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The 15 COVID-19 Questions every Health Minister should be asking



#WorldHealthOrganization – March 3, 2020 — A string of questions and whether they can be answered in the affirmative will give governments and citizens of the countries of the world clear perspective about readiness for COVID-19, the new coronavirus which has claimed over 3,100 lives in its three-month existence.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation Director General listed the probing questions during a news conference on Thursday February 27, 2020.

Dr. Ghebreyesus informed the watching world that the earnest and honest response of the various Ministers of Health will be the indicator of a country’s true preparedness for the coronavirus.

The first question points to an eventuality that many countries either hope or had hoped would never come; the arrival of COVID-19 within its borders.

Question one: “Are we ready for the first case?”


The second question is a natural follow-up and asks: “What will we do when the first case arrives?”

Since no one wants to see a community spread of coronavirus, the Director General pointed to the next focus which, according to him, must be:  “Do we have an isolation unit ready to go?”

The rapid rate at which COVID-19 has infected people of countries around the world has stretched capacity; human and supplies alike.

Dr. Ghebreyesus advised, Health Ministers must literally check stock and question, “Do we have enough medical oxygen, ventilators and other vital equipment?”

Jamaica Minister of Health at Norman Manley Intl Airport

Travel and global connectivity by air and sea have made this virus go viral in record time; it is nearly impossible to ascertain who is where and where people may end up.

The Director General is asking for health care leaders to consider this mobility of people in their plans, with this question:  “How will we know if there are cases in other areas of the country?”

Establishing protocols in the public and private sector is also critical, especially for medical professionals. 

The question should be: “Is there a reporting system that all health facilities are using and a way to raise an alert if there is a concern?”


Additionally, the question: “Do our health workers have the training and equipment they need to stay safe?”

Thousands of health care workers have been sickened by coronavirus, some have also died.

Standard practices must also be established among these health practitioners and the WHO advises that it should be asked: “Do our health workers know how to take samples correctly from patients?”

Travel restrictions, advisories and bans have been imposed in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.  The $7.6 trillion travel and tourism industry, despite being a significant economic driver, has been put second place when possible infections have turned up at borders; doors are being slammed shut on plane and boat loads of passengers.

CARPHA holds regional meeting to share COVID-19 strategies for Caribbean region

Dr. Ghebreyesus said Health Ministers must ensure they can satisfactorily answer this question, which is:  “Do we have the right measures at airports and border crossings to test people who are sick?”

Accuracy and expediency are also sought after, as health care system managers aim to determine as soon as possible who is or is not carrying COVID-19. 

The WHO offered this question to assist proficiency: “Do our labs have the right chemicals that allow them to test samples?”

It has been widely communicated that COVID-19 has proven fatal for the elderly and those with serious pre-existing health conditions.  Medical teams must know: “Are we ready to test patients with severe or critical disease?”

Bahamas Health Minister holds press conference to announce protocols to fend off COVID-19

Another question helps to circumvent complications for Coronavirus patients; “Do our hospitals and clinics have the right procedures to prevent and control infections?”

Already, there are disturbing accounts of fear-filled citizens who are rowdily rejecting their own people due to well-founded concerns of contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19.  The WHO is strongly advocating against stigmatization and asks Health leaders to consider this…

Turks and Caicos Islands Health Team hold news conference

“Do our people have the right information; do they know what the disease looks like? In 90 percent (of patients) it is a fever and in 70 percent (of patients) it is a dry cough.”

Fake news and fear-mongering are popular but counter-productive pastimes for far too many individuals in this social media age.  Dr. Ghebreyesus challenges leaders to come up with a strategy for media messaging.

Cruise ship blocked from entering Jamaica and Cayman Islands; crew member was confirmed to have influenza

“Are we ready to fight rumors and misinformation with clear and simple messages that people can understand?”

The final and fifteenth question is likely the most critical.

“Are we able to have our people on our side to fight this outbreak?”

The war being waged against COVID-19 is futile without community buy-in.  Messages about hygiene and trust of people to self-quarantine are all dependent upon a symbiotic relationship hinged on a shared desire of governments and people to preserve the health of the nation.  The impact of the coronavirus has proven this healthiness encompasses both human lives and the economies which sustain them.

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Caribbean News

US Milestone Celebrated



#Jamaica, June 30, 2022 – This year marks the United States of America’s (USA) 246th anniversary of Independence, and the milestone was celebrated with a reception on June 28 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.  The event also featured the traditional United States Marine Corps Colour Guard ceremony.

Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who represented the Government of Jamaica, extended congratulations to the Government and people of the United States (US) on this significant achievement.

“The Government of Jamaica is pleased to join in commemorating this milestone with our American friends and partners. Today we celebrate a nation that continues to give practical meaning to the declaration of Independence and the vision of the founding fathers for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets have been central to the growth and development of the Union since 1776 and its transformation as a global leader,” he said.

For his part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry, said the countries’ partnership has been rewarding, and expressed the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening the cooperation between the nations.

“On behalf of the United States Mission to Jamaica, thank you for joining us as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. As we celebrate America’s independence, we also celebrate 60 years of partnership between our two countries. Together we have promoted democracy, human rights, and shared security concerns,” he said.

Jamaica established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1962, following its independence from the United Kingdom.

The partnership focuses on reducing corruption; increasing transparency and good governance; fostering Jamaican participation in regional security efforts; strengthening basic education; and increasing energy resiliency.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has provided more than US$16.4 million as well as donations of vaccines to assist Jamaica’s containment measures.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, the United States has collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to issue a record number of H2 visas, bringing critical, temporary labour to the US, while providing jobs for thousands of Jamaicans that resulted in millions of dollars in remittances.

Significantly, the Peace Corps, which is also celebrating 60 years of partnership with Jamaica this year, will resume its operations on the island beginning September, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.


Contact: Rochelle Williams

Release: JIS

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Something is wrong with a little ‘Bump & Grind’ with minors, US court throws the book at R&B singer, R. Kelly



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#USA, June 30, 2022 – Convicted sexual predator Robert Kelly, better known as R. Kelly will spend the rest of his life in federal prison. He was sentenced to 30 years to life on Wednesday.

R. Kelly appeared before a federal judge in Brooklyn for Racketeering and Multiple Predicate Acts, Including Illegal Sex with Minors, Sexual Exploitation of Minors, Bribery, Coercion and Forced Labor racketeering.

The verdict was read by Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for New York east. Prosecutors say Kelly deserves to be sentenced in excess of 25 years because of the nature of his crimes. Kelly has been found guilty on all 9 counts. 45 witnesses testified against him. Kelly was found to be the head of a racketeering ring that involved his former security guards procuring children for him to have sexual relations with.

“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification,” said   Kasulis.

Kelly was convicted of bribery involving a public official regarding deceased singer Aaliyah who he illegally married when she was 15 years old and he was 27. The marriage was quickly annulled by her family and Aaliyah’s mother told documentary journalist Jim DeRogatis her daughter said she never wanted to see Kelly again.

After the two parted ways Kelly abused dozens more girls according to the prosecution.

“Mr. Kelly ran a criminal enterprise whose mission was to serve his sexual gratification by setting up a complex organization of enablers and handlers.  When his victims tried to escape, Mr. Kelly and his accomplices silenced them through bribery, intimidation, and physical violence,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.

The prosecution explained that young women were identified at concerts by Kelly who directed members of the Enterprise to escort them backstage following his musical performances. They then exchanged contact information with girls and women so that he and other members of the Enterprise could arrange travel and lodging for them to visit Kelly after.

The 54 year old will face a minimum of ten years in prison as the prosecution seeks the maximum sentence. Kelly’s lawyers say they are seeking a lower term considering his traumatic childhood where he was assaulted by a female family member as a child.

Charges against Kelly came in 2021 two years after the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly’ premiered in 2019.

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Another Tragedy for Texas, Truck load of migrants die from the heat after being trapped in a truck



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#Texas, USA, June 30, 2022 – At least 62 people, including children, crossed the US-Mexico border in a truck on Monday, probably hoping for a better life, and while they made it into the country 46 of them died before the truck’s doors could open and five more died at hospital.  Local media are describing it as the deadliest human smuggling case in modern US history.

US authorities say it was heatstroke and dehydration, the people were in what was supposed to be a refrigerated truck not unlike the ones used to ferry fresh food to supermarkets, only there was no working air conditioning in the truck and when firefighters arrived on the scene they say there was no sign of water either.

San Antonio Firefighters were called when one person stumbled out of the truck and collapsed by the road.  Fire Chief Charles Hood described in a press conference what they found when the doors opened.

“The San Antonio Fire Department responded to a report of a dead person and found the trailer — with a body outside and several that they could visibly see inside once the doors were open.  We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there.  None of us come to work imagining that.” he lamented.

Temperatures in San Antonio where the truck was discovered were as high as 37 degrees (Celcius).  When temperatures reach between 32° and 40° heat cramps and a little heat exhaustion starts to appear, between 40° and 50° heat exhaustion is apparent once the temperature goes past 54° then deadly heat strokes are likely.  Temperatures in cars can rise exponentially on hot days, dwarfing the temperatures outside.

A study from  Arizona State University found that cars can reach 71° in summer.   A surface that hot will give human third degree burns.  The study found that cars can hit that mark in under an hour. This usually only refers to parked cars since moving vehicles either have the windows down or the air conditioning on.  The truck carrying the migrants had neither.

Miraculously 16 survived initially, four of them being children, unfortunately later the public would learn, five of the survivors passed away at hospital.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heatstroke and heat exhaustion, no sign of water either,” said Hood.

The nationalities of several of the dead have been confirmed to be Honduran, Mexican and Guatemalan.

Three people are said to be in custody.

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