by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Federation has recorded the highest daily case count seen here since the start of the pandemic, 81 cases in 24 hours, according to the latest COVID-19 situation report published on Thursday evening (December 30).
Health officials are now monitoring 183 active cases.
The report came after the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws announced the start of the fourth wave of transmission of the COVID-19 virus and two confirmed cases of Omicron in St. Kitts and Nevis.
After the announcements, the questions on people’s minds were:
Would the State of Emergency be extended? Would any restrictions come back into effect?
St Kitts and Nevis has been under a State of Emergency for the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Emergency would end at 11:59 p.m. today (December 31).
The Attorney General and Minister responsible for Justice and Legal Affairs, the Hon Vincent Byron Jr., reminded us of the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill 2020 was passed successfully in Parliament on November 17, 2020, which replaces the need for a State of Emergency related to COVID-19.
“When the State of Emergency ends tomorrow, it would not be the end of the restrictions because we would then be covered by an act of Parliament, the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Act No. 16 of 2020.”
Under the State of Emergency, the Federation saw multiple lockdowns and periods of curfew to restrict movement and the spread of the virus.
“We have not had a lockdown for some time, and we hope and pray to God that we don’t have to return to that,” said Minister Byron.
The last lockdown ended in July of this year and the curfews ended in November.
The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs said that come January 1, 2022, the regulations to come into effect would be from the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill and would be no different than the current rules and regulations St. Kitts, and Nevis are currently observing; non-pharmaceutical measures, events with more than 25 people needing permission from the Police, Ministry of Health and Fire and Rescue, etc.
However, depending on the situation, the State of Emergency could return.
“When we needed to have a lockdown, we needed to have the State of Emergency, and that was effective. When we had that third wave, I think it would have been after May 19; we went to a lockdown. That went a long way to break the cycle. Curfews also helped us to keep us separated, and we needed the State of Emergency to have a curfew. If we have to have a widespread outbreak, we will have to consider whether we go and use this tool again, but for now, we believe as we open up, as we manage, that it is not necessary at this time for us to extend the State of Emergency,” said the Attorney General during a special broadcast by the National Emergency Operations Center on December 30.