Prime Minister Harris roots for social distancing in fight against COVID-19

The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is among the very few countries in the world that are yet to record a confirmed case of COVID-19. Government is advocating for the social distancing policy to protect citizens and residents, especially the elderly and children, against this global pandemic.

“We all must play a role to protect and prepare our Federation, and one way is through social distancing,” said Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris on Sunday evening, March 22, in a televised address to update the country on the measures the Team Unity Government is taking to protect and prepare citizens and residents for the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19. “These measures are being implemented again based on professional expert advice.”

Dr Harris, who also has lead responsibility for Human Resource Development, Health and HIV/AIDS issues in the CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet, said: “We have for example already discontinued several sporting events like interschool meets.”  

Popular local athletic meets which attract large crowds, the Ram’s Inter Primary School Athletics Competition and the TDC Inter High School Championships in St. Kitts, and the Gulf Insurance Inter-Primary School Championships in Nevis have been postponed.

Effective Sunday March 22, Prime Minister Harris disclosed, the Government has also restricted visitors to the prison to minimise possible infections there, and as a result no visitors are being allowed to Her Majesty’s Prison until further notice. 

For the safety of the senior citizens, Dr Harris advised that government has also restricted visitors to the centres catering to the elderly, for example the Cardin Home, and the Saddlers Government facility in St. Kitts, as well as the Flamboyant Nursing Home and the St. George and St. John Anglican Senior Citizens’ Home in Nevis, and all private facilities for the elderly. 

“Our Ministry of Health has partnered with the private sector entities to provide support to these centres and I am advised that commitments have been made,” said the Honourable Prime Minister.

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to strengthen its borders daily as new information and advice comes forward, said the Prime Minister. Government, he added, has approved the recruitment for additional immigration officers, Customs officers, as the country defends its national health and security interests.

“We are a small open economy reliant on border management both in and out, for our survival including for emergency care of our citizens some of whom may need emergency treatment, food and medicine for which our ports must be able to accept,” said Dr Harris. “As always, our measures will be based on what is right for St. Kitts and Nevis at this time, and in keeping with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines and our National Working Group on COVID-19. There is no one size fits all response.”

Warning against people listening to fake news on the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Harris advised members of the public to question the source and motive of any message if it is not from the Government or the Ministry of Health. He advised that if anyone requires any information, the first point of contact is the Ministry of Health which can be reached on 467-1172 and 467-1108.

To ensure that citizens and residents are provided with timely and accurate information, the government has, through a partnership with Flow, established a hotline 311, which is being built out in advance of any confirmed case of COVID-19 reaching the country’s shores.

“Ensuring the flow of accurate information is crucial during this period,” advised Prime Minister Harris. “This is why my government is leading and is committed to regular engagement with our Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC), Labour Unions, schools, health sector, police, immigration, private sector entities, and the like.”

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