PM Harris: Taking Covid-19 vaccination is an act of patriotism

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, April 9, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — St. Kitts and Nevis has successfully kept the negative effects of Covid-19 at bay by using non-pharmaceutical measures and with the availability of vaccines, Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris is advising it is now reliant on all to make the right decision which could determine whether the country recovers fast or slowly.

Prime Minister Harris made the observation when he delivered feature remarks at the ‘Government of St. Christopher and Nevis 2021 Dialogue with Private Sector on the Nation’s Recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic’ held on Thursday April 8 at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel, Frigate Bay.

“That is why we need to have all hands on deck – all involved,” said Dr Harris. “That is why the philosophy that we developed of an all of society response which has kept us safe with the best record among independent countries in the hemisphere must continue even now. That is why we are all here representing diverse interests.”

The country, Prime Minister Harris stated, is at an important stage in the vaccination rollout, and basing on the timeframe, St. Kitts and Nevis has perhaps one of the best records taking into consideration that the rollout started seven weeks ago on the 22nd of February and the fact that 30.2 percent of the targeted population have been inoculated for their first shot.

“It is a long journey but every step is an important one that gets us to the goal of herd immunity – the 70 percent target that we have set ourselves, and we need to commend each other and encourage each other for doing good,” said the Honourable Prime Minister. “Taking the vaccination is not just about the individual – an individual matters. Taking the vaccination is an act of selflessness. In my view is an act of patriotism, because the very act can determine how far we go. How soon we will get there.”

According to Dr Harris, whether the 2000-plus people in the tourism industry will be able to get to work again depends on whether or not the taxi drivers, those in the restaurants, and those in the schools get themselves vaccinated. He pointed out that it was the stark reality, and advised that the power lies in the people as everyone has to get informed and persuaded to take the vaccine.

The Dialogue, which was moderated by Financial Secretary Mrs Hilary Hazel and with remarks from President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Mrs Giselle Matthews, had presentations by Chief Medical Officer Dr Hazel Laws and Medical Chief of Staff at the JNF General Hospital Dr Cameron Wilkinson.

In attendance were Cabinet Ministers, the Hon Eugene Hamilton, the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, the Hon Lindsay Grant, the Hon Jonel Powell and the Hon Wendy Phipps, and Chair of Covid-19 National Taskforce Mr Abdias Samuel. Also present were Ambassadors His Excellency Michael Powell, His Excellency Vance Amory, and His Excellency Kevin Williams. It was attended by key representatives from businesses ranging from tourism, to banking, to manufacturing, wholesale and retail both from St. Kitts and from Nevis.

Touching on pressure that had been applied on St. Kitts and Nevis to allow cruise ships to dock, and giving the comparison with the islands that allowed cruise ships to dock, Prime Minister Harris observed that the country has only 44 cases of Covid-19 (all recovered), no deaths, and no significant hospitalisation.

“We exercised excellent leadership in the management of the Covid-19, and that is what has kept us safe, relying on the science for what it is worth, articulating very clearly and consistently – life first,” pointed out Dr Harris. “We say life first, livelihood after, because in fact if there is no life, there is no livelihood over which to be concerned. So we had to keep you safe first so that you could engage safely in your livelihood.”

He added: “Looking back one year, there are a lot of things that we have learnt and we still continue to learn, but I want to give the heartiest public commendation to our health professionals in the Ministry from the Minister downwards to the nurses who are doing an amazing job.”

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