St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): As the Federation braces for a possible second wave of COVID-19, due to the reopening of borders and the arrival of visitors on American Airlines from Miami on Saturday (November 7), the authorities are offering every assurance that robust protocols are not only in place but are working.
Questions surfaced recently about the effectiveness of quarantine measures and the movement of visitors and the possibility of community spread of the coronavirus in a country that now has a proud record of 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 19 recoveries.
The Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) Mr. Abdias Samuel, in an invited comment on Tuesday (November 10), assured that strict COVID-19 compliance is enforced on arrival, during processing and dispatch to vehicles.
“From that process… Once you go outside of customs, you are greeted by dispatchers. These dispatchers will then write a receipt… COVID-19 certified taxi that can transport these high-risk passengers to their destination, meaning the … place where they will vacation in place… This is very critical for the general public to understand, you can only travel in a COVID-19 certified taxi. These persons would have retrofitted their vehicles; they would have gone through training. They would have had extensive discussions with the Ministry of Tourism and the National COVID-19 taskforce. Now also to compliment that we would have had police patrols, we would also have the compliance team patrolling and stationed at the various hotels to ensure that in strict compliance with the protocol.”
Travelers to Nevis face similar protocols, Mr. Samuel told WINN:
“In the Nevis end the same COVID-19 certified taxis would have taken persons to the Christophe Harbour area and also some persons were taken to the reggae beach pier. At these [piers] we would have had environmental health officers and we also had compliance teams who were dressed in blue shirts with the name compliance at the back and also they would have had the national security logo on the left side of the polo shirt … There was also communication with Nevis. So on Nevis by the Oualie pier… by The Four Seasons pier we would have had individuals there as well who will be monitoring the process of receiving such high-risk individuals, the processing them from the pier via the same COVID-19 Certified … ground transportation to the place of abode.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws also reminded our listeners of the extensive work done in preparation for the re-opening of the country’s borders with hotels and service providers.
“Each update COVID-19 certified hotels had to assure us that if they were going to host any locals on property, they had to show us how they’re going to separate, how there will be separation of locals from high risk tourists and this separation is done either in time and space. And so the hotels or the properties have been monitored continuously and if there is any breach in these protocols, persons will be held accountable. And so I want to tell you that this system is working because there’s one such individual who would have breached the protocol and that individual is now in quarantine as a result of that breach, and so I want to… assure the public that there is continuous monitoring of the systems that we have in place because ultimately the goal is to protect our people from this virus and protect the inbound passengers and guests on these properties…”
Dr. Laws offered details about the mobile app that is mandatory for travelers to the Federation.
“The mobile application has multiple functions and one, yes [there are] geo-fencing capabilities whereby the tourists would have uploaded same. Their hotel or accommodations would be where they would be vacationing in place, and so if they were to say, go out of that … parameter, there will be an indication … on the monitor, and so the team monitoring the data… coming in will know “Hey, there is an issue. Do I call security or first do I call the guest to find out what’s happening and then call security” ’cause there may be a breach in terms of their adhering to their terms of vacationing in place. And then there is there clinical management features whereby the app will be utilized within the first 14 days of stay on island and so the guest is expected to upload their data. Are you experienced in any COVID-like symptoms? What your temperature each day, and so if there are any red flag signs again … those who are monitoring the data will alert Health to check in on an individual who may have indicated that there are COVID-like symptoms… You know if they are exhibiting or experienced in any COVID-like symptoms and so it serves a dual purpose, that is the mobile application.”
As is the practice, both officials encouraged citizens, residents and visitors to adhere to COVID-19 protocols for the safety of all.
“And yes, I [want to] say that each and every one of us who are in the Federation, we all have a responsibility as individuals, and collectively in terms of making sure that there isn’t transmission of the virus locally and so that is by wearing a face mask, so if perchance the viruses out there, you can protect yourself by doing your part. And what’s your part? Wearing the face mask, making sure you practice hand hygiene, walk around with your hand sanitizer and make sure your hands are clean and out of your face, nose, and most. Make sure you maintain that distance, physical distance between yourself and others, at least six feet … and then in terms of social distancing, avoiding crowds and so… each one of us… have that responsibility in terms of ensuring we are not participating or helping to spread the virus,”
Mr. Samuel: “Thank you for the opportunity to be able to engage your radio station as a critical partner as always, and the general public, your listeners. It’s very important for us to ensure that the general public remains informed and also keep a level of calmness in the general public. So I am appealing to persons, individuals, and institutions to share responsible information, verify information before we disseminate it, and let us avoid is misinformation, so …that we don’t create panic.”
You too can report apparent COVID-19 breaches by calling the police at 911, the COVID-19 hotline 311, or by contacting someone in authority.