St Kitts: Refusing to heed Labour’s “lock down” advice, PM Harris buckles; admits an expected increase in COVID-19 cases

By Erasmus Williams

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(PRESS RELEASE) – Ignoring calls by the Political Leader of the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, The Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas and SKNLP Chairman, Dr Terrance Drew for a shutdown of the country if the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in St Kitts and Nevis is to be contained, prime minister Dr Timothy Harris who first imposed a 14-day 7 pm to 5 am curfew, took to national television close to midnight Monday to announce a March 31 to April 3 total shutdown following the quadrupling of the number of confirmed cases within two days.

During an afternoon press conference on March 24, Dr Harris told the nation: “Would you imagine that with over 170 countries already infected with the virus, the smallest country in the world has so ably managed the preparedness, that there has been not one case and all the tests on which we have relied have gone to the designated authority outside of St Kitts and Nevis and they have been negative” and that CARPHA had praised him for making St Kitts and Nevis the model for the world in keeping the coronavirus from penetrating St Kitts and Nevis borders. Dr Harris repeated the boast at a virtual political meeting in the studios of the state-owned ZIZ Broadcastunbg which ended after 11 p.m.

By midday the following day, March 25, Dr Harris’ junior minister of health, Hon Wendy Phipps, told a deceived and shocked nation “that at 11:03 p.m. on Tuesday March 24, 2020, the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis confirmed its first two coronavirus cases.”

On March 26, 2020, former prime minister Douglas warned that a lock down of St Kitts and Nevis was necessary to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading in communities.

“I call on the government to do the right thing to contain this viral spread. I call on the government to halt it immediately by taking the inevitable action, even if it means locking down the country for a while…before we begin to see the tested positives develop symptoms and the symptomatic patients begin to race to the hospitals to seek care,” said Douglas, who as prime minister was lead spokesman within CARICOM for health issues and had successfully spearheaded the PANCAP programme on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.

Dr Douglas also called on the Timothy Harris-led government to tell the truth and disclose to the people of St Kitts and Nevis, the number of confirmed and unconfirmed cases of COVID-19.

“We the citizens of this country need to know and we must know if we can help to contain the spread of this virus throughout our nation and protect ourselves individually as families, as friends, as neighbours and as co-workers – all of whom are fellow citizens here in St Kitts and Nevis,” Dr Douglas said.

Prime Minister Harris on March 28, 2020 imposed a State of Emergency with a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to keep people off the streets.

“This is part of our scaled up response to contain COVID-19 and minimize harm to our people,” Harris said in an early morning broadcast.

On March 28, there was a report that several employees at ttwo government controlled institutions have been quarantined, amidst reports that one or more persons have tested positive for the coronavirus.

During the second part of Inside the News on WinnfM on March 28, Dr Harris rubbished the suggestion of a total lockdown.

On March 29, Minister of State Phipps shocked the nation when she confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 in St Kitts and Nevis to bring the number to seven.

On March 30, Dr Drew said he was not surprised by the seven confirmed cases and expressed the view that as a result of the epidemiological course and the virus running its course more cases of coronavirus will be confirmed . By mid-day Minister Wendy Phipps announced the eight confirmed case.

On Monday 30, March, in a 10.30 pm broadcast, Prime Minister Harris announced a 24-hour COVID-19 Lock-Down from 7 p.m. on March 31, 2020 to 6 am on April, 3, 2020 admitting that “the number of cases will increase, peak, plateau and then decline.”

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