By Caribbean News Global contributor
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – COVID-19 has changed social and economic interactions that will require mental, emotional and financial adjustment if people are to survive, in the view of former St Kitts and Nevis prime minister Dr Denzil L Douglas.
“COVID-19 coronavirus knows no national boundaries. It doesn’t care whether you are young, old, or rich or poor. It does not care what your political affiliation is. It is an equal opportunity virus that is affecting leaders of countries as much as it is affecting our frontline doctors and nurses as well as the ordinary people of our society. It would be naïve and irresponsible for any of us to take this crisis lightly,” said Douglas on his weekly radio programme “Ask the Leader.”
Noting the confirmation of eight positive cases in St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Douglas, a physician said that based on the epidemiology of this highly contagious disease, whereby each person carrying the virus would infect at least 2.5 persons, the numbers of persons testing positive for the disease is expected to rise exponentially during the next few days and weeks.
“The multiplier effect of the virus means that the health system in St Kitts and Nevis can quickly become overwhelmed. It is vital that the actions be taken now to stop transmission, prevent the spread of the virus and save lives,” said Dr Douglas, who expressed his “strong support for the chief medical officer, Dr Hazel Laws and her team to implore all citizens to follow the guidelines laid down by World Health Organisation (WHO), The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the local health authorities to ensure that we win the fight against COVID-19”.
Dr Douglas, who has been calling on prime minister Dr Timothy Harris to lockdown the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, encouraged all citizens and residents to respect the mandatory total lockdown that has been issued by the authorities.
“I support it wholeheartedly and without reservation, and I ask all citizens to obey the law enforcement officers as they put themselves at risk to ensure the safety of all our citizens. Staying at home will save lives. If all of us comply with these orders, the quicker will be our chances of controlling the contagion,” said Dr Douglas, who as prime minister was lead spokesman within CARICOM for health issues and had successfully spearheaded the PANCAP programme on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.
Dr Douglas further called on the authorities to use the period of lockdown to put in place all of the measures needed to address and arrest this health crisis.
” We must ensure that we have enough nurses, doctors with the specialist skills required to save lives. Isolation wards will need to be established to treat the sick and those who may be critically ill. If it is possible to establish this away from the general population of the J N France General Hospital (JNF), this would be ideal. There is the discussion in the public as to whether the private ward at the JNF would have been the best place for this isolation ward to be as it is so close to the maternity and children’s wards,” said Dr Douglas.
“It is highly likely that over the next few days and weeks that the first wave of those experiencing complications from the virus will begin to inundate our hospitals and health centers. The situation will get much worse before it gets better,” said Dr Douglas.