Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, addressing management and staff of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Federation’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws, and the National Disaster Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Abdias Samuel, held a sensitisation session on COVID-19 with management and staff at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis Tuesday in the banking hall at the head office on the corner of Church Street and Central Street in Basseterre.

“We have two special guests here to deal with a very current issue so that at least it could make sense in our inner perspective and also hopefully quell some of the rumour-mongering to the extent there are rumours out there on the coronavirus,” said Development Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lenworth Harris. “I felt it was important that staff get first-hand information and hopefully you can then use this first-hand information to help spread the facts rather than perpetuate the gossip.”

The session, which lasted for over 1 1/2 hours, offered management and staff from the head office and branch office in Nevis the opportunity to pose questions to the two officials on the subject at hand.

In introducing the two presenters, Human Resources Manager, Ms. Danienne Brin said the Development Bank wants to instil a level of preparedness as opposed to panic and fear as it pertains to coronavirus.

“We felt it necessary to bring the representatives from NEMA and Ministry of Health to educate us, give us the facts, and to tell us what the Federation is doing to safeguard the citizens and residents,” said Ms Brin. “They are here to educate us.”

The Chief Medical Officer highlighted the many steps of intervention that have been taken in terms of preparedness and response by the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), pointing out an outbreak is not a matter of if, but when it comes to the shores of the Federation.

“It is important for us as individuals to understand a little bit about this virus because in so doing, you will be empowered to protect yourselves, your families and your organisation,” observed Dr Laws, who had earlier posed to management and staff how an outbreak would impact the bank and its clients, noting that as a result of an outbreak, practices of the bank’s clients would change.

“We are going beyond the call of duty to protect our borders,” she said, adding that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly around the globe, and the risk of the virus for the Federation is high.

Dr. Laws ensured the country’s health system has the capacity to detect, contain and manage the virus. The Ministry of Health, she noted, remains in close communication with its regional and international partners and they continue to monitor the situation and will update the public accordingly.

Mr. Samuel told management and staff that misinformation is the biggest obstacle they have right now, noting NEMA is trying to do its best to reduce hysteria and panic, and observed that was why they came to the Development Bank to give as much information as possible.

“We will be rolling out some community outreach programmes and I am appealing to you to support the groups,” said Mr. Samuel. “We are going to have the Red Cross, NEMA volunteers, community workers and other volunteers in the communities coming to ensure that everybody gets the message.”

“I am asking you now to be ambassadors of Development Bank and carry the message to the communities, identify persons who are vulnerable,” he added.