BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 04, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Guided by the latest statistics on the COVID-19 situation in the region, local health experts are standing behind the Government’s decision to withdraw St. Kitts and Nevis’ participation in the CARICOM Travel Bubble arrangement.
Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, while appearing on Tuesday (November 03) night’s edition of Leadership Matters, indicated that there has been a recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the region.
“Since the last reported CARPHA situation report, an additional 7,019 cases were confirmed in 27 countries within the Caribbean, bringing the region’s total confirmed cases to 277,170. This total represents a three percent increase in the number of confirmed cases which is significant, and a total of 4,564 deaths as of November 02. A number of countries in the ‘bubble’ which the prime minister referred to are experiencing an increase in their cases with possible community spread. These are Barbados, Antigua, Dominica, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Dr. Wilkinson, who is also a member of the National COVID-19 Task Force.
Moreover, the medical expert shared the concern expressed by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris in that some countries that are a part of the bubble arrangement have more relaxed entry protocols and requirements.
He said, “Once we continue to have different entry requirements across CARICOM countries, we will have different levels of risk and exposure to the virus. Our low risk status that we currently hold will be jeopardized by any country with a less stringent protocol for entry than we have. The negative PCR test prior to arrival and a 14-day quarantine and ‘vacation-in-place’ are what have kept us safe thus far and made us a preferred destination on the tourism map.”
“Once we keep the health and safety of the nation as our primary focus then every decision thereafter is made much easier. That is why after reevaluating the situation with regards to the increased spread of the virus in some of the countries in the regional CARICOM Bubble, we came to the decision in the best interest of the nation to exit the bubble,” Dr. Wilkinson added.
As it now stands, all travellers from within the CARICOM region will have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement, in addition to submitting a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival.