District Medical Officer, Dr. Bernicia Nisbett, demonstrates how a face mask should be worn.

The Ministry of Health in St. Kitts and Nevis is ready and prepared to fight the coronavirus outbreak, District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr. Bernicia Nisbett said March 26 at a sensitisation session with the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) office and field staff.

“I am here to talk to you about coronavirus, hoping to ease the fear and panic — hoping to give you information so that you can carry it home and hoping that you work together because this is not a government thing,” Dr. Nisbett told the STEP staff at the session held at the main office on Bay Road, Basseterre. “All of us have to come together and work together.”

Dr Nisbett was introduced to the staff by STEP Director Mr. Emile Greene. Arrangements are in place for a similar session to be held shortly for the STEP office and field staff on the island of Nevis.

“This is the opportunity for you to get clarification of anything that you may have, or you may not understand about coronavirus,” said Mr. Greene. “Hopefully, at the end of this presentation you will be better informed how we can take care of ourselves and of each other.”

During the highly interactive sensitisation session, staff were informed as to what the coronavirus is — facts about the virus, its symptoms, mode of transmission, preventative measures being taken, difference between quarantine and isolation, situation update worldwide and also St. Kitts and Nevis, contact tracing, and protocols being used among other topics.

“An additional $16 million-plus have been allocated to the health sector to increase our readiness and preparedness for this virus,” said District Medical Officer Nisbett, who noted that the money will be used to buy equipment needed to help in the fight against the virus. “We are ready and prepared to fight.”

The STEP staff were informed how a mask is used, and that the two sides of the mask — one which is white and the other which is coloured — have different functions. The coloured side is fluid repellent, while the white side is moisture absorbing.

She advised that the coloured side of the masks, which is fluid repellent, should face outward if the individual is sick. That aspect of the mask prevents one from picking up droplets from other people. The inner layer, which is white, is moisture absorbing meaning that if one is coughing all the droplets are soaked inside and they do not go out to anybody.

“The virus is spread by droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing,” observed Dr Nisbett. “So that is why we say if you are using the mask, you use it properly. It does not make sense to put on a mask if you do not put it on properly.”