#KINGSTON, April 22 (JIS): The Government is documenting information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to better understand the virus, improve the management and treatment of the infection, while boosting the resilience of the country’s public health system.
Speaking in a recent interview with JIS News, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said work is under way to ensure that the country and the health system learn from the pandemic.
“We have an Epidemiology Unit headed by Dr. [Karen] Webster Kerr and we are documenting all that is happening… because we need to learn from this experience and we need to use this experience to make the public health system more resilient. It is something that we need to do and it is something that I am pushing for,” he said.
Dr. Tufton noted that the Health Ministry is collaborating with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to document responses being generated through a call centre being manned by medical students.
The Government has instituted several measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in Jamaica, including the closure of all business process outsourcing (BPO) facilities for 14 days starting Wednesday (April 22); the mandatory wearing of masks in public, an islandwide curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily; closure of the country’s airports and seaports to incoming travellers, a stay-at-home order for persons 70 years and older, having non-essential employees work from home, limiting public gatherings to not more than 10 persons, the closure of schools, among others.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness recommends that persons practise proper hygiene by frequently washing hands with soap and running water or using a sanitiser, and observe social distancing by staying three to six feet away from others when in public.
The social distancing rule is particularly important in preventing persons from coming into contact with droplets from the cough or sneeze of others who are sick.
JIS NEWS BY CHRIS PATTERSON
Cruising should slow down says PAHO
By Dana Malcolm
‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.
“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.
Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1
By Dana Malcolm
#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.
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.
Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
By Sherrica Thompson
#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.
“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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