By Caribbean News Global contributor
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – The former prime minister and political leader of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Dr Denzil L Douglas, has called for a lockdown of St Kitts and Nevis for two weeks to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading in communities following confirmation of two positive cases.
“I call on the government to do the right thing to contain this viral spread. … to contain it immediately by taking the inevitable action, even if it means locking down the country for two weeks,” said Dr Douglas. The adequate notices should be given to the security forces, the citizens and the nation to lock down the country before we begin to see the tested positives develop symptoms and the symptomatic patients begin to race to the hospitals to seek care,” Dr Douglas explained, given his experience as a former prime minister and lead spokesman within CARICOM on health issues and successfully spearheaded the PANCAP programme on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.
Dr Douglas also called on the Timothy Harris-led government to disclose to the people of St Kitts and Nevis, the number of confirmed and unconfirmed cases of COVID-19 in St Kitts and Nevis.
“It is highly irresponsible for the Team Unity government to have information of COVID-19 cases and hide it from the people of St Kitts and Nevis”, Dr Douglas queried. “How many cases do we have? Do we have two cases or is it 11? Is it 16? Is it 20? Is it 100 cases that we have here in St Kitts and Nevis? Dr Douglas inquired.
“We the citizens of this country need to know and we must know if we can help to contain the spread of this virus throughout our nation and protect ourselves individually as families, as friends, as neighbours and as co-workers – all of whom are fellow citizens here in St Kitts and Nevis,” Dr Douglas said during Thursday night’s virtual political meeting of his SKNLP at campaign headquarters.
“Those who are well with good immune systems will survive but those who are vulnerable, those who do not have the internal structure within the body to withstand these viral attacks will soon become symptomatic patients racing to our hospitals seeking care, but we do not have the capacity to care for them there,” said Dr Douglas, a physician by training.
He pointed out that there are not enough respirators in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to take care of all the sick at the same time.
“Soon we will see them having difficulty struggling to breathe and struggling to stay alive. That is not what we want for our people here. We hope not to see this scenario ever taking place in St Kitts and Nevis as such a scenario will mean that our healthcare system is overwhelmed and we know what will happen to our people,” Dr Douglas said.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the livelihood of employees in the travel and hospitality industry in St Kitts and Nevis.
Prime minister Dr Timothy Harris announced that a border shutdown took effect on March 25 at 11:59 pm for the closure of the Robert L Bradshaw International Airport on St Kitts and the Vance Amory International Airport on Nevis to all commercial airline flights until April 7.
The move only permits international air cargo and cargo by seafaring vessels to “maintain connectivity that enables the Federation to import needed commodities such as food, fuel, medical supplies and equipment,” according to Harris.
Hundreds of workers are unemployed following the closure of several hotels and businesses. The cruise industry has also limited their itineraries to ports in most regional destinations, including institutions, commercial hubs, financial centers, and small businesses.
As COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on health, financial and the recommendation for social distancing, other islands have implemented curfews, a state of emergency and Emergency Powers (Disasters) (COVID 19) Order.