The Only COVID-19-free CARICOM Nation Prepares for Virus; Cases Elsewhere in the Caribbean Continue to Rise

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Monday March 23, 2020 – As part of St Kitts and Nevis’ comprehensive plan for and response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris says his government has committed an additional EC$16.9 million (US$6.3 million) to the health sector.

That is in addition to the EC$62 million (US$23 million) previously budgeted for the sector this year.

“We will spare no efforts and resources to keep our country safe,” the Prime Minister said in an address to the nation last night.

He said several government departments and institutions are already in advanced discussions on the matter.

“Our Ministry of Labour and Social Security has spearheaded a dialogue with our partners on tourism and manufacturing and we are working with employers to coordinate a response to the evolving situation,” the twin-island federation’s leader said, adding that the Social Security Board will convene a special meeting today to determine its own response.

“Our Ministry of Finance has also been part of the governmental outreach and it is fine-tuning a government response to a fiscal and economic situation. The Ministry of Tourism will spearhead outreach with tourism stakeholders as we re-calibrate our strategies on this important sector.”

St Kitts and Nevis has imposed some travel restrictions for non-nationals travelling from several countries: China, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. Those individuals will be refused entry.

There will also be a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for nationals arriving from those countries.

Prime Minister Harris has strongly advised citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to countries or jurisdictions where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and where there is local/community transmissions.

All non-national travellers arriving from any other international destination at all points of entry will go through an advanced screening process. They will also be subjected to the mandatory quarantine period and could also be refused entry into the country.

Over the weekend, Dominica and Grenada confirmed their first cases of COVID-19 while Belize announced its first cases today, which means that within the CARICOM region, St Kitts and Nevis is the only country that is COVID-19-free.

Trinidad and Tobago added another 40 people to their count of cases over the weekend, after 40 of a group of 68 nationals who returned to the twin-island republic from Guadeloupe after going on a cruise on the cruise ship Costa Favalosa on which COVID-19 cases were confirmed, tested positive for the virus at a government quarantine facility.

Two other Trinidadian women who were also on the cruise but returned a day before the other 68, had tested positive for the virus and were immediately hospitalized.

The number of cases there has risen to 50.

That number, added to cases elsewhere in the 15-member grouping, put the total number in CARICOM over 100: Jamaica (19), Barbados (17), Guyana (5), Suriname (5), the Bahamas (4), Haiti (2), St Lucia (2), Dominica (1), Grenada (1), Montserrat (1) and St Vincent and the Grenadines (1), Belize (1), Antigua and Barbuda (1).

Other Caribbean countries outside CARICOM that are dealing with the crisis are: the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Puerto Rico, French Guiana, Aruba, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, and Saint Barthelemy.

As of this morning, there were 338,307 cases of COVID-19 globally, including 14,602 deaths.

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