BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Thursday 10th June 2021)-Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws has listed two areas linked to the current virus outbreak in St.Kitts-Nevis, namely the vaccination rate as well as workplaces and individuals not following the COVID-19 prevention  and control measures.

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

She provided such details on Tuesday 8th June 2021 while appearing on ‘Leadership Matters’ aired on ZIZ having given an update from the Ministry of Health that a total of twenty-five (25) additional cases were recorded within the past 24 hours resulting in 66 active cases.

In addressing factors driving the outbreak, Dr. Laws, who is a member of the National COVID-19 Task Force, stated: “Based on the information gleaned through contact tracing, we realize that the private and public entities  and individuals,  they are not adhering to the COVID-19 prevention  and control measures for example the wearing of the facemask, hand sanitisation and evaluating employees upon arrival at work at the beginning of the workday. What we found is that a number of employees are showing up and are coming to work while experiencing flu-like and COVID like symptoms.”
“Another factor is that the vaccination rate still remains below the herd community threshold,” she added.
As part of the ministry’s way forward, she pointed out: “We need to engage the key stakeholders to help public and private entities improve and adhere to the COVID-19 prevention and control measures. We must press on with our national COVID-19 vaccination programme.”  
 In relation to the report on cases, she said: “Last evening, we recorded 19 additional cases of COVID-19 and today, received positive results for an additional six cases. These 25 cases bring the total of COVID-19 confirmed cases 119 with 105 cases for St.Kitts and 14 cases for Nevis. We have registered 53 recoveries so far  and four hospitalisations.”
Dr. Laws said all four patients are stable and that there are no COVID-19 related deaths.
The CMO disclosed: “The most recent cases include one imported case from the Dominican Republic and one case from the Tyrell Williams Primary School which is now cleared from an outbreak at this time. One case in particular is also responsible for transmitting the virus to nine contacts. Such a case is referred to as a super spreader. A significant number of the recent cases are involved in the gaming sector. Approximately, seven entities have been impacted through the contact tracing process. Approximately, 1460 individuals have been engaged by the Ministry of Health through the contact tracing process.”
According to her, 870 of these individuals have been received from self-quarantine and a remaining 590 are to be tested and discharged.
In highlighting five areas of successes and positives, she addressed prevention of the virus spreading in schools, contact tracing, low positivity rate, no COVID-19 related deaths so far and the national vaccination programme.
“So far we have prevented the spread of the virus in our schools. So six schools have been impacted so far and they have all been cleared from an outbreak.  Secondly, the contact tracing process is working. We have identified cases. We’ve reached a number of contacts and prevented a significant number of cases already. Our robust contact tracing process is preventing an expansion of this problem.”
Dr. Laws added: “At present, the positivity rate is still acceptable low.  It stands at 1.6 % approximately. There are no COVID-19 related deaths so far. This reflects the state of readiness of our health system. The Ministry of Health has updated its clinical guidelines that provides the roadmap for care delivery of the persons impacted by COVID-19. Our national vaccination programme is successful with 63.4% of the target population covered by the first dose and 27.1 % of the target population fully vaccinated.”
Speaking to the way forward, the CMO outlined that the Ministry of Health is strengthening the contact tracing process by increasing the cadre of staff or personnel who will be engaging the contacts of the cases. 
Additionally, she talked about increasing testing capacity, noting that a mobile unit will be added to the fleet and also increasing the number of case managers who will be supported by the A&E [Accident and Emergency] physicians. 
An isolation site and mobile app were also mentioned.
“We are establishing a COVID-19 isolation site and we hope to launch the SKN mobile app that’s going to help us monitor cases and contacts.”