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Beware fake news and myths about Coronavirus, warn Tourism Health Specialists

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World Health Organization

#MIAMI (February 14, 2020) – Medical specialists reminded the hospitality sector that the Caribbean had only a very small chance of contracting Coronavirus but warned them to be wary of an unprecedented amount of misinformation and fake news circulating about the virus, especially on social media sites.  

Dr. Lisa Indar at a stakeholder meeting in Trinidad & Tobago related to the recent novel Coronavirus outbreak

Dr. Lisa Indar, Deputy Executive Director, Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), speaking during a webinar organized by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), said the risk for the region was “low to moderate” and stressed the Caribbean did not have any reported cases, largely because travelers to the region from affected countries had to take a number of commercial flights before reaching the region.  But, she said “that does not mean we cannot be prepared given the rapidly changing nature of this novel disease. We have had meetings with CMOs (Chief Medical Officers) and ministers of health to ramp up vigilance at our ports of entry.”

Several Caribbean countries have implemented a number of containment strategies to ensure the region is made as safe as possible from the virus and CARPHA was working closely with the private sector organization CHTA and its public sector counterpart the Caribbean Tourism Organization to ensure the hotel and tourism sectors were properly prepared.  

WHO Meeting

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), based on the recommendations of the emergency committee (International Health Regulations), declared the 2019 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern which Dr. Stephanie Fletcher-Lartey, resident specialist at CARPHA, said was a call for enhanced global coordination: “Once that has been declared, countries and various international organizations can tap into resources (to support the response to the outbreak).”

Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association

The regular flu virus had already killed at least 10,000 people in the United States of America this season and Dr. Indar urged people to take precautions from that disease whose symptoms include heavy coughing, sneezing, fever, and headaches and are similar to those for Coronavirus.

Washing hands regularly, avoiding close contact with people who may have symptoms, staying clear of crowds and seeking immediate medical attention are important precautions.

Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, echoed her colleague’s warnings about “fake news” poisoning the Caribbean and reported CARPHA was myth-busting by producing videos dealing with a lot of the questions so that everyone understands the issues and can focus on credible sources.  

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Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA, agreed with Dr. St. John, stating: “We have seen several false reports posted online in recent days alleging contamination at a hotel. This is irresponsible. People making such false accusations should be held liable for their actions. Any such reports should be scrutinized by CARPHA or the local health authorities before one even considers sharing.”

He pointed to a number of informational, reporting and monitoring protocols and procedures which are in place to help the hotel and tourism sector deal with medical emergencies, which have been carefully crafted by CARPHA and other regional health organizations.   

Jamaica Health Minister checks readiness at NMIA -File Photo

Dr. Indar along with Comito urged all of the region’s hotels which are not part of CARPHA’s Tourism Health Information System (THiS), which provides support information and helps to manage early warning procedures, to sign up.

“This is a very important tool which helps us to mitigate the spread of disease, and to protect the safety of residents and guests as well as the reputation of our destinations,” Dr. Indar stressed. 

To register for THiS, visit http://this.carpha.org or https://tinyurl.com/txjo7al.  

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Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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