by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): “I am indeed pleased to see our people back to work again. With our combined efforts, we will continue to rebuild toward the return of our thriving cruise sector,” – Minister of Tourism the Hon Lindsay Grant during a walkthrough at Port Zante (March 10).
Grant conducted the walkthrough on a day when six cruise ships docked in port, and video footage showed hair braiders, a masseuse and monkey handlers receiving patronage from cruise passengers.
The Federation is now out of the fourth wave of transmission after the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus negatively impacted the start of the winter cruise season with cruise lines cancelling calls and being denied entry because of cases being higher than the one percent threshold set by the health officials.
The threshold is now at two percent, meaning ships with COVID-19 cases of less than two percent of the population on the ship will be allowed to dock at our ports.
According to Minister Grant, the previous threshold dissuaded cruise lines from coming to our island because of the restriction.
The fourth wave of Covid-19 transmission has ended locally, and public health measures are being adjusted to fit the decrease in transmission as well as the vaccination rate of the country.
International media reports suggest the same is happening in other countries as well.
The Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne warns countries that it is too soon to lower their guard emphasising when countries relax measures at the wrong moment, transmission spikes dangerously, and more lives are lost during the March 9 COVID-19 press briefing by PAHO.
Today (March 11) marks two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 virus a pandemic, according to the WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus earlier this week.
The Director-General continues to persist in saying that the pandemic is not over.
“It’s encouraging to see that deaths from COVID-19 are now declining globally and in most regions, and it’s pleasing to see some countries being able to relax restrictions without their health systems being overwhelmed. But it’s far too early to declare victory over COVID-19.”
Dr. Tedros reported that many countries still have high hospitalisation rates and low vaccination coverage. As a result, the threat of a new and dangerous variant remains real.
While it is true, according to regional and international health authorities, the pandemic is not over, and the relaxation of restrictions and travel can see renewed spikes, the Federation’s Tourism Minister welcomes the progress in the return of cruise tourism.
“We know that our current cruise season has been tough on our stakeholders due to the pandemic. I am encouraged today with the progress we have made, and it is clear to see we are certainly moving in the right direction,” said Minister Grant.