Chief Medical Officer says reopening borders requires two phases

Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer, says there has been no evidence of any local person contracting the disease after interacting with the passengers.
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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — To continue protecting citizens and residents, as well as visitors from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will reopen the borders in a phased approach.

“We are taking a phased approach and we must get this right,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws. “The aim is to reopen safely with minimum risk of reintroduction of the virus to the Federation.

“Appropriate protocols are being developed and confirmed to ensure the safety of our people and safety of the inbound traveller or tourists,” she said on the October 6 edition of ‘Leadership Matters.’ “The aim is to avoid a second lockdown which is usually longer than the first.”

Dr. Laws provided an overview of the protocols for the reopening of the Federation’s borders.

“In Phase One, all inbound travellers to the Federation will have to log into the national website prior to travelling to complete and submit the entry form,” she said. “It requires details, including evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test done within three days of travel. This test must be done at an accredited laboratory.

“Phase Two will involve an expanded list of hotels certified to accept inbound travellers or tourists with significant risks from hot spots. Such hotels must submit the appropriate protocols to ensure safe operations and minimal risk of COVID-19 outbreak on the property.

“The second phase will also involve an expanded list of excursions and local tourist destination sites that are COVID-19 certified with the relevant protocols. The second phase, will more than likely involve other changes in the existing protocols based on surveillance data we collect and the outcomes observed in the first phase.”

Dr. Laws indicated that reopening the borders in phases is important and will aid in assisting St. Kitts and Nevis to prevent a second wave of infections. She noted that this can only happen if citizens and residents adhere to several health and safety measures.

“All stakeholders should adhere to infection, prevention and control measures to ensure the safety of our frontline workers, the safety of our people and the safety of all inbound travellers and tourists,” explained Dr. Laws. “We must always maintain good hand hygiene – we need to wash our hands regularly and we need to use appropriate hand sanitizers. We need to get back to this practice. We need to maintain adequate sanitation in school and workplace settings, in business places and, particularly, in the high-risk settings like in prisons and nursing homes for older adults.”

Additionally, maintaining physical distancing of more than one meter or 3.3 feet when out in public spaces was also emphasized by Dr. Laws. She encouraged citizens and residents to avoid crowds and events with a significant number of persons gathered together. She said these practices, should now become second nature.

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