Connect with us

Caribbean News

Jamaica among countries to receive more test kits from PAHO

Published

on

KINGSTON, April 22 (JIS): Jamaica is expected to be among the regional countries to receive coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits from the latest batch being provided by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Director of PAHO, Dr.  Carissa Etienne, said 4.5 million additional Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits are being dispatched to member states across North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

“This week, we are dispatching 1.5 million more test kits throughout the region followed by another three million next week, to strengthen [the] laboratory surveillance networks in our member states,” she outlined.

Presentation in April 2020 to Jamaica

These will be in addition to more than 500,000 already supplied to some 34 countries, the Director indicated during a digital media briefing on Tuesday (April 21). 

PAHO indicated that between February 13 and April 15, Jamaica was provided with approximately 19,000 PCR reactions (primers and probes) along with additional material necessary for detecting COVID-19 in samples tested.

The organisation has also provided COVID-19 test training for personnel at the National Influenza Centre, situated at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, and the National Public Health Laboratory.

The PCR technique is used to amplify trace amounts of DNA located in or on almost any fluid or surface where such may be deposited.

The amplified segments are then compared with those from known sources for verification of the specific pathogen for which testing is being conducted.

Dr. Etienne said PAHO’s provisions form part of efforts to assist member countries and territories, totalling about 52, in accelerating and expanding COVID-19 testing, based on the rapid extent to which the disease has spread regionally and globally.

Advertisement

She informed that as at April 20, the total number of confirmed cases across the region totalled 893,120, of which 42,686 persons have died.

She informed that as at April 20, the total number of confirmed cases across the region totalled 893,120, of which 42,686 persons have died.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness reports that Jamaica’s confirmed cases rose to 233, as at April 21, of which six persons have died, with 27 recovering.

Dr. Etienne argued that as the pandemic continues to impact the region, “it is vital for all countries to actively embrace preventative measures, while preparing for more cases, hospitalisations, and even deaths”.

 “We need a clearer view of where the virus is circulating and how many people have been infected, in order to guide our actions. It is important to accelerate and expand testing to track the spread of COVID-19 in the Americas,” the Director further stressed.

Dr. Etienne said expanded and decentralised testing will enable regional stakeholders to better monitor the pandemic’s trends within each country.

 “Expanded testing will also allow local health authorities to implement and strengthen contact tracing, to quickly isolate suspected cases and break the chain of transmission in communities. When combined with other basic public health measures, testing can be a powerful tool to manage the pandemic and save lives,” the PAHO Director pointed out.

She cited the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Germany where this approach has been successful, and encouraged PAHO member states to “follow their example and expand their existing testing capacities”.

Dr. Etienne said prior to the COVID-19 pandemic declaration, many regional countries were prepared to test and detect cases of the virus.

Advertisement

She pointed out that by the end of February, PAHO had distributed reagents that were required for PCR testing and provided training for the appropriate use to more than 30 member states.

The Director emphasised that PCR testing remains “the gold standard for diagnosing cases and isolating them”, adding that the application is affordable and highly accurate when performed by well-trained personnel in public health laboratories.

Dr. Etienne said while PAHO continues to provide critical material to maintain this core detection capacity within the region’s public health laboratory network, several countries have found it “increasingly difficult” to sustain this undertaking as the number of cases has increased.

“We fully recognise that ramping up testing capacity for COVID-19 is a challenge for many countries in our region, which limits effective public health measures and the timely access to healthcare. This is partly due to the uneven capacity of health systems to quickly process a large volume of tests,” she indicated.

Advertisement

Another challenge, Dr. Etienne noted, relates to manufacturers who, she said, “are not providing enough tests as quickly as we need”.

“Even sophisticated companies in our region have been forced to exponentially scale up their supply chains, output capacity, and distribution, in just a couple of months. That level of scale-up is unprecedented. However, we are seeing encouraging signs that the market is starting to catch up,” she said.

Equally important, the Director added, is the need to ensure that these emerging tests are reliable and efficacious.

“The landscape is changing fast and PAHO will continue to help quickly evaluate new tests as they become available. PAHO is providing guidance; therefore, that will support national regulatory authorities and Ministries of Health in making sound decisions. Our platforms and expert teams are available to all member states as a resource to guide and support you,” she added.

Dr. Etienne also underscored the need for equitable access by all member states to the test kits, and encourages manufacturers to work closely with PAHO to ensure this.

She lamented that each death from COVID-19, “represents a life cut short, a family in mourning, and wasted potential for the people of the Americas”.

Against this background, Dr. Etienne said PAHO “sincerely hopes that the measures that have been implemented in many member states, thus far, are sufficient in flattening the curve significantly”.

JIS News by DOUGLAS McINTOSH

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Caribbean News

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

Published

on

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.

 

Continue Reading

Caribbean News

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

FIND US ON FACEBOOK

TRENDING