Coronavirus test kits arrive in St Kitts-Nevis; gov’t seeks help from Cuba

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Coronavirus test kits arrive in St Kitts-Nevis; gov’t seeks help from Cuba
Image of COVIC-19 test kits (not necessarily same as those that arrived in St Kitts)
Image of COVIC-19 test kits (not necessarily same as those that arrived in St Kitts)

(PRESS RELEASE) — The first batch of the Coronavirus test kits to be used by the public sector in St Kitts and Nevis reportedly arrived in St Kitts on Friday, March 13, according to a source.

“The coronavirus test kits reached today (Friday) and training will begin this weekend. Testing will begin next week,” the source disclosed.

Testing has been done through a public lab two weeks ago, but although St Kitts and Nevis has reported no case of the coronavirus, there are growing concerns over the weak leadership in the Federal Ministry of Health in its planning and risk communication and what appears to be “total control of information by the two ministers of health in St Kitts.”

At a St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) press conference on Thursday, Dr Terrance Drew, who holds the portfolio of health in the shadow cabinet made another plea to the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government to seek the assistance of the Government of Cuba.

Dr Terrance Drew (left) Hon Marcella Liburd (center) and Mr Bruce Lockerbie (right)

Dr Drew, a medical internist and who has been producing and providing daily information on COVIC-19, again pointed out that based on the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), that St Kitts and Nevis is of a “very high risk,” a good portion of the St Kitts and Nevis population is vulnerable.

“Those are hypertensives, diabetics, those with underlying health conditions. We have a high incidence and prevalence of hypertension and diabetes and lung disease such as asthma here in St Kitts and Nevis and even persons with immuno-deficient diseases such as cancer – the number one killer of persons in St Kitts and Nevis – which means that there is a large number of persons who are vulnerable to severe complications as a result of COVIC-19,” said Dr Drew.

He pointed out that St Kitts and Nevis lacks the presence of an infectious disease specialist.

“We do not have a lung specialist or pulmonologist who would deal with the severe complications as a result and we do not have an intenstive care specialist,” said Dr Drew who again, repeated the call he made three weeks ago for the government to seek the assistance of the Government of Cuba, pointing out that Jamaica recently requested some 50 to 100 nurses from Cuba.

“I have been calling on this government to call the Cuban (ambassador) in and ask for help in setting up the infrastructure and a plan to specifically to deal with those persons who would become infected,” said Dr Drew, who added that when worked in the United States at the tail end of the H1N1 “and I saw how devastating that was and that is what prompted me to ask this government to request help from the Government of Cuba.”

He said he was not aware that there is a lab in St Kitts and Nevis that is CARPHA-certified to test for the coronavirus. He said he is aware that a lab was mentioned by the junior health minister, Hon Wendy Phipps, but St Kitts and Nevis is not listed in the CARPHA statement where tests can be done but he stands to be corrected.

Ask about the protocol to identify carriers of the COVIC-19 virus at the borders of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Drew noted that all countries should be placed on the watch list.

Bruce Lockerbie, who was at the press conference to speak specifically about the establishment of a Sports Academy when the NextGen SKN Labour Party takes office following the next general election said: “When I arrived (at the Robert L Bradshaw International Airport) on Tuesday, I was quite surprised to do nothing more than to present my passport. When I arrived in Ecuador in 2005 I was breathalized. That was the time of SARS.”

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Friday announced that his country had recorded its first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) following other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries — Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent, St Lucia, the United States Virgin Islands and Guyana — where the virus has surfaced.

Browne said that the case was an “imported one” with the unidentified woman having arrived from the United Kingdom on March 10 2020 on a British Airways flight.

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