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Opposition Leader has advice for TCIG now that Delta variant landed



#TurksandCaicos, August 20, 2021

We should Be Concerned about the Delta Variant

After a year and a half, we are still in the pandemic. It is the survival of the fittest between humans and the coronavirus Variants. We are racing to herd immunity, to get more people vaccinated and to get more effective antiviral medications.

We are seeing people dismiss COVID as a just another common cold, and even worse not wearing masks in public places or social distancing. We are also seeing a lack of compliance to the established COVID-19 protocols. We are seeing most safety protocols being abandoned and persons going back to business as usual pre-COVID. We are seeing persons, some who are vaccinated, travelling to cities with high rates of new COVID-19 cases and returning back home to the Turks and Caicos Islands without knowing their COVID status.

With new cases now emerging daily in the TCI the situation could deteriorate very rapidly. We should not allow the flood gates to be wide open. We as a country cannot ease up our efforts at this time, and should not stop fighting until the virus has been defeated. We have to do whatever it takes to battle this unseen enemy.

Therefore, we should be very concerned about the newer, faster transmitting, Delta Variant (B16172). This Variant seems to be the prevalent strain circulating in the TCI at the moment, and has been seen to be two times more infectious than the original G-Variant. Recent reports from the UK indicate that the Delta Variant is infecting younger people more than the original variant, and that the symptoms are different.

With the original variant infected persons would present with symptoms of high fever, muscle pains, cough, severe chest pain etc., but with the Delta Variant, many infected persons are presenting with symptoms of stuffy or running nose, sneezing, sore throat, and mild headaches. Younger people usually show little or no symptoms, and are less likely to get tested, hence not knowing their COVID status and possible spreading the virus more.

Additionally, scientific data sources are now showing that vaccinated persons with a good immune system may also become infected and show little or mild symptoms, and not get tested, and possibly spread the virus to susceptible individuals.

Viruses have one goal, that is to make more copies of themselves (to multiply), and since they can’t do it on their own, they use us (a host). They infect our body cells and use them to make copies of themselves. They replicate themselves many times, making millions of copies of themselves, but eventually it makes a mistake. The mistake is referred to as a mutation, and it changes the instructions for making the virus. That slightly altered virus is a Variant. Mutations in viruses happen all the time, producing new variants. Most of the time these mutations are insignificant or make the virus weaker, and they naturally disappear. But sometimes a series of mutations makes the virus stronger, and gives it an edge over its host. These advantages include giving the viruses the ability to bind to the human cells better, and the ability to enter the cells easier, making the virus more transmissible, allowing it to become the dominant strain in many places around the world.

It is important to remember that mutations are random errors, but the longer a virus is around, and the more people it infects, the more it will change, and the more those changes accumulate, the more chance the virus has to evolve into a more dangerous variant.

The Delta Variant which is the most recent addition to this list of dangerous Variants, is described as a “Double Mutant”, whose mutations seems to make it more transmissible, as it binds to the cell receptors better than other variants, thus blocking those other variants from binding. Its mutations also made it more easy to infect people who have had COVID-19. This means this Variant has a greater change to evade our body’s natural immune response.

Scientific Data has shown that the immune response we get from vaccines are stronger than what we get from a natural response to the virus. Therefore, we would see some persons who previously contracted COVID-19 becoming re-infected, and there would be persons who have taken the vaccine becoming infected with COVID-19 (breakthrough cases). But the difference being seen is that the effect on vaccinated individuals is less severe with possibly no symptoms and are less likely to be admitted to the hospital.

The virus has evolved, and will continue to produce variants, some which may give it an advantage. So if we want to prevent the possibility of a deadlier, and more transmissible strain from developing, we need to stop the Virus.

The Pandemic is not over, even if it feels that way to some of us. The virus has mutated to become more transmissible. Now is not the time for the Turks and Caicos, nor the rest of the world to let its guard down.

The Delta Variant is now presenting as the prevalent variant in a number of countries, and certainly it is now present in the Turks & Caicos. The more we test the more we pick up on silent cases in our communities.

We are now better equipped to respond to the pandemic, and our ability to test is now so much better. Our hospital capacity is now much better to deal with COVID patients, including the availability of oxygen generation.

The New PNP Government must now do its part and insure that our Health Care System stays adequately staffed with the necessary health professionals to care for our hospitalized individuals, and that the right complement of health workers is employed to respond to Outbreaks and Pandemics, that is, having trained staff to perform Surveillance and Monitoring activities, Compliance activities, Testing and research, quarantining, vaccinating, community work, and School Health.

Additionally, the new PNP Government needs to make the tough, and sometimes unpopular decision to ensure that the right policies and guidelines are put in place for the mitigation of further spread of Variants, and for protecting our country and our people.

We should never just focus on what we are seeing today, but must always try to keep a few steps ahead of the virus, by looking at what future advances and abilities are needed. The Government should be looking at what are the technologies and enhancements we could make based on the lessons we have learned, and making the containment, monitoring, and reduction in spread of COVID Variant, and other new viruses much better the next time around.


Hon. Edwin A. Astwood

Leader of the Opposition





Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer



March 27, 2023 – With total cases past 90 thousand in this outbreak Mpox is still a public health emergency of international concern according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).  The organisation has elected not to remove the designation from the disease which spread across the globe late 2022 in an unprecedented outbreak.

Despite acknowledging that most of the over 110 affected countries had cured their outbreaks and brought cases under control Technical lead for Mpox, formerly Monkey Pox, and the WHO Rosamund Lewis said there were still areas of concern mainly the Americas.

Over thirty countries are still reporting cases with the bulk coming from Central and Latin America and a few still occurring in Europe and Africa.  Once again the WHO is warning men who have sex with men to take precautions against the disease as they are most at risk.

Regardless Lewis says everyone should remain cautious especially in the coming spring and summer seasons where activities, outdoor concerts and more may increase, increasing risk. 

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Bahamas News

7 million lives at risk because of salt 



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 



March 24, 2023 – Without immediate and widespread efforts at curbing salt intake, 7 million lives will be lost by 2030 according to the World Health Organization.  The warning follows the first-ever Global Report on Sodium Intake Reduction, which revealed that the world would not meet its sodium intake reduction target of 30 percent by 2025 on its current path.

With only 5% of WHO Member States protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies, the rest of the world must immediately implement ‘highly cost-effective sodium reduction policies to protect against some of the most common non-communicable diseases.

No Caribbean country was mentioned in the group of nine countries with comprehensive salt laws, but Barbados is currently set to make effective stringent regulations to govern food consumption and food quality. 

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General said: 

“Most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. The WHO calls on all countries to implement the ‘Best Buys’ for sodium reduction, and on manufacturers to implement the WHO benchmarks for sodium content in food.” 

North America and the Caribbean have the highest child diabetes statistics in the world, with the second highest prevalence in adults as well. In Turks and Caicos in particular, over 300 hundred residents have failing kidneys, a number described as ‘alarming’ by experts. Kidney disease is fueled in most cases by diabetes and hypertension. 

The WHO is then advising Governments to do four things:

  • Reformulating foods to contain less salt, and setting targets for the amount of sodium in foods and meals. 
  • Establishing public food procurement policies to limit salt or sodium-rich foods in public institutions such as hospitals, schools, workplaces, and nursing homes.
  • Front-of-package labelling that helps consumers select products lower in sodium.
  • Behaviour change communication and mass media campaigns to reduce salt/sodium consumption.

With these measures in place, the salt reduction target can still be achieved, according to the WHO. 

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ChikV is back!  The Americas see sharp increase and nearly 100 deaths



By Rashaed Esson with Deandrea Hamilton

Editorial Staff



March 23, 2023 – The region is once again facing off with a public health risk and while not new,  the return, prevalence and lethal impact of the virus is wreaking new and heartbreaking havoc; it has also caused the Pan American Health Organization to issue warnings to Member countries urging them to prepare and reinforce their responses to Chikunguna; transmitted by mosquito and responsible for nearly 100 deaths last year.

According to PAHO, the Americas saw an increase in deaths and cases from ChikV in 2022. In fact, PAHO charted 273,685 cases and 87 deaths in 2022; 14 countries and territories in the Americans were reporting.

“This figure is higher than that observed in the same period of 2021 (137,025 cases, including 12 deaths),” according to PAHO/WHO.

In addition, the occurrence of the diseases has gone beyond the historical areas of transmission reported since 2014, which leaked into the first few weeks of 2023.

Paraguay and Brazil were identified in the March 8 report.  The pair of South/Central American countries carry the highest incidence rates of 1,128 cases per 100,000 population.  For Paraguay and 14.2 cases per 100,000 population and for Brazil or 115,539 cases and 33 deaths were reported in the first epidemiological week (EW) of 2023.

For Paraguay, between December and February, a total of 34,659 cases were categorised as probable and confirmed, including 2,910 hospitalizations and 34 deaths.

It is unimaginable that after pushing down the instance and detrimental impacts of ChikV that any nation would count 34 people dead as a result of the mosquito borne virus.  While control of the virus is relatively good, progress on life-saving, preventative medical intervention is stagnant.

“While there are several vaccines currently in different stages of development (as of Dec 2022) they are yet to be licensed. There is no commercial vaccine available to protect against chikungunya virus infection,” informs the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, the virus spread chiefly by the Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes is giving no indication of slowing down in the two nations cited as concerning by PAHO.

“Of total of cases reported (in Paraguay) during this period, 93% of cases (32,258/34,659) and 97% (33/34) of deaths were reported between EW 1 and 8 in 2023,” according to PAHO/WHO.

For Brazil, in 2023, between January and February, there were 35,566 probable and confirmed cases; a 109.6 percent relative increase compared to the same period in 2022. One death is confirmed as due to ChikV; 13 others are still under investigation.

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