed to maintain connectivity and enable the Federation to import much needed commodities such as food, fuel, medical supplies and equipment.
“We are a small open economy and we rely on international trade systems for most of our needs,” he remarked.
He went on to say that Immigration, Customs, Coast Guard and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force will be enforcing all border controls whilst adding “In this regard, we are in the process of new recruitment in these frontline security areas. The move to close our borders as a precautionary measure means that nationals and residents overseas who cannot return by the deadline, will need to remain in place until our border is reopened.”
“I know this has been a very traumatic experience for our citizens due to the uncertainty and anxiety generated by this virus but we must do all we can to protect ourselves against COVID-19 entering our shores,” the National Security Minister added.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO), speaking at the press conference during the question and answer segment, gave some information on test results being waited on.
At present, we have a total of 292 in quarantine; four are located at a government-designated facility and we have 288 under self-quarantine in their home facility- 207 in St. Kitts and 81 in Nevis. These individuals are monitored on a daily basis. They can be visited, or they utilize the telephone in terms of monitoring them. At present, a total of 39 persons have had samples sent off for testing – 29 from St. Kitts and ten (10) from Nevis. We have received 19 results so far, all negative and results for 20 individuals pending. Results came from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and the Next Generation Laboratory in St. Kitts,” she said then.