Address (No. 6) to the Nation
Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris
on the State of Emergency
Friday, 24th April 2020
My Fellow Citizens and Residents:
Last Friday, the 17th of April, after a long debate in the National Assembly, a Resolution was passed by a two-thirds majority as required by the Constitution, to extend for six (6) months the State of Emergency, which began on the 28th of March 2020. This was necessary for St. Kitts and Nevis to continue our fight against the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This worldwide pandemic threatens the world, and St. Kitts and Nevis is no exception. His Excellency the Governor General had signed into law further Regulations under the Emergency Powers Act, which were gazetted as SR&O No. 14 of 2020 and which are in force until 6:00am, tomorrow, Saturday, the 25th of April. We continue to urge all our citizens and residents to take every precaution. Danger still lurks. The virus continues to kill persons everyday. As at yesterday, the worldwide statistics revealed that 2,549,632 persons were confirmed with COVID-19 and 175,825 persons had died. The situation of course changes from day to day. We still have to be cautious even as we relax gradually some of the strict guidelines of the last few weeks.
Tomorrow, Saturday, the 25th of April, another SR&O, No. 15 of 2020, will introduce another round of Regulations under the Emergency Powers Act to fight COVID-19. These Regulations will be similar to what we have been experiencing this week, and will be in force for the next two weeks this time until Saturday, the 9th of May. They will begin this weekend with a 24-hour curfew – a total lockdown – on Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th until Monday the 27th of April at 6:00am.
Next week, we will follow the same pattern as we did this week. On Monday and Tuesday, there will be limited operations, while on Wednesday there will be a 24-hour curfew, a total lockdown. On Thursday and Friday, businesses will again have limited operations before there is a 24-hour curfew, a total lockdown, for the long holiday weekend from Saturday, the 2nd of May to Tuesday morning, the 5th of May. From Tuesday 5th May to Friday 8th May, businesses will have 4 consecutive days of limited operations while there will be the nightly curfew before we enter the weekend of curfew.
As we continue restrictions to maintain social distancing protocols to slow down the transmission of COVID-19 and help our country to cope with this pandemic, we are very mindful that as a people, we have a deep sense of pride, that all of us want to work, that we have to provide for ourselves and our families and to be thoughtful about how we go about easing restrictions.
Whatever we do as a Government, I assure you we seek the advice of our medical experts headed by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws and the Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson.
The Medical Professionals leading the fight against COVID-19 here in St. Kitts and Nevis have informed us that the World Health Organization, the WHO, has established six (6) criteria that countries should use before lifting or relaxing the restrictions. These are:
- Controlling the transmission of the virus;
- Ensuring that the local health systems are able to detect, test, isolate and treat every COVID-19 case and to trace every contact;
- Ensuring that outbreak risks are minimized in special care settings such as healthcare facilities and nursing homes;
- Instituting preventative measures in workplaces, schools and other places where essential services are offered;
- Managing the risk of importing the virus from other countries/territories; and
- Fully educating, engaging and empowering communities to live under what has been described as the new normal.
Dr. Laws and Dr. Wilkinson tell us that we can tick off each of those six items, that so far, we have been successful in our efforts. There has been a slow increase in confirmed cases. We have been assured that we have an aggressive contact tracing system in place and that we here in St. Kitts and Nevis have tested all who needed to be tested at this time. They have reported that the latest batch of tests done this week have all been returned negative, all seventeen (17) of them. This of course is very good news. It means that we are flattening the curve.
We have restricted visitations to institutions, we have kept our schools closed and introduced preventative measures in workplaces. Our borders remain closed and we have mitigated the risk of importing the virus from other countries, while we continue to provide daily briefings to keep our citizens and residents abreast of everything COVID-19. This is why we are cautiously optimistic and why we have begun to gradually get back to a sense of near normalcy, while ensuring that at all costs we do not endanger anyone’s health.
We in the Cabinet will continue to monitor the work of the Health Team and the National COVID-19 Task Force. We will continue to invite and review their advice, which has been reliable and put us in a very good place at this time.
I want to thank all those who have worked so diligently over the past few weeks to protect us, our communities and indeed our Country. Many of our citizens and residents have shown a sense of selflessness and a commitment to duty and a belief in Country that should make us all proud. I must single out our Medical and Health professionals, the doctors, the nurses, the EMTs and all other support staff, our security personnel and numerous teams at the NEOC in St. Kitts headed by Mr. Abdias Samuel and of course the EOC in Nevis who have all worked tirelessly to help keep us at home and adhere to the social distancing protocols at business establishments.
Let me urge all our people to continue to do what is necessary to keep you and your family and your community safe. We must follow the health guidelines that all of us have been told to follow, over and over again; they are quite simple: wash your hands, do not touch your face, sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and then dispose of it properly. We must wear our masks in public spaces. Sanitize our hands. And we must be conscious of, and practice, social and physical distancing at all times.
In conclusion, I wish to thank the national community for their excellent cooperation and support, and for the strong measures we have been implementing to save lives here in St. Kitts and Nevis. Remember, this pandemic is a serious threat to our way of life. We must take all necessary precautions to reduce the risk to ourselves, our family, community and indeed our beloved Country. We are in this fight together. And together in Unity we shall triumph.
May God Bless Us All And May His Mercies Long Be With Us!
I thank you.