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Controlling Transmission of COVID-19 Requires a Combination of Strategies, says Bahamas Health Minister

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#NASSAU, The Bahamas — November 11, 2020 – Minister of Health the Hon. Renward Wells explained that controlling the transmission of COVID-19 requires a combination of strategies and one part of that strategy is testing.

“The Ministry of Health’s testing protocol is expanding. Although the RT PCR test remains the gold standard in-country to diagnose COVID-19, selected Rapid Antigen Tests are now being incorporated in our protocol to detect an acute infection of COVID-19 in patients who are experiencing symptoms,” Minister Wells said during the COVID-19 Update press conference at the Ministry of Health, Friday, November 6, 2020.

Renward Wells, Bahamas Minister of Health (file)

He stated that despite being less sensitive than the RT-PCR test, rapid antigen testing is relatively inexpensive and provides rapid results. This type of testing has the potential to provide wider access to COVID-19 testing at an acceptable turnaround time when there is limited access to RT-PCR testing.

The Minister noted that currently, there are two antigen tests that have been granted World Health Organization Emergency Use Authorization –

  • the SD Biosensor; and
  • the Abbott PanBIO rapid antigen tests.

“Both these tests have been independently validated and found to have high sensitivity and specificity in symptomatic persons.

“The only drawback is that there are currently no published studies of rapid antigen test performance in asymptomatic populations.”

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He said, “The Ministry of Health wishes to advise that any antigen test used in The Bahamas must meet 4 criteria as outlined in the National Protocol. The test should –

  • be administered by trained healthcare providers; undergo local validation before use;
  • be performed with continuous quality assurance and applicable biosafety precautions; and
  • be performed by a facility that has been certified by the Health Care Facilities Board.”

Minister Wells stated to make a COVID-19 test available to a wider cross-section of Bahamians, the Ministry continues to explore other testing strategies.

He explained that the Saliva Test for COVID-19 is an alternative to the current nasal swabbing protocol. The Saliva test is an easy alternative to test symptomatic and asymptomatic persons by RT-PCR.

“This test is a streamlined version of the RT-PCR test. This is because it is –

  • cheaper than the currently used swab-based RT-PCR test;
  • it does not involve swabbing the nose or throat of people; or
  • it does not require viral extraction in the lab.

The Minister said the saliva samples are easily obtained and stored at refrigerator temperature for one week. A swab can only be preserved for three days. This method offers benefits to the Family Islands for easy storage and transport.

Samaritan’s Purse sets up Covid-19 tent hospital at PMH in Nassau, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis toured the site soon after it was erected in October, 2020. BIS Photo

He noted that recently, the National COVID-19 Ethics Committee approved the SalivaDirect test to undergo an evaluation, by being piloted within New Providence and selected Family Islands. The study will be targeting asymptomatic persons.

“In this pilot evaluation exercise, consenting participants will be swabbed as normal, and a saliva sample will be obtained at the same time. This way we can compare the results and measure the accuracy of the saliva-based method against the swab method.

“This pilot is anticipated to proceed during November. The National Reference Laboratory will present its findings and recommendations as it relates to the performance of and potential future use of the SalivaDirect Test.”

Minister Wells said, “We hope to be able to utilize the Saliva test to enhance access to testing in the community as well as introduce greater cost efficiencies into the national testing policy in The Bahamas.”

BIS News By Llonella Gilbert

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

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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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TCI & Bahamas and over 20 other countries put at higher risk by CDC, Residents say DIVERSIFY

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#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – ‘We need to diversify!’ is the main call from residents of the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas after the recent bumping of their countries to a level 4 in the US, Centres for Disease Control’s Travel Health Notice index. The Turks and Caicos Islands along with the Bahamas, Cayman, Bonaire, Curaçao Trinidad and Tobago and 16 other countries were officially added to the CDC’s level 4 list on Tuesday.

Jamaica was also moved up to level three.

Level 4 is the highest level of risk according to the CDC and non-essential travel, including vacations, to countries listed as such is not advised by the organization.

Despite a record breaking year for arrivals, one TCI resident said, “Maybe now the PNP will put something credible into place to go with their words about diversifying the economy.”

A Bahamian resident added his views from Grand Bahama.

“Tourism is running the whole country, which is ridiculous because every time something goes down in the rest of the world tourism is the first thing that drops off.  With Covid you think they would have learned a lesson, no, they’re still using Tourism as a base for everything.”

This is a blow for all the Caribbean countries listed, who are still trying to rebound from 2020’s economic shocks due to the freeze on travel and tourism when the Coronavirus Pandemic first started.

It is especially difficult for the Turks and Caicos which mandates that travelers must have travel insurance to vacation on the islands as level 4 ratings makes that security more difficult to procure.

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Back to the Bush, Traditional Remedies make a Come-back

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

VERVINE

You may know it as the Wild Hyssop; American blue verbena, mosquito plant, holy herb or simpler’s joy. You may even know it because of its rich purple colour or its tiny and delicate leaves and five-petaled blossoms. But what you really need to know is that Vervain has several healing properties; it is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, and analgesic (pain-relieving).

Among its purported benefits, vervain is used to treat headaches, other aches and pain, insomnia, digestive dysfunction, depression and anxiety, and upper respiratory tract infections.

This means it’s perfect for the time we live in now as the coronavirus infamously attacks respiratory systems.

 

NEEM

Neem – the tree for solving global problems grows “almost anywhere” in the lowland tropics.

So, if you don’t already have the broad-leaved evergreens in your backyard, it’s not too late to start growing it.

Every part of the Neem tree is beneficial: the bark, leaves, seed, fruit, and twigs. It has over 130 biologically active compounds that can keep viral and bacterial diseases at bay. It is also a powerful immune stimulant.

Yes, it is bitter and has a garlic, nutty aroma but that is a sign that it is good for your body but not so good if you are trying to become pregnant, according to experts on the plant.

Neem is “A” class, which means it is antiviral (inhibits the growth of viruses), antifungal (inhibits the growth of fungi), antibacterial (destroys the growth of bacteria), analgesic (provides pain relief), anti-inflammatory (reduces certain signs of inflammation, swelling or tenderness), antimicrobial (destroys the growth of microorganisms) and it is age-defying.

 

MORINGA

As everyone is in survival mode, Moringa, the survival food, which contains all the nutritional elements may be just what you need.

moringa leaf and powder capsule on a wooden background

Moringa has protein, calcium, eight of the nine essential amino acids, iron, Vitamin C and A minerals and more. The best part is that all parts of the Moringa plant have their unique health properties and you have different ways to use the plant.

Moringa leaves can be dried and grounded in powder form or as supplements. You can also use it to make an essential oil as well as a delicious drink from fresh leaves.

To improve both health, cure digestive disorders, protect your heart and cardiovascular system, reduce blood sugar levels, boost energy levels and immunity, try Moringa.

 

CERASEE

“Go home Elena, go home Elena, go boil Cerasee fi yuh belly” – This Caribbean folk song was loved more than the plant itself. But if your grandmother could not convince you enough, COVID-19 is here to remind you that your body needs to remain healthy and Cerasee can add to your body that renewed look and feel. The fruit, leaves, and seeds of the bitter melon plant have medicinal properties and are used as traditional medicine in many parts of the world. The herb is a natural detoxifier, containing vitamins A and C, as well as phosphorus and iron.

It is mostly used to make a hot beverage to calm symptoms of hypertension, diabetes, liver problems, fever, and constipation.

 

LEAF OF LIFE

Miracles still happen and if you do not believe, have a nice warm tea or a cool blended drink made from the Leaf of Life. You can also enjoy the raw plant. The tall, erect, succulent perennial herb is native to Madagascar and has become naturalised in tropical and subtropical areas.

It is used as a herbal remedy to treat respiratory conditions like asthma, colds, coughs, shortness of breath and bronchitis. The Life plant has several health and beauty benefits and the good news is, you can even have it as a houseplant.

 

ALOE VERA

Aloe for the hair, aloe for the skin, and aloe is also for the immune system.

The Aloe Vera plant is packed full of immune-boosting polysaccharides, just what you need now to strengthen your body and build resistance against harmful bacteria and viruses. Along with being used in cosmetics, the thick, short-stemmed plant has antioxidant and antibacterial properties that help to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans.

It also enhances insulin sensitivity and helps improve blood sugar management, so if you are diabetic, it is good to add Aloe Vera to your medicinal list.

 

PAPAYA

A single papaya contains more than 200% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, another booster for your immune system.

Papaya trees are almost everywhere on the island, so you have no excuses. Moreover, the nutrition filled fruit is not only a healthy choice, it’s a tasty one too.

Add papaya to your fruit salad, scoop the raw fruit with a spoon, blend the seeds into a creamy salad dressing and don’t forget to add the green fruit to your meat pot.

As you enjoy the juiciness and freshness of the fruit, it will help your body to reduce stress, prevent cholesterol build-up, arthritis, and ageing.  The leaves are also proven to be helpful in preventing cancer.

Papaya is also one of nature’s natural contraceptives, they say.

 

LEMONGRASS

This tall grass-like herb has a fresh, clean, lemony scent.

Lemongrass or Fever grass is commonly taken orally, applied directly to the skin, or inhaled as aromatherapy.

It contains substances that can relieve pain and swelling, reduce fever, improve levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood, stimulate the uterus and menstrual flow, and it has antioxidant properties.

A hot cup of lemongrass tea every morning can significantly improve your health.

Also, the leaves and the oil are used to make medicine. So what better way to enjoy the benefits of this herb than to grab it fresh from your backyard and enjoy the pure scent and the soothing taste?

 

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