Address to the Nation by Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis – Friday, July 02, 2021

Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris

My fellow citizens and residents, you are aware that Wednesday, June 30, 2021 was the final day for administering the remaining doses of AstraZeneca vaccines which we obtained from the Government of India and through the COVAX Facility.

We began our vaccination roll out on February 22, 2021.   By the final day we administered a total of 41,850 doses to our citizens and residents in St Kitts and Nevis bringing an end to that first phase of our vaccination rollout.

22,937 adults received at least one dose of the vaccine and 18,913 adults received two doses as is required to complete the regimen.  This means that we have 69.4 percent of our adult population protected with one dose and 57.2 percent having had the required two doses.  This is a remarkable accomplishment.  I am very pleased that we have made these strides in protecting our people from this deadly virus. I want to commend our citizens and residents for answering the call and responding favorably to our appeals to protect themselves, their families, their communities, and their fellow citizens and residents. Thank you for coming forward to be vaccinated.  This is indeed a notable contribution to efforts to preserve the life and health of every citizen and resident in our beloved Federation.  

I thank all of the health care professionals who worked practically around the clock to make this possible.  Equally, I must commend those individuals who went from village to village encouraging persons to get vaccinated at this critical point in the history of our federation.  Several others volunteered to take persons to the vaccination centers and sensitized our citizens and residents throughout communities about the extended opening hours of our health centres to accommodate individuals wishing to be vaccinated.  I commend them all for putting country above self and going beyond the call of duty to keep us safe. 

The science has shown that countries with high vaccination coverage have a decreased risk of viral transmission and are able to move back to a sense of normalcy, putting their people back to work, bringing increased business activity and putting Country on the path to recovery.

While we note with satisfaction the success of the vaccination roll out in the Federation, we cannot become complacent.  We still need to encourage everyone who should be vaccinated to do so.  This will allow us to reach a high threshold of vaccination coverage that will enable us to fully open up our country with minimal risk.

Vaccines Update

We will continue to explore other options to have more vaccines available to our people as we move towards our goal of having at least 70 percent of the population vaccinated.  Given the general global shortage of vaccines, I have been engaged with a number of CARICOM Heads and through bilateral diplomatic arrangements  we have secured an additional 5,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.  These vaccines have an expiration date of August 31, 2021.  

I am happy to report that these additional doses are already in our possession and we will restart our vaccination program on Thursday, July 08, 2021.  

Vaccines are a scarce and precious commodity.  I therefore urge everyone to make use of the opportunity to become vaccinated while supplies last.  This will enable us to achieve in the shortest possible time the stronger and safer future that we deserve.  

In due course I will be communicating to you the changes we will be making to our protocols as we seek to reopen our country safely.  

At the same time, I will inform the nation of the relief measures that my Government will implement to alleviate some of the difficulties being faced by the poor and vulnerable in our society.

Nevis

I turn now to our sister island of Nevis which over the last few weeks has had a special carve out from much of the enhanced restrictions imposed on St Kitts.

To date the community spread we have experienced on St Kitts has not been as severe on our sister island of Nevis. It is for that reason that the restrictive measures taken on St Kitts were not identical to those taken on Nevis. However, Nevis recorded case number 16 on Tuesday June 29th and has yesterday July 01st recorded case number 17 through the contact tracing.  It is known that case number 16 works in an environment with extremely vulnerable persons and the contact tracing by the health authorities on Nevis continues even as I speak. The situation remains very fluid and of considerable concern to health authorities in the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis. 

Given the risks associated with case 16 and the ongoing contact tracing on Nevis which has already led to case 17, I have been in close contact with the Premier of Nevis.  We have agreed that in an effort to save lives and avoid any further escalation of the situation on Nevis, the island of Nevis should as of Saturday, July 03rd at 6:01 pm be under the same regime of restrictions as currently in place on St Kitts. The necessary SR&O will be published to reflect this. For the avoidance of doubt therefore, the island of Nevis as of tomorrow Saturday at 6:01 pm will be under 24 hour lockdown and will have days of limited operations coinciding with the same days on St. Kitts over the duration of the lockdown period. The period of the enhanced restrictions on Nevis will run until 5:00 a.m. on Monday, July 12, 2021, in the first instance.  These restrictions on Nevis will expire at the same time as the restrictions on St Kitts as per SR&O No. 27 of 2021. 

During this period, arrangements will be made to accommodate essential workers, those with medical and other emergencies, those traveling overseas and those students currently undertaking overseas examinations. 

My Government and the Nevis Island Administration will continue to work closely and coordinate efforts to ensure that our Nation remains safe.

Conclusion

I close by reminding all that the pathway to economic recovery including job growth, high incomes, business openings, a flourishing tourism sector, etc depends on a critically high proportion of the population being vaccinated and adhering to the protocols.

I urge all who have not yet done so to do so starting next Thursday.

I must remind us all that we have to adopt to life with COVID-19.   This requires us to protect ourselves and comply fully with the COVID-19 prevention and control protocols.  We should avoid crowds to the extent we can, sanitize regularly and wear masks fully covering our nose and mouth especially when we are outside of our homes.

Every one of us has our health in our hands.  Let us be responsible, the life we save may very well be our own.  Your life is in your hands.  

May God protect us and prosper our Country.  Let us pray earnestly to our God of Grace and Mercy to take us safely through this global pandemic.

Working together we can! 

I thank you.

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