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Robin + Yellowhammer + Bluebird + Quail + Pelican + Mockingbird = New US Covid Variants could be more infectious

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#USA, February 17, 2021 – Not to be outdone, American Covid-19 has since August 2020 been morphing in order to survive and spread and now seven new variants of itself are created; appearing in at least 30 States and taking on the names of birds for easier distinction.

The Q677P mutation impacts a crucial spike protein of the virus, informed a Forbes.com report by Dr. Robert Glatter. The news article published on Monday February 15 also said due to a lack of peer review, the analysis of the variants is conservative though the suspicion is these new variations will be found to be more contagious.

The advent of another crop of more contagious COVID could spell disaster for our friends and family in the US just as the country is experiencing a downward trend in new cases.  It also has the potential to threaten travel once again; the last string of variants elicited border closures and tougher measures for returning air passengers.

In a string of media reports, the world is learning of the mutations and how broadening genomic surveillance will be the truest gauge of the effect of Robin 1, Robin 2, Yellowhammer, Pelican, Bluebird, Quail and Mockingbird.

From the article: “Robin 1 has now been seen in more than 30 states in the U.S., mostly in the Midwest. Robin 2 appeared in early October from a sample in Alabama, confined mainly to the southeastern U.S. Another lineage, named Pelican, was initially identified in a sample from Oregon, but has later been found in 12 additional U.S states as well as in Europe (Denmark and Switzerland), Australia, as well as in India.

Pelican was the first sub-lineage or variant of particular interest to the researchers because it was found in close to 28% of viral samples from Louisiana, and 11% from New Mexico. The remainder of the Q677P sub-lineages each have less than 100 genetic sequences including Yellowhammer, predominately in the southeastern U.S, Bluebird, in the northeast U.S., Quail found in the southwest and northeast, and Mockingbird, located predominately in southcentral and east coast states.”

Almost five percent of the samples collected at GISAID between August 2020 and February 2021 have been the new variants; a total of 2,327.

One expert, Vaugh Cooper, has offered to CNN that the mutation is particularly worrisome because it is  in the region of the novel coronavirus spike protein which is key for how contagious the virus actually becomes.

Some 27.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid19 and as vaccination roll out lags behind spread of the virus, it becomes a concern with the United States as the leading and in many respects the only source market for the Caribbean region including the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Omicron results in 267,000 case record for USA, eclipsing even Delta

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, December 31, 2021 – The US has broken its record for most daily coronavirus cases with a massive 267,000 cases recorded on Tuesday. The information was courtesy of data prepared by the New York Times about infection rates.

The Omicron variant now accounts for more than half of the cases in the country.

Information the Times released said, “The country is averaging more than 260,000 new cases a day, surpassing the peak levels from last winter. Infection rates are especially high in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. Though breakthrough infections are common with Omicron, scientists say vaccinated people, especially those who have received booster shots, have protection against severe cases and death.”

Despite the steep increase there is a silver lining. The same data that shows the increase also shows that hospitalizations and deaths remain at a steady rate and that rate is much lower than variants like Delta.

Amidst the drastic increase the Centers for Disease Control has slashed its recommendations for quarantine days in half, after which a COVID patient may leave quarantine without testing. There has been much controversy surrounding the issue with accusations of capitalism being slung toward the entity.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the decision saying, “What we do know is about 85 percent to 90 percent of viral transmission happens in those first five days, which is why we really want people to stay home during that period of time.”

She said masks should be worn for five days after quarantine to prevent the final 10 per cent to 15 per cent of possible transmission.

Walensky did not explain the efficiency of a 10 quarantine vs the new five day quarantine or say if this was expected to lead to an uptick in cases.

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Deadly Salad Mix Recall in US; TCI seems unaffected

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#December 24, 2021 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating an outbreak related to packaged salads that have killed about three people, and 22 have been hospitalised due to fears over Listeria infection.

As a result, Fresh Express has recalled salad products from approximately 19 states on Monday.

Recalls were made in Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Indiana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Massachusetts.

The brands recalled are Fresh Express, Bowl & Basket, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh from the Field, and Wellsley Farms Organic.

The CDC advised that anyone who has purchased the recalled items should discard them and properly sanitise their refrigerators to avoid contracting the associated bacteria called listeria.

Listeria may cause headaches, stiff neck, confusion, and fever.

Local grocer, Sunny Foods confirmed that the recall does not impact his store and it may be the same for others in country.

The TCI Government had not replied up to news time to a query about whether the recall affects this market.

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TC Reef Fund gives a Financial & Projects Report

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, the local environmental non-profit, announced a successful fiscal year.  Approximately $114,058 dollars was raised in 2021. The expenses of the organization, however, outweighed the revenues. For the fiscal year, it was about $128,984 dollars.

The largest source of revenue came from donations designated for specific projects. Nearly half of the fiscal year’s revenue came from individual donations and memberships.  Don Stark, Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, said the ongoing success of fund-raising contributed to hiring their first full-time Executive Director in 2021, Mrs. Alizée Zimmermann.

“I have been very happy to become a major part of the TCRF as the Executive Director,” said Alizée Zimmermann. “TCRF has accomplished so much since 2010 and I hope that we will continue to be a leader in environmental advocacy not only in the TCI, but also regionally. We are already considered a regional leader in the battle with SCTLD. I am also happy to say that in 2021 we have expanded our volunteer network to over 100 residents who donate their time to assist TCRF with our various projects.  We could not accomplish the things we do without the support we receive from these generous volunteers.”

Since 2010, when the organization was founded, $1.4 million dollars have been raised without the government’s contribution.  About $924,000, which is, 67 per cent of the money, has been used to support environmental projects in the TCI.

Its largest project, which started in 2012, is installing and maintaining dive and snorkel boat moorings. Stark said the project’s cost is now at 287 thousand dollars.

“That’s $287,000 that TCRF has essentially donated to the TCIG, since once we install a mooring in a marine park, it becomes Government property,” said Stark.

He added that over $43, 000 had been invested in education and outreach programs.

Alizée Zimmermann, Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, said they expanded their volunteer network to over 100 residents.

The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease project, which dominated the expenses, came to almost $37,000. Also, moorings which were over $24,000 accounted for a large part of the project expense.

The third-largest project expense was the Smith’s Reef Rehabilitation and Improvements project. It was about $10,585 dollars for the year.

 

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