Ministry of Health in Nevis takes steps to prevent COVID-19 infection

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 6, 2020) – The following is a press release from the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration, regarding steps the ministry is taking to prevent COVID-19 infection.

The Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs wishes to assure the Nevisian public that we are taking the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) seriously. While we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Federation, we are taking the necessary steps to increase surveillance at our ports of entry, train and equip our healthcare workers, both at the district and institution level, and educate the general public about  protecting themselves, their families and the wider Nevisian community by preventing infection.

On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the ministry convened its second stakeholders meeting which included representatives from Immigration Department, Customs and Excise Department, Department of Education, Ministry of Tourism, Nevis Tourism Authority, Nevis Disaster Management Department, Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority, Police and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. This multi-stakeholder meeting was aimed at assessing and further strengthening our COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.

Procedures and protocols in place for containment at the border include enhanced surveillance of travellers to the Vance W. Amory International Airport and the Charlestown and Long Point sea ports by Port Health Officers and assigned Port Health Nurses. There is ongoing training of all cadre of staff at our health care institutions about COVID-19, infection prevention and control and case management. Case definitions and clinical guidelines for case management have been made available to doctors and nurses in both the public and the private sectors. Preparedness has also included discussions of case scenarios with appropriate mapping of action plans, identification of isolation areas at Alexandra Hospital, assessing current stock levels and procurement of additional stocks, and the scaling up of COVID-19 public education through use of public service announcements via television and radio, flyers, pamphlets and various social media platforms. We will further engage in educational sessions and discussions with schools, hotels, businesses and other organizations throughout the island.

While we move towards readiness and response, we continue to encourage and emphasize the following:

–    The practice of good hand hygiene through frequent and thorough hand-washing, and

      cough etiquette in order to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory viruses

–     Social distancing by avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory

      infections and remaining at home if you exhibit flu like symptoms

–          Self-reporting, with travelers coming/returning to the Federation being required to self- report if they feel they might have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel ill

–    Calling ahead to your physician or health institution stating your symptoms and any

      travel history to allow for preparation at the office/institution prior to your visit.

COVID-19 requires not only a Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs response but a wider local and regional response to coordinate surveillance, diagnostics, clinical care and treatment, and methods of limiting onward transmission.

More information on this novel virus can be accessed via the Health Promotion Unit’s social media sites, WHO, PAHO, CARPHA and CDC websites. A hotline will be activated if necessary.

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