Even as St Kitts eyes closing active COVID-19 cases, PM ‘not rushing’ to reopen borders

Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris

While explaining why there is no rush to reopen St. Kitts and Nevis’ borders to non-essential traffic, Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris argued that, “Opening our borders prematurely would put at risk all our collective efforts to date and will bring much pain.”

Speaking on the matter last Saturday (May 9), during his seventh consecutive appearance on WINN (98.9) FM’s Inside the News, Harris indicated that his administration’s cautious approach to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is being guided by the advice of medical professionals.

“At this particular moment in time, the medical advice and all the professional advice we have is that our borders should remain closed for the foreseeable future,” Dr Harris said.

“When we see the deaths that are taking place – and the count keeps increasing – in New York, in New Jersey, in Florida and elsewhere in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom, I could appreciate why people would quickly understand the need for our borders to be closed and that we should not rush to open them,” he added, while noting that confirmed coronavirus cases in St. Kitts and Nevis “by and large have been imported.”

In the twin-island federation, health officials have reported no coronavirus-related hospitalisations and, better still, no deaths from the virus.  Moreover, as at 3:00 pm Sunday (May 10) all but one of the 15 persons who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus have since recovered.

“One of the challenges of the pandemic for all countries has been not to overwhelm the health system.  When the health system is overwhelmed, more persons would as a consequence die,” the Kittitian PM continued.

“Today, the health sector is stronger and better than it was [pre-COVID-19],” Harris said.

According to Harris, the reason why St Kitts and Nevis was the last CARICOM state to confirm imported COVID-19 cases was due largely to the country using the past several months to carry out an effective public education programme and strengthen local health facilities.

Speaking two weeks ago, on the same radio programme, Prime Minister Harris declared in no uncertain terms that, “There are no immediate plans to unlock our borders other than in the measured way that we have allowed them to operate.”

For instance, cargo flights, cargo ships, commercial courier flights, emergency medical flights and emergency flights approved by the Air Ports Authorities are being permitted entry (see SR&O No. 16 of 2020, Regulation 11, Section 2) into St. Kitts and Nevis.