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St Kitts – Nevis faces major threats of COVID-19 spike

BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Although there are serious concerns about the accuracy of the recent COVID-19 figures for St Kitts and Nevis, especially the number of cases, the situation may become worse if the reports about a possible spike within the prison are true.

The word from more than one person linked to Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) in Basseterre, St Kitts, is that there are at least 14 prisoners with COVID-19 who are tightly locked into a small “condemned” cell meant to hold persons facing execution. It is said that the prisoners, exposed to sunlight for only 30 minutes a day, and with totally inadequate and very poor nutrition, are infecting and re-infecting one another and may never fully recover from the dreaded disease.

In addition to the plight of the 14 prisoners, there is also the fact that it took six days before their COVID-19 tests results were returned. The approximately 30 persons with whom they came into contact during that time, like the prisoners, are totally in the dark and completely unaware of the risks and very serious danger to which they were exposed. For all we know, these people who interacted with the prisoners may now be infecting everyone they come into contact with. In fact, the situation has to be dealt with immediately, starting with identifying the persons who may be infected and those people with whom they interacted. If these steps are not taken now, the number of COVID-19 cases will become uncontrollable.

The situation, already frightening, is said to be getting completely out of control. The prime minister’s brother, Denzil Harris, deputy prison chief, is directly responsible for all matters affecting the institution and is now being “accused of a complete cover-up.” In addition to accusations that Harris is putting political concerns ahead of the health of the prisoners and people of St Kitts and Nevis, there is also talk among prisoners and their families about the deputy prison chief’s alleged “inhumane treatment of the unfortunate prisoners,” who through no action or fault of their own are all locked away in one death-row cell.

Worse, it is feared that the prison officers may inevitably come into contact with the infected prisoners and pass on the dreaded disease to their families and friends. If this happens, the country may not be able to control or manage the situation.

Behind the scenes, it is said that while medical officers and other health personnel are deeply concerned about the inhumane treatment of the prisoners, they are also worried that the situation seems to be getting completely out of control.

One of them put his cards on the table, stating: “As a national and a doctor, if what we are hearing about the possible major spike in the prison is true, I feel sorry for the men in the condemned cell, the general prison population, the prison staff and their families, and, also our country and our citizens.

“The matter must be investigated immediately but, in the meantime, the prisoners must be kept separately and encouraged to provide the names of those with whom they interacted. We make a strong appeal for the relatives of prisoners to inquire into their welfare. The prisoners must be informed, tested and cared for. There is a lot of work to be done by the prison management and even more so by the ministry of health and the office of the prime minister.

“In the best interests of our country and our people, we are prepared to help immediately in any way we can.”



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