Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, guided the Bill through the various stages of the parliament yesterday.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — As cases of the novel coronavirus continue to surge in islands around St. Kitts and Nevis, the Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, has thrown her full support behind the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2020, that had its second reading in the National Assembly on November 17.

The Bill was introduced in parliament on October 15, and was moved for its second reading by the Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., in his capacity as Chair of the Disaster Mitigation Council. It seeks to provide for public health and other interventions to prevent, control, and suppress the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and for related matters.

“We recently reopened our borders to accept returning nationals, tourists, [and] international travellers, said Hon. Byron-Nisbett. Consequently, Mr. Speaker, the risks of reimportation of the virus is currently extremely high. In that regard, the COVID-19 Bill would provide the legal framework to support the interventions proven to contain this contagious disease.”

Experts around the world and local health professionals tout the non-pharmaceutical measures of wearing facemasks, sanitizing hands, social and physical distancing, and avoiding large crowds as the best way to curb the spread of the virus.

Mrs. Byron-Nisbett endorsed these measures and said that “legislative and regulatory measures must be put in place” to continue to safeguard the population.

The non-pharmaceutical measures and other safety protocols are included in the various iterations of emergency powers regulations that were issued periodically since the end of March 2020. When the Bill is passed and gazetted, it removes the need for temporary emergency regulations and, establishes a more permanent solution until the COVID-19 threat is eliminated.

Mrs. Byron-Nisbett commended front line workers, officials on the National COVID-19 Task Force and other public and private sector officials who answered the call for an “all of society approach” in the fight against COVID-19.