BASSETERRE, St. Kitts-Nevis, April 24, 2020 (CMC) – Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, announced, today, new regulations under the Emergency Powers Act that will allow businesses to operate for four days, as he reported that the twin-island federation was flattening the curve in its fight against the deadly COVID-19.
The current regulations remain in effect until Saturday at 6 a.m. After that, new regulations will be in place until Saturday, May 9, beginning with a total lockdown, starting this weekend and ending on Monday, April 27 at 6 a.m.
The relaxation of restrictions to allow businesses to operate will kick in at that time.
“On Monday and Tuesday, there will be limited operations, while on Wednesday, there will be a 24-hour curfew, a total lockdown. On Thursday and Friday, businesses will again have limited operations, before there is a 24-hour curfew…for the holiday weekend from Saturday, 2nd May to Tuesday morning, 5th May,” Prime Minister Harris said, in an address to the nation, this afternoon.
“From Tuesday 5th May to Friday 8th May, businesses will have four consecutive days of limited operations, while there will be the nightly curfew, before we enter the weekend of curfew,” he related.
He explained that as the government continues restrictions to maintain social distancing protocols, to slow down the transmission of COVID-19 and help the country to cope with this pandemic, decisions pertaining to the relaxation of the restrictions were guided by the advice offered by medical experts.
“We, in the Cabinet, will continue to monitor the work of the health team — headed by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, and the Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson — and the National COVID Task Force. We will continue to invite and review their advice, which has been reliable and put us in a good place,” Harris noted.
Prime Minister Harris said that, based on the six criteria the World Health Organization (WHO) had established for countries to use, before lifting or relaxing restrictions, St. Kitts and Nevis was “flattening the curve”.
Those criteria are: controlling the transmission of the virus; ensuring that the local health systems are able to detect, test, isolate and treat every COVID-19 case and to trace every contact; ensuring that outbreak risks are minimized in special care settings, such as healthcare facilities and nursing homes; instituting preventative measures in workplaces, schools and other places, where essential services are offered; managing the risk of importing the virus from other countries/territories; and fully educating, engaging and empowering communities, to live under what has been described as the new normal.
“Dr. Laws and Dr. Wilkinson tell us that we can tick off each of those six items; that so far, we have been successful in our efforts,” the Prime Minister said.
St. Kitts and Nevis has reported 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, from 260 tests carried out. Two people have so far recovered.
“There has been a slow increase in confirmed cases. We have been assured that we have an aggressive contact-tracing system in place, and that we, here in St. Kitts and Nevis, have tested all who needed to be tested at this time,” Dr. Harris said.
“They have reported that the latest batch of tests, done this week, have all been returned negative – all 17 of them. This of course is very good news. It means that we are flattening the curve.”
The Prime Minister said that his government was cautiously optimistic and would begin to gradually get the country back to “a sense of near normalcy, while ensuring that, at all costs, we do not endanger anyone’s health”.
“We have restricted visitations to institutions, we have kept our schools closed and introduced preventative measures in workplaces. Our borders remain closed, and we have mitigated the risk of importing the virus from other countries,” he noted.
“Let me urge all our people to continue to do what is necessary to keep you and your family and your community safe. We must follow the health guidelines that all of us have been told to follow, over and over again…. Remember, this pandemic is a serious threat to our way of life. We must take all necessary precautions to reduce the risk to ourselves, our family, community and indeed our beloved country. We are in this fight together. And together in unity we shall triumph,” he concluded.