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Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 18, 2020 (SKNIS): The Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was passed in St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on November 17, 2020, further strengthening the effective implementation of the COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2020, that was also passed on November 17.  

Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, guided the Bill through the various stages of the parliament yesterday. She explained that the Bill puts into legislation, the conditions which mandate the operationalization of the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) in the event of any national disaster or emergency.

It currently works in tandem with the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and is an important partner in designing local COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“We are creating the legal framework that will allow it [the HEOC] to operate and function within the framework required for them to do so,” Minister Byron-Nisbett stated.

The Bill was supported by Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps, Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Labour.

“When the history of COVID-19 and it’s response would have been written in term of St. Kitts and Nevis, one of the legacy projects that we can say all emerge from all of this would have been the creation, officially of the HEOC,” the senator said, noting that the powers of the Centre are now cemented in legislation.

The Bill outlines the following members of the Executive Committee of the HEOC: Chief Medical Officer as Incident Commander; Medical Officer of Health for Nevis; Medical Chief of Staff; and the Health Planner along with the Director and Deputy Director of Institutional Nursing Services. Other Members of the Executive Committee are the Coordinator of Nursing Services; Chief Epidemiologist; Operations Manager Hospital Services, and the Medical Statistician.

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