Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 15, 2020 (SKNIS): Quarantine procedures for persons travelling to St. Kitts and Nevis are being reviewed ahead of the eventual reopening of the borders to regional and international air passengers.
Returning nationals and residents on charter flights are the only persons currently allowed to enter the island. Applications for special groups will be considered. Such was the case earlier this month when scores of students from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine were allowed back to continue their studies.
Every traveller is tested before arriving in the country and again immediately after entry. A 14-day mandatory quarantine in a government-designated facility follows and then another test on the 14th day. These protocols largely remain unchanged. What is under review is the stay in the government-designated facility.
“Quarantine site categories will be looked at including certified hotels, pre-approved home quarantine, government and other facilities,” said Dr Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff of the Joseph N. France General Hospital.
The statement was made on Tuesday night (July 15) during the Leadership Matters Virtual Forum Series that airs on ZIZ Radio and Television as well as other media outlets.
Home quarantine of suspected cases was utilized in March and April. However, Dr Wilkinson explained that the measure had its challenges as some individuals deliberately broke quarantine. This prompted authorities to end the practice.
The reintroduction of home quarantine will depend on several factors Dr Wilkinson stated. Health authorities will have to visit the site and assess its effectiveness to isolate a suspected case as well as the risk to any other individual (s) in the household. There is also the consideration of the manpower needed to patrol/secure the household to prevent the quarantined individual from leaving the premises.
The use of technology is one tool that will be employed to help manage the process.
“We will also be utilizing an app for tracking persons that has geofencing capabilities,” the medical chief of staff indicated.
Geofencing is a location-based service that alerts users and administrators when a virtual boundary is entered or exited. Dr Wilkinson said that the app “will be mandatory for all travellers.”
“These are things that are being discussed, and no decision has been made on them as yet,” he added. “Hopefully going forward, with the personal responsibility that we are expecting persons to take and if persons obey the quarantine rules, we would be able to expand the number of places where persons can be quarantined.”
No date has yet been announced when the borders will reopen.