Post- Cabinet Briefing For Monday, February 08, 2021
Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 12, 2021 (SKNIS): The Team Unity Cabinet of Ministers met on Monday, February 08, 2021, at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris. Several issues affecting the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis were deliberated on.
- The National COVID-19 Task Force, including the Permanent Secretaries of National Security, Health and Foreign Affairs, came to the Cabinet and gave a comprehensive report on the challenges and successes of the Federation in managing the COVID-19 pandemic especially since the reopening of the borders almost four months ago.
- The Chief Medical Officer gave the usual statistics and filled in the Cabinet that of the 40 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases recorded so far, 38 were fully recovered and the other two active cases were in stable condition. She gave an overview of the interaction between hotel managers who have been managing COVID-19 quarantine sites, and that the sites thus far have been functioning satisfactorily. She also informed that at the JNF General Hospital Laboratory the molecular machine was up and running and that the Alexandra Hospital in Nevis is in the process of securing their own molecular machine. She also reported on the breach at the hotel and was satisfied that all staff who interacted with the COVID-19 positive guest were in quarantine. She explained the way forward for immunization in order to achieve herd immunity and explained the threshold needed to achieve this result. The Cabinet was advised that the public education campaign in relation to the vaccine was being rolled out, and now that more labs are coming into operation testing can now be done more expeditiously. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health also reported that the Cuban Brigade is likely to be here for another three months to support our health professionals at this critical time.
- The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) gave statistics over a comparative period spanning January 2019 to January 2021 where the expected decreases were highlighted. Additionally, he reported that the backlog of cargo at the port has been cleared and that SCASPA was looking at what needs to be done in order to achieve the seamless handling of both cargo and passengers in the future.
- The ICT (Information and Communication Technology) technician walked the Cabinet through the process for entering and departing the Federation. The Chief Immigration Officer shared the statistics of incoming and departing passengers over the period and so far, there were no major challenges experienced with immigration.
- The Acting Comptroller of Customs informed the Cabinet that the Customs Department will be working more closely with ICT to facilitate the online clearing of goods.
- The CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority shared that the average passenger load was down considerably, however over 4000 persons had been trained to function during the COVID-19 pandemic and she suggested that the yachting sector may be able to pick up the slack if a bubble on the South-East Peninsula could be created to accommodate yachtsmen.
- The Head of the Compliance Task Force gave an overview of the functions and hoped for a more robust enforcement programme.
- The Chief of Police stated that law enforcement officers have been assisting all the other government agencies in the fight against COVID-19 and would continue to do so. Also, he reported that major crimes are still down, but that petty larceny is still a concern.
- The Commander of St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force (SKNDF) spoke to the support given to the Compliance Team by the Coast Guard and other soldiers.
- The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contributed that the involvement of her ministry with the Task Force is a necessary conduit for sharing travel advisories promptly with their partners regionally and internationally.
- The Director of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) updated the Cabinet on the new properties which were being visited in an effort to get more hotel rooms available for both quarantine and vacation in place.
- The Medical Officer in Nevis shared her experiences and issues relating to the cooperation on COVID-19 related matters in terms of protocols and procedures between the two islands.
- At the end of the presentations from all the technicians, Cabinet considered submissions which would redound to economic stimulation within the Federation.
- The Attorney General reported on the upcoming peer review for the Federation and gave the different dates for the visiting team’s meeting with stakeholders.