Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 26, 2021 (SKNIS): As the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis continues its fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus, health officials have announced that incoming cruise passengers will be allowed entry into the Federation after providing a negative Antigen test. Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Hazel Laws said during the Prime Minister’s monthly press conference on August 24, 2021, that the improvements in the Antigen Test have led the government to accept them for entry into the Federation.
“There is a lot of improvement with the rapid Antigen Tests in terms of their performance, in terms of their level of sensitivity; the test’s ability to pick up positives has also improved, and the level and rate of specificity which is the test’s ability to rule out the disease have also improved. So, these Rapid Antigen Tests, their performance has improved. But the bottom line is that these cruise passengers would just be on island for less than a day, and they would only be interacting with fully vaccinated local bubble tours. The Cabinet took the decision that we are at the stage to accept this level of risk,” said CMO Dr. Laws.
It is important to note that the inbound cruise passenger is different from the overnight passenger that would arrive via air. Inbound passengers via air are still required to submit a negative PCR-Test before they are admitted entry into the Federation. Most recently, the Federation has seen a drastic increase in the daily confirmed cases of COVID-19. CMO Dr. Laws urged persons to adhere to both the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures available to them.
“When we look at the data or information gleaned through the contact tracing process what are we learning? What we realized is that there are a number of clusters occurring in St. Kitts, for example, there is a cluster of cases impacting the football community, there is a cluster affiliated with the Chinese community, there is a cluster affiliated with the Spanish-speaking community. We have had a few inbound passengers identified as positive and a few outbound passengers identified as positive…What we are seeing is that there is non-adherence to the COVID-19 protective measures. So, persons are interacting and intermingling without wearing their facemask, without sanitizing hands, and a lack of social and physical distance has gone through the window,” said Dr. Laws.
Dr. Laws urged persons to amend their behavior in order for the Federation to come out of the pandemic on the safe side, stressing the importance of non-pharmaceutical measures and vaccination against COVID-19. The Ministry of Health is encouraging persons to get vaccinated with doses of the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine. Also, persons will be able to be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine starting on September 1, 2021.