(CMR) St Kitts and Nevis is now under partial lockdown as the country tries to bring an outbreak of COVID-19 cases under control.
Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said the decision to implement several measures, including a limited curfew and regulations governing public transportation, was made based on the rapid increase in cases.
There were eleven positive cases on Wednesday and 25 on Thursday bringing the total number of cases to 155, an increase of 111 cases in a few short weeks. This increase comes after the country announced that it would only welcome vaccinated visitors.
Dr. Harris said, “This is of deep concern to me and my Government. Our number one priority in this fight against COVID-19 is and has always been to keep our people safe, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our people. Thankfully, 61 of these cases are fully recovered while 94 remain active, with 4 hospitalized, one being very ill. We have listened carefully to the Health professionals and have been guided by science. That is precisely why we took tough measures early to contain the virus.”
“Our Health Professionals have worked around the clock to combat this outbreak and had taken aggressive action to identify through contact tracing, robust testing and diagnosis, quarantine and isolation procedures, those who would have come into contact with, or who had actually been infected with, the disease. But the virus continues to spread in our communities for the numbers of new cases have not peaked and they continue to persist,” Harris said.
The Country has been placed under lockdown from Saturday, June 12, for fourteen (14) days until Saturday, June 26 in the first instance.
Under this lockdown, people should stay at home over the next two weeks. There is a curfew daily from 6 pm to 5 am.
Harris explained, “It is anticipated that this will break the virus transmission cycle and cause the cases to fall. It should also give our health care workers and contact tracers time to get ahead of the virus and control its spread.”
As of June 9, 65 percent of the target population have received their first shot, and 29 percent of the target population fully vaccinated.
Harris said while the new measure will affect the livelihood of many, “the alternative to not tightening up, not restricting movement, would result in more infections, more stress on our health system, our people, our overall economy, and the greater likelihood of deaths.”
All essential businesses and offices may continue their business operations by allowing their employees to work remotely from home utilizing virtual means, unless those employees are permitted to work under special exemption or are designated as being essential workers, the prime minister said.
Harris said where a business is unable to continue with employees working remotely, the business shall cease its operations for the next two weeks in the first instance. All persons employed within the Public Service, a Statutory Body, a State-owned Enterprise, or the Courts are also to work remotely from home, except as may otherwise be directed by the Secretary to the Cabinet.
All gaming establishments will be closed, and no mass events are allowed. Beaches are to be used for the purpose of exercise only during this period.
No street vending will be allowed for the next 14 days. Vending will only be allowed at the public market with controlled spaces where strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols must be observed.
There will be no in-person dining at Restaurants and Bars. However, take-out and delivery will be permitted.
Security officers will be enforcing protocols with respect to social distancing and mask-wearing. Persons not in compliance will be penalized.