GOVERNMENT PREPARED TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS WITH OMICRON VARIANT; PORT ZANTE BUBBLE REMAINS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – PRIME MINISTER HARRIS
Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 3, 2021 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has adopted a ‘Life First Strategy’ in relation to the management of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to protect citizens and residents of the Federation.
During the December 1, 2021, sitting of the National Assembly of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris outlined measures that the Government would be taking in an effort to protect the population from the newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant.
“On Sunday the 28th of November, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new variant called the Omicron. This variant has caused many countries to review their policies regarding the management of COVID-19, some like the U.S.A, and some states in the European Union (EU) have imposed travel bans and reimposed other restrictions in an attempt to contain the spread. The experts have said that there is still a lot we need to learn about this variant regarding its transmissibility, severity and of course the efficacy of the current vaccines and treatment against this new variant. Our health experts advised the Cabinet yesterday that we should put a pause on some of the proposed measures which had been noted on the most recent edition of ‘Leadership Matters’, specifically some of the measures we had proposed then; in light of the situation with the Omicron variant we are asked to put those on a temporary pause,” said Prime Minister Harris.
According to the WHO, the number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.
Across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis over eighty (80) percent of the target population have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Prime Minister Harris reiterated that the ongoing COVID-19 virus is deadly and will continue to have an impact on the lives and livelihoods of individuals.
“We were reminded that we are still dealing with a deadly virus and it keeps mutating and we listen to the news and we hear that there are over thirty (30) mutations of the Coronavirus and we, therefore, must continue to adjust our strategy and to be nimble with it. In other words, nothing will be cast in stone because we are learning as we go along with the respect to COVID-19. We will therefore like the rest of the world opt to obtain more information on the Omicron variant over the next seven (7) to fourteen (14) days to further guide our decision-making process,” said Prime Minister Harris.
Of the five (5) measures that were proposed to be relaxed following consultation with the health experts, two of them were advised to be placed on pause. The removal of the barriers at Port Zante will be postponed until further data are available about the Omicron variant and a negative PCR-Test will remain the standard for persons entering the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, while a 24-hour quarantine period remains for all inbound travellers who must be tested within that time frame and receive a negative PCR test result before their release.