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Dr. Nadia Astwood:  October 15 Update from TCI’s Chief Medical Officer



#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – The TCI is currently in a better position in relation to the pandemic than the previous time we met. As it stands, we currently have 53 active cases with 46 in Providenciales and 7 in Grand Turk with 1 hospital admission which Dr Braithwaite Tennant will expound on later.

An additional 10 (revised to 12) new cases will be reflected on today’s dashboard.

Total number of cases of COVID 19 since the onset of the epidemic: 2,910; of these 2,824 Recovered 23 persons have unfortunately passed away.  53 Active; eight individuals have died abroad; one Repatriated ; one died from other cause.  Of the active cases = three reside in GT and 50 reside in Provo.

NEW SURGE IN CASES Since July 7th 2021, we have detected a total of 485 new cases

Description: 235 or 49% are male

AGE GROUP                        CASES

0 – 9 years                           44

10 – 19                                 63

20 – 29                                 83

30 – 39                                 99

40 – 49                                 97

50 – 59                                 69

60 – 69                                 17

70 – 79                                 11

80+                                        2

Total                                      485


Three hundred and fifty-nine (359) of the cases or (74%) are residents.  Initially more tourists or visitors were testing positive, however more recently most new cases are in residents.

We can attribute this change to the roll out of the vaccinated visitors only policy which came into effect on 1st September 2021.

Three-hundred and three (303), (62%) of the cases since 7th July 2021 have been symptomatic.

This time around, we have noted that we have been seeing more symptomatic persons. 110 or (23%) are listed as contacts of other positive cases; 168 or (35%) are linked to international travel.

And 207 (43%) unlinked. The number of unlinked cases speaks to ongoing community spread of COVID19.

Breakthrough Cases

Breakthrough cases, which are defined as cases occurring in persons who have been fully vaccinated- have been documented in 106 persons since the beginning of the vaccination programme.

Of note, this number includes data collected on visitors who would have been vaccinated. Breakthrough infections are expected. Based on available evidence, vaccination may make illness less severe for those who are vaccinated and still get sick.

The risk of infection, hospitalization, and death are all much lower in vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated and so the message from the Ministry of Health remains the same-we encourage all eligible persons to become vaccinated.

Of these cases described earlier, only 2 have been hospitalized and there have been no deaths in vaccinated individuals.

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90% of strokes are avoidable with a few lifestyle changes!



Cleveland Clinic Expert Shares Six Simple Steps to Prevent Vast Majority of Strokes


December 5, 2023 – According to the World Stroke Organization (WSO), stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide. The WSO says one in four people will have a stroke in their lifetimes, and each year over 12 million people worldwide have strokes. However, it adds that 90% of strokes are preventable by addressing a small number of risk factors that are responsible for most strokes. In The Bahamas, on average 224 people (or 9.56%) die annually from strokes. 

Here, Andrew Russman, DO, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center and a vascular neurology specialist, offers advice on how to reduce stroke risk by better managing existing health conditions and also through implementing lifestyle changes. “These tips are interrelated as most of the lifestyle changes mentioned also play a role in improving management of hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, which all increase stroke risk,” Dr. Russman points out.

  1. Reduce hypertension

Uncontrolled hypertension – that is, blood pressure that is consistently above 130/80 – is the single most important modifiable risk factor in stroke worldwide, says Dr. Russman.

Aside from medication, an important step in reducing blood pressure is to reduce salt intake, which Dr. Russman says is good advice even if you don’t have high blood pressure. “We recommend consuming no more than 2g of salt per day. I advise my patients to check food labels and nutritional websites for sodium levels as their intake is usually far higher than they realize,” he adds.

  1. Be wary of diabetes

It is important to be tested for diabetes, and if diagnosed, to manage the condition wells, says Dr. Russman. He explains that diabetes causes narrowing of small, medium and large blood vessels in the body, including vessels of the eyes, kidney, heart and brain. Owing to this, diabetes can contribute to a variety of vascular, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular problems including stroke. In addition, for patients who have survived a stroke, the risk of having a second is three times higher in those patients whose diabetes is not controlled.

Dr. Russman says that as part of their treatment plan, people with diabetes should have their condition monitored through HbA1C tests, which provide a three-month snapshot of their blood sugar control. “We                                      recommend that these individuals aim for an HbA1C result of 7.0 or less. Taking prescribed medication correctly, watching their diet, exercising regularly, and following their healthcare provider’s recommendations                          will help them achieve this.”

  1. Address atrial fibrillation

The WSO says atrial fibrillation is associated with one in four strokes, and Dr. Russman says these strokes tend to be more severe and disabling than strokes associated with other risk factors.

“Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm condition characterized by very rapid heartbeats that don’t allow the top left chamber of the heart – the left atrium – to contract normally. Instead, it fibrillates and flutters so blood                         is not ejected normally from the chamber,” he says. “Anytime blood is stagnant for too long, it can form a blood clot that can travel elsewhere in the body. This clot could cause a stroke by blocking a blood vessel in the brain, depriving that part of the brain of the oxygen and nutrients it needs.”

Dr. Russman says atrial fibrillation is the most common acquired heart rhythm disorder in older adults, and its associated risk is strongly related to age. “The older you are, the more at risk you are of acquiring the condition, but also the higher the risk of stroke associated  with the condition,” he says. “It is estimated that up to half of all patients with a heart rhythm condition are not aware of it. However, once diagnosed, atrial fibrillation can be treated with a blood-thinning medication. These do carry some risks, but the benefits far outweigh these in the vast majority of patients.”

  1. Manage cholesterol levels

In addition to reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol through diet, for example, by avoiding saturated fat, individuals might be prescribed statin medications that reduce future risk of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Russman says these medications, particularly rosuvastatin and atorvastatin, may benefit patients beyond simply reducing cholesterol levels in that they also appear to reduce inflammation and stabilize plaque build-up in blood vessels.

  1. Stop smoking

“Any type of smoking is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and is strongly associated with accelerated hardening of the arteries and narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, heart and   elsewhere,” says Dr. Russman. “We therefore strongly recommend everyone completely stop any form of nicotine ingestion to significantly reduce their long-term risk for a multitude of diseases.”

  1. Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Dr. Russman recommends following an eating plan that is low in saturated fats and sodium, and to avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine consumption. Regular physical activity is also important as it can reduce the risk of stroke directly, but also indirectly as it helps to lower high blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help to reduce stress, as can other activities such as meditation or deep breathing, which is important as stress causes the body to release chemicals that can increase blood pressure, affect hormones and raise blood sugar levels, says Dr. Russman.

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Deaths due to HIV/AIDS down 50 percent as World Aids Day marked Dec 1



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 


December 5, 2023 – Deaths due to HIV/AIDS have been cut dramatically by fifty percent in the past thirteen years and on December 1, which is the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization called on communities to stand up to reduce the risks even further.  The 2023 theme is “Let Communities Lead” as a testament to the notion, shared by the WHO, that “we can end AIDS with communities leading the way.”

In the past five decades, treatment surrounding AIDS has increased exponentially and stigma is decreasing. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 69% since the peak in 2004 and by 51% since 2010. In 2022, around 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 2.0 million people in 2004 and 1.3 million people in 2010.

“Much more than a celebration of the achievements of communities, it is a call to action to enable and support communities in their leadership role,”  the WHO encourages.

The WHO is now focused on spreading awareness about the status of the pandemic and encouraging progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care around the world.

Locally, among the events planned in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the annual Surf and Turf Horse Racing night on Friday 8th December at Opus Wine Bar and Grill, residents are invited for an evening of food, luck, and chances. All proceeds go towards the Turks and Caicos AIDS Awareness Foundation and Edward Gartland Youth Center.

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Communities lauded for dropping dreary HIV/AIDS statistics, still 9.2 million need help



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

December 5, 2023 – Despite progress gained in treatment over the years, HIV remains a major public health issue. This is pointed out by the World Health Organization (WHO) as we marked World AIDS day on Friday December 1, 2023.

On the day, the WHO and its international partners, recognized the resilience, dedication and innovation displayed by community leaders and organizations in the response to the HIV epidemic.

Today’s world has come a long way regarding the diseases, from the time it was first discovered, and WHO in a release expressed the growth in our response to HIV over those years.

“People living with or affected by HIV have left an indelible mark on the world with their activism,” said Dr. Tedros  Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General.

“The affected communities who fought for tools to prevent, test and treat HIV enabled 30 million people to access antiretroviral therapy, and helped to avert an unknowable number of infections,”  he added.

Additionally, today’s daily pill for HIV management has propelled treatment tenfold as those who stay on their medication, have no virus in their blood, with zero risk of transmission.

However, amid all the accomplishments and coming accomplishments regarding HIV, WHO expounds on its current nature as a public health issue, pointing out that across the globe, 9.2 million people do not have access to the treatment they need.

Also, the release mentions that every day about 1,700 people die from HIV-related causes and a massive 3,500 infected daily, many not knowing their status or having access to treatment.

Tedros highlights the dedication to end the disease as a threat saying, “We stand together with communities to help end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” and with the progress made, despite  current setbacks, this is indicative of hope to reach the 2030 goal.

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