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PM Holness Urges, Calm; Reassures Jamaicans of Coordinated Approach in Wake of COVID-19 in Jamaica

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#JamaicaOfficeofthePM – March 12, 2020 — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has reassured Jamaicans that the Government is prepared to deal with the novel coronavirus (COVID19).

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 10), the Ministry of Health and Wellness announced the first confirmed case of the virus in Jamaica.

In a statement to the media, from his office, Prime Minister Holness urged Jamaicans to remain calm as the Government provides the leadership and coordination to manage the situation as it evolves.

“While concern and fear are natural human reactions, there is no need for panic, hysteria, fearmongering or spreading of misinformation. This will only detract from the efforts of the government and redirect time and precious resources to correcting false information and resolving unnecessary disputes. I give you my assurance that the government will provide leadership and coordination and ensure that accurate and verified information is provided in a timely manner, on all pertinent matters relating to COVID19,” said Prime Minister Holness.

The Prime Minister’s statement follows the mobilization of the National Disaster Risk Management Council, last Thursday (March 5).

According to Prime Minister Holness, the Ministry of Health has outlined various risk-scenarios and the plans to mitigate. The Ministry of Finance has already made budgetary allocations to support mitigation plans. The Government has also updated its travel restriction list to include France, Germany, and Spain, and quarantine protocols have also been instituted.

In addition, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a protocol to advise the Leader of the Opposition directly of any development and will convene an ad hoc bipartisan parliamentary committee, to ensure information sharing at the political level.

In that regard, Prime Minister Holness added that the Government will continue to monitor and manage the situation on an hourly basis and make decisions for the public health and safety as necessary. He says no essential travel by Government officials will be done.

“We have strongly advised our schools that normally send athletes to the Penn Relays not to do so. I have advised, through the Cabinet Secretary, all government officials including Ministers, not to undertake nonessential travel. We are now analyzing the potential contagion impact of some large public events, and as the situation evolves, we will make appropriate decisions in favour of the health of the public. As it relates to schools, we have made financial provisions, recently announced by Minister Samuda, for schools to acquire hand sanitization products, as schools will continue to be open unless the Government of Jamaica directs otherwise,” said Prime Minister Holness.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness reiterated that there is no need for panic as the Government has now diligently activated all the plans to isolate cases, to trace and identify the cases of contact, and contain the potential spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Holness again urged members of the public to go about their normal business, take personal responsibility for health, hygiene, and travel, and pay close attention to the information provided by the Government.

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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