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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, March 18, 2020 (PLP PR Media Inc.) — In the wake of a fake post doing the rounds on social media Tuesday March 17 to the effect that St. Kitts and Nevis had recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case, Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris has warned there will be a strong penalty for such kind of unpatriotic behaviour.

“Why is it today the opposition elements tried to create a scare in the country and send around this lying abominable post that St. Kitts and Nevis has its first confirmed case, and they know it was a lie?” posed Dr Harris. “Why would they stoop so low to disrupt the peace and calm of our country?”

Prime Minister Harris made the remarks at the Newton Ground Primary School’s assembly hall, in the evening Tuesday March 17, where another in the series of Discussions for a Stronger, Safer Future town hall meeting in commemoration of Team Unity Administration’s fifth anniversary was taking place. The topic was ‘COVID-19: Discussions of the impact of the coronavirus’.

“In normal times it is bad enough but in abnormal times when we are facing crisis, the opposition elements are doing their very best ill-advisably to create confusion and disruption in the country which they know will only redound to the disadvantage of our people,” lamented the Honourable Prime Minister, who also has lead responsibility for Human Resource Development, Health and HIV/AIDS issues in the CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet.

“That is why we will review the law to ensure that this kind of unpatriotic behaviour, the circulation of fake news in an effort to destabilise St. Kitts and Nevis there will be a strong penalty for that kind of abominable behaviour going forward,” said Dr Harris. “We will ask the Attorney General to spend some time looking at the legislative framework to deal with this, and other issues that are emerging.”

The town hall meeting was also addressed by Mr Abdias Samuel, the National Disaster Coordinator at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), who is the Chairperson of COVID-19 National Task Force; and Dr Hazel Laws, the Chief Medical Officer, who is the co-Chairperson of COVID-19 National Task Force.

The two officials observed that there was no confirmed COVID-19 case in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and advised on the best practises as to how to keep the virus at bay. Also present at the town hall meeting were the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Delores Stapleton-Harris, and Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital, Dr Cameron Wilkinson.

The town hall meeting was moderated by the Minister of Public Infrastructure the Hon Ian Patches Liburd. At the head table were the Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Shawn Richards, Minister of Agriculture the Hon Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Tourism the Hon Lindsay Grant, Senior Minister and Minister of Labour the Hon Vance Amory, and Minister of State for Health the Hon Wendy Phipps. Others present were the Deputy Speaker the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, and Ambassador his Excellency Jonel Powell.

Members of the COVID-19 National Task Force are Mr Abdias Samuel (Chairperson); Dr Hazel Laws (Co-chair); Ms Kaye Bass, PS Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr Don James, SCASPA; Mr Ken DeSilva, Customs and Excise; Mrs Mercilyn Hughes, Chief Immigration Officer; Major Walter Bass, Coast Guard; Mr Melvin James, Director of Agriculture; Supt Cromwell Henry; Supt Travis Rodgers; Mr Bryan Dyer, Director NDMD (Nevis); and Mrs Claricia Langley-Stevens, NEMA.

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