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New rapid antigen tests poised to transform COVID-19 response in the Americas says PAHO

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PAHO conducting pilot studies in four countries to help make the most of these new diagnostics. Millions of these tests will be made available to countries of the Region at an accessible price via PAHO’s Strategic Fund  

Washington D.C. – STATEMENT from October 14, 2020 (PAHO) – The new affordable, reliable antigen diagnostic tests recently approved by WHO that can be performed anywhere are set to transform the region’s COVID-19 response by allowing health workers to carry out accurate, rapid testing, even in remote communities, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F Etienne, said today. 

Unlike previous rapid, antibody tests, which can show when someone has had COVID-19 but often give a negative result during the early stages of infection, the new rapid, antigen tests are much more accurate in determining if someone is currently infected.  

“By providing results quickly, the new test empowers frontline health workers to better manage cases by isolating patients to prevent further spread and to begin treatment immediately,” Etienne said in a press briefing. “If distributed widely, this new test will transform our COVID response.”   

Etienne said the diagnostic tests will be particularly useful in hard to reach areas without easy access to a laboratory, which have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.  

PAHO’s Strategic Fund

“Today, PAHO can provide access to hundreds of thousands of these tests via PAHO’s Strategic Fund, with millions more expected in the coming weeks,” said Etienne.  

The Strategic Fund is a regional technical cooperation mechanism for pooled procurement of essential medicines and supplies and is a central component of PAHO’s strategy to move towards Universal Health.  

A pilot study is also currently being conducted by PAHO in Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname.  “With support from WHO, we will be providing these diagnostic tests free of cost as we keep a close eye on how they’re used. The data collected via this study will help countries within and outside of our region make the most of these new diagnostics,” Etienne said.  

In the meantime, PAHO has also begun helping countries implement new testing protocols so that health workers know how to use the new diagnostics and report their results.  

The PAHO Director urged countries to “bring these new tests to the hospitals and health clinics on the frontlines of our fight against the virus. But it’s important to remember that no single innovation is a panacea,” she said.  

COVID-19 update in the Americas 

More than 18 million COVID-19 cases and more than 590,000 deaths have been reported and “The state of the pandemic in the Americas remains complex,” Etienne said. Canada is facing a second wave, cases in Argentina continue to accelerate, the Caribbean is seeing a high number of cases, and in many countries, the pandemic has also moved to less populated areas, she noted.  

“Since the pandemic began more than nine months ago, we have known that to beat this virus, we must transform our public health response. We need public health measures to prevent community transmission; fast, accurate and affordable diagnostic tests to determine when someone has been infected with COVID 19; new medicines to help COVID patients get better and, ultimately, a safe and effective vaccine,” Etienne said.  

PCR diagnostic tests, which are highly accurate and must be conducted in lab settings remain the gold standard for testing, but delays in getting results mean that people run the risk of infecting others while they await results, she noted. “The new tests will 

enable primary healthcare workers, whether they’re working in the middle of the Amazon, or in an urban center, to diagnose and care for patients immediately, stopping further infections in their tracks. And that is the gamechanger,” Etienne said.   

She added that “it remains critical to stay the course in every aspect of our COVID response. We must continue to adhere to public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus. We must continue to test and isolate cases and trace their contacts to prevent new infections. And we must continue to let data underpin our actions to prevent any new cases from spreading out of control.” 

Innovations must reach the people who need them most, and “To capitalize on the power of this new diagnostic, countries must make them available and accessible to everyone – regardless of who they are or where they live – to bring us closer to our promise for health for all,” Etienne said. The tests form part of the WHO Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop, procure and distribute critical new tools to fight the pandemic 

Press Release, Contact:
Leticia Linn
Sebastian Oliel
Ashley Baldwin
Daniel Epstein

mediateam@paho.org

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138 illegals add to the over 900 migrants captured by TCI Joint Forces

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FILE PHOTO

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre and partners continue to work together to protect our borders and keep TCI secure.

During the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 2022 the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre identified a target of interest and immediately started to track the vessel around 5 miles North West of Providenciales travelling at around 7 knots.

The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and intercepted a vessel containing irregular migrants. Following a delicate, coordinated operation with the necessary stabilization of the vessel which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and the occupants were without life vests, the RTCIPF Marine Unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants and then the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 4:45am with a total of 138 persons, 98 males and 40 female including 1 juvenile, who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department. One male needed immediate medical attention in relation to a leg injury sustained.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was desperately overcrowded, unsafe and risked the lives of those on board. It continues to demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and Health to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos Islands safe.

In the last couple of months over 900 individuals on 9 dangerous and unseaworthy vessels have been intercepted here in the TCI.

I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call CrimeStoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477, not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

 

Caption: FILE PHOTO

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International joint forces seize $99 Million in Cocaine in Caribbean Sea

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

The US Coast Guard, and ships from the Netherlands made drug busts in the Caribbean Sea over the last few weeks resulting in a cumulative seizure of 5,237 pounds of cocaine.  The Coast Guard says the illegal narcotics which were offloaded at Base Miami Beach last Friday value $99 million.

The drugs were seized in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea by crews from: Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley, His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Friesland, His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Groningen.

Coast Guard Commanding officer of the Thetis, which transferred the drugs to the base in Miami, Justin Nadolny praised the partnership between themselves and the Netherlands which led to the massive seizure.

“Interdicting drug traffickers on the open ocean is challenging work and every interdiction is complex and unique,” he said. “This offload is a testament to the teamwork and devotion of every crew assigned to carry out this mission, and it showcases the strength of the valuable international partnerships united to combat transnational organized crime.  The fight against drug cartels in the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation.”
The Turks and Caicos also have an agreement with the US Coast Guard signed in recent months which allows for tighter partnerships between the two countries (and the Bahamas) in the fight against illegal migration and drug trafficking in the county’s waters.

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Caribbean News

Turks & Caicos Airline becomes first International flight at Ian Fleming in Jamaica

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, June 25, 2022 – As the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica celebrated a new connection on June 16th as Intercaribbean Airways launched their newest flight to Boscobel, St Mary, half an hour from the famous city of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s North Coast.

The Ian Fleming Airport is named for the famous author who penned the James Bond series just miles away from the airport. Never one to miss a theme, InterCaribbean dubbed their flight the JY 007.

The 007 departed Providenciales at 9:30 am Thursday (June 16) with Lyndon Gardiner, Chairman of InterCaribbean Airways; Trevor Sadler, InterCaribbean Airways CEO; Chris and Kayon Stokes of NCS Money Services; Team Beaches TCI, some media namely SunTCI and Magnetic Media as well as a few Jamaicans anxious to get home.

The 007, Ian Fleming Airport’s first international commercial flight, was received in Jamaica with much fanfare.  It was met by a Jamaican delegation including Audley Shaw, Minister of Transport for Jamaica and Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister and a cheerful water cannon spurt to sweeten the arrival of the first international flight at Ian Fleming.

Bartlett was enthusiastic about the prospects that Inter-Caribbean was bringing to Jamaica.

“The presence today of this inaugural flight from a Caribbean island into Boscobel is a bigger statement than what has been made because what it does is to put together the idea of connectivity in a material way. It is how we as a region are going to be able to connect with each other in a way that brings economic value and prosperity to each other and that’s the power of this movement that begins today.”

The minister noted that Tourism was a booming business if only we were aware of how to take charge of it.

“We are about ideas and how to convert ideas into things that have a material value, we are the most consumption-driven activity on planet earth. “ he added “the next critical consideration that has to be looked at …is that we need a single visa regime for touristic purposes that can be provided for visitors coming into your space… a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries.”

Gardiner expressed his excitement for the venture telling the media,“Only the sun covers the Caribbean better than we do.” He also told the gathered press. “We will now have the ability to bring people from across the Caribbean, whether it be for business, pleasure, or furthering multi-destination vacations, by offering Boscobel residents and visitors direct service across the Caribbean and vice versa.”

InterCaribbean Airways will run their flight monthly initially and then upgrade to weekly flights. It would be the third flight between Turks and Caicos and Jamaica; already Kingston and Montego Bay are serviced by the airline based in Providenciales, TCI.

American Airlines and QCAS Aero are also scheduled to begin flights to the Ian Fleming International this year.

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