By Kevon Browne
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): After we have boasted 19 confirmed cases and 19 recoveries, for the five weeks that it lasted, on Saturday, November 21, the Federation’s 20th confirmed case was announced at a special NEOC COVID-19 press briefing.
An additional two imported cases were announced on Tuesday, November 24 bringing the total to 22 confirmed cases in less than 72 hours.
Thankfully, we have 19 recoveries and three active cases from those 22 confirmed cases. No deaths, no serious hospitalization recorded so far, according to health officials.
For the past eight months, for the most part, apart from economic strain, St. Kitts-Nevis has not been the victim of the true onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic with its borders closed.
The rest of CARICOM, and countries all over the world, are seeing spikes in coronavirus, which suggests the same could happen here now that international travel has resumed. Numbers could rise before the anticipated access to a vaccine; so, how ready are we for more cases of the coronavirus in the Federation?
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws and Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson answered questions about the country’s preparedness at Tuesday’s briefing of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
How many beds do we have?
Dr. Wilkinson: “… so right now we have the private ward that is identified with about 15 beds, each having a ventilator-associated with the bed. And so the capacity on the private Ward is 15 beds.”
How many Hazmat suits are available?
Dr. Laws: “I just want to assure the general public that we have an inventory, a team monitoring our inventory at our central medical stores in terms of ensuring that we have adequate supplies of everything that we need in terms of all the pieces of Personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate medication, etc.”
After improving the image of quarantine facilities by turning them into ‘a vacation in place at our hotels’ concept (at your expense of course) what is the status of the isolation facility at the hospitals in case of patients with complications as it relates to COVID-19?
Dr. Wilkinson: “One of the things we said early as we prepared for this pandemic was that we identified a site at the Joseph N France Hospital, where we would house persons initially with COVID-19 virus disease, and if the cases became overwhelming we would command more and more of the institution … And so the capacity on the private Ward is 15 beds. But there is a plan in place to gradually command more and more of the institution … We have three health institutions and so our capacity can expand if we have an increase in [the] number of cases.”
Have the emergency response teams conducted drills to test the efficiency of the protocols in place?
Dr. Laws: “… between January to present, the medical team has been exposed to continuous training and capacity building … facilitated by consultants and focal points in [the] country and we are ably assisted by the Pan American Health Organization. I want to assure the public that even before we opened our borders our internal medicine specialist team … developed … the Clinical management of moderate to severe COVID-19 so that’s our national protocols for the management of persons who would become moderate to severely ill when impacted by this virus, and this document was, you know, was made available to all health professionals in the Federation and all health professionals were sensitized to the latest information regarding the clinical management of COVID-19 and so this took place even before we reopened our borders and continuous training in terms of infection prevention control and the donning and doffing of PPE etc happens on an ongoing basis.”