Closure of classes key to curbing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools; significant number of tests being done daily – CMO Dr. Hazel Laws

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 24, 2021 (SKNIS): As schools across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis resume face-to-face interactions with students, a number of new cases of COVID-19 have led to some schools closing classes as students are isolated and contact tracing is ongoing. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws indicated that a significant number of samples are being tested daily in an effort to identify, isolate and provide treatment for persons who may test positive for COVID-19.

“If you have a class and there is one student identified as positive for COVID-19, do you close the class or put everybody in quarantine? If you have a class with 25 students, and one of the 25 students is identified as a case, that student would have interacted with his/her classmates. So, if you merely isolate the case which is the student who is impacted and do not do anything with the rest of the class, you can end up with an outbreak within that class. In terms of public health practice, you have to place the class in quarantine, you have to do contact tracing in terms of finding out the students with whom that student interacted and those individuals must be tested. That is our practice, and so far, we have identified a number of cases in classes where you would have had an initial case, so it is important to do so,” said CMO Dr. Laws.

The disruption in classroom learning will ensure that both teachers and students alike are protected from the effects of the deadly COVID-19 virus, and assist with the return of some variation of normal face-to-face learning. The CMO also indicated that a large quantity of samples is being tested for COVID-19 daily by several labs across the Federation, and that may be a reason for the delay in returning results to persons.

“At present, the Next Generation Lab, Avalon Lab and QDL Labs are providing laboratory capacity and they are processing samples. The Joseph N. France General Lab we hope will be back on stream shortly. The time lag between testing and results has lengthened due to the surge in the number of cases and the involvement of our schools. So, within the last week hundreds upon hundreds of samples were taken and are being processed and that explains the time lag between the conducting of sample taking and the end result of determining a person’s status,” said Dr. Laws.

Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France General Hospital Dr. Cameron Wilkinson also indicated that the best tool in the fight against COVID-19 is vaccination. Dr. Wilkinson urged persons to get their young children 12 to 17 years old vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine which is currently being administered across the Federation.

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