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Health concerns continue to be politicised ahead of August 5 General Elections in SKN

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Ministry of Health on Sunday (July 17) addressed the spread of misinformation on July 17 concerning the alleged spread of monkeypox in the Federation.

According to a circulating image on social media, an alleged internal memo from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) stated that the Prime Minister was made aware by the Chief Medical Officer that there were currently seven suspected cases of monkeypox in St. Kitts and Nevis with a further recommendation to close the borders to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health, in a statement on the matter, made it clear that there were no cases of monkeypox, saying, “As of Sunday, July 17, 2022, there are no reported, suspected, probable, or confirmed cases of monkeypox in the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis. Four (4) other CARICOM member states have been affected by the travel of infected individuals and close contacts so far. However, the monkeypox outbreak has not affected St. Kitts and Nevis yet, and there are no plans for border closure.”

The closure of borders has been a topic of concern for the onlookers of the upcoming August 5 elections as a way to cull the number of overseas voters coming into the Federation.

Many have said that a spike in COVID-19 would cause the closure of the borders because of the elections, even after health officials have stated repeatedly that the borders will not be closed because of COVID-19 and citizens and residents would have to practice social responsibility as it relates to the virus.

Recently the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party publicly requested the removal of the current travel restrictions still in place in the Federation, but the CMO countered, saying that our entry protocols, guided by data and the latest information, show that it is not wise to make a change to the travel protocols at this time.

On July 13, another image on a known political commentator’s Facebook page, Larry Vaughn, suggested that Election was added as an option under the heading “Purpose of travel” into the Federation on the official travel entry form.

That same day WINN checked the form after the post was circulated and found that the “Election” option was not there.

Health concerns and travel restrictions have been an ongoing dialogue since the fallout of Team Unity, and to some others even before then, when during the 2020 General Elections in June, borders were closed to curb the spread of the virus at that time.

While health concerns are being politicised locally, and regionally, health bodies PAHO and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are monitoring the spread of the monkeypox virus.

CARPHA has indicated that it has also commenced testing for the monkeypox virus and, at this time, does not recommend restrictions on the entry of persons from any country.

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