Expansion of Vaccination Programme and Robust Contact Tracing and Testing Providing Reliable COVID-19 Information – Dr. Wilkinson

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 09, 2021 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis through the Ministry of Health has worked tirelessly to ensure that citizens and residents are educated and updated about the developments related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In response to a question posed to him during the September 08, 2021, NEOC Press Briefing, Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France Hospital (JNF) Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, explained that the scope and magnitude of the testing being done are partly responsible for any presumed delay in information.

“Concerns have been raised about the supposed tardiness of the dashboard, but we have two dashboards, one that displays the vaccination status, and one for the positive cases, deaths etc. As it relates to the vaccination dashboard, the vaccination programme has expanded, with 11 health centres across St. Kitts and 6 in Nevis. The information is then tabulated at the Newtown Health Centre and is sent to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for verification before it goes off on the dashboard. When the health centres close at five (5:00 PM), there is a lot more work involved in getting the information together,” said Medical Chief of Staff Dr. Wilkinson.

Dr. Wilkinson further stated that even as the NEOC COVID-19 Press Briefing was ongoing new data regarding vaccination and active cases were being received. He indicated that any delay in the release of the daily case count dashboard would be mainly due to the large number of tests that are being done on a daily basis in an effort to ensure that every possible case is covered across the Federation.

“As it relates to the dashboard that displays positive cases, as we move through our third wave of infections, there is a greater volume of testing that has to be done. With robust contact tracing, one case may lead to 20-30 contacts and you can see the volume of testing that has to be done on a daily basis. When the information goes to the lab, from the time the test goes on the machine it takes three-plus hours before it comes off, and then it is running in batches. We may at 6:00 PM get back five positive cases, but when the final batches are released sometimes we get the information back at 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM and you may have 20 plus positive cases there. So, if we were to put out that information at 6:00 PM it would misrepresent what the real situation is, and we believe in waiting until we get all the results back for the tests done in the 24-Hour period to reflect the true number of positive cases we got during that time,” said Dr. Wilkinson.

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to encourage the general public to adhere to all public health protocols and guidelines. The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination programme has been successful with over 74 percent of the target population receiving at least one dose and 66 percent being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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