NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 13, 2020) — The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) on March 13, 2020, regarding preparations put in place for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat.
Residents of Nevis,
The world is facing a dynamic global event of epic proportion. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has now spread to more than 114 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom with confirmed cases as close by as St. Barths, Antigua, Trinidad, Guyana, St. Vincent and Jamaica. On Wednesday, March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
For us in St. Kitts and Nevis, we must brace ourselves for this eventuality as a matter of urgency. The Federal government has activated the National Disaster Mitigation Council of which two officers from Nevis are members. Concurrent to that, the Nevis Island Administration, through the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, has activated its COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. The ministry has adopted and initiated a series of actions to reduce the risk of entry of the disease and its containment.
– Travel advisories issued for China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore and as the situation evolves these advisories will be revised. Persons are asked to refrain from traveling to and from these countries and other COVID-19 affected areas;
– Heightened Port Health surveillance and border control;
– Inter-agency collaboration from Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority (NASPA), Customs and Immigration;
– Screening of all incoming passengers at the Vance W. Amory International Airport by a port-assigned nurse;
– Increased risk awareness via radio, print, TV and social media platforms. A symposium on COVID-19 was conducted Wednesday, March 11 to sensitise the general public
– Continuous sensitisation and training of health workers in infection prevention and control and management of patients;
– We have invested in the procurement of essential medical supplies and equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment
– Our health facilities are making the necessary preparations to quarantine, isolate, treat and manage cases;
– We are in contact with our international partners such as CARPHA and PAHO who have provided training and will conduct assessment of our facilities shortly.
The Nevis Island Administration has placed this impending threat on the forefront of its agenda. As Minister of Health, I appeal to the general public not to panic but to be informed. Arm yourself with the information and adhere to the precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health.
We continue to stress the importance of washing hands properly and often; covering your cough; practising social distancing, staying away from person with visible respiratory symptoms. Clean surfaces and objects such as door knobs and phones, frequently. We also advise persons to stay at home if they feel unwell, and call ahead before visiting health facilities.
We encourage businesses and organizations to install alcohol-based hand sanitizing stations at the entrance or exit for their customers and patrons. The ever-increasing magnitude of this global outbreak calls for a concerted effort by not only Health but all sectors of government and the private sector. The ministry will endeavor to keep the public informed.
There is much misinformation, so I encourage you to take information only from trusted sources such as the Ministry of Health, CDC, WHO/PAHO and CARPHA.
Information is power and with information we can minimize the risk and prevent the spread of this disease.