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CARPHA Implements Whole Genome Sequencing for Member States to Identify COVID-19 Variants

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#TheCaribbean, November 5, 2021 – Whole genome sequencing (WGS) testing to detect COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) variants will be underway at the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) from Monday 15th November 2021.  The process will allow CMML to monitor COVID-19 and track specific mutations of COVID-19 that have been circulating in CARPHA Member States.

This new service will provide a turnaround time of 14 days after receipt of samples by CMML from Member States.

Each virus has its own genomic sequence, characterized by a unique “fingerprint”. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) is the most comprehensive method for genetic disease testing and can detect nearly all types of disease-causing genetic variants.

“The whole genome sequencing process will allow the CMML to detect changes that may occur in the COVID-19 virus fingerprint over time and accelerate the delivery of results to Member States.  A better understanding of the virus’s genetic makeup could save lives by informing public health and clinical management, as well as support the development of medicines and vaccines to combat the virus,” stated Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA.

As a virus evolves, random changes or mutations occur. These changes can lead to the emergence of a new virus lineage, which is quite common. The genomic sequences of these new lineages will differ and are referred to as variations. Although many variants have little effect on the virus’s ability to propagate or cause disease, some changes can increase transmissibility, or allow the virus to evade natural or vaccine-induced immunity.

As the regional reference laboratory, the CMML continues to conduct tests for suspected COVID-19 cases and provide timely reporting of laboratory results to its Member States. The CMML boasts a turnaround time of 48 hours for PCR test results for Member States.

Dr. St. John the Executive Director stated “CARPHA is pleased and very grateful that our International Development Partner the World Bank supported the expansion of the suite of services that we can offer our Member States in bolstering their fight against COVID-19.”

From December 2020 until present, CARPHA and the University of the West Indies (UWI) embarked on a joint project to determine the different lineages of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that circulate in the Caribbean. UWI will continue testing samples, and further communication with our Member States will determine how many samples they can accommodate.

The CMML has plans to expand the scope of its gene sequencing services to include laboratory surveillance of other types of viruses and diseases of public health concern.

CARPHA also announced its new service during the virtual 35th Caribbean Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Managers’ Meeting which took place from 3 – 5 November 2021. The meeting was hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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Bahamas News

Bahamas Government and Grand Bahamas Port Authority in squabble over millions allegedly owed

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas#DavisAdministration#PortAuthority, April 9, 2024– The Bahamas Government according to reports, says the Grand Bahama Port Authority owes 357 million dollars in back payments over the last five fiscal years, 2018 to 2022, and in a letter sent to the Port Authority last week by the Davis Administration, the government is giving them 30 days to pay up. However, the Port Authority clapped back in a statement, denying the government’s claim saying that they do not owe the sum of 357 million dollars

 

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Bahamas News

$36 Million Dollar Upgrade for World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Bahamas

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

 

After years of thorough maintenance, The Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in The Bahamas is finally getting a multi-million dollar makeover, readying the 10 year old facility ahead of the World Athletics Relays on May  5, 2024; it is being staged in Nassau for the fourth time. 

 

This $36 million refurbishment is being funded by the Chinese Government, as part of a vision to enhance the country’s sport infrastructure to benefit youths in athletics. The stadium was gifted to The Bahamas in 2012 by the Chinese.

 

The relay is the qualifying event for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and there will be 32 national teams, in each relay event, and 20 races on both days of competition, according to World Athletics. 

Day 1, will have 20 heats across the five olympic events (4 heats each for 4×100, 4×400, men, women and mixed) and will qualify 40 teams for the Summer Olympics.  The top two teams from each heat will directly qualify for the Games.

On day 2, 30 more national teams will be qualified through 15 repechage heats and five finals, across those five events.

 

The upgrades which include new trusses, rooftops, seats, the lawn, score boards, LED displays and more, are expected to be complete at least two weeks before the relays, being held under the theme: ‘Chase the  Sun’. 

 

In a special ceremony on Monday April 8, The Bahamas Prime Minister, Philip Davis said:

 

In December 2023, our shared vision took shape, as the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and the government of the People’s Republic of China, inked an implementation agreement for the renovation of the stadium. This gesture of goodwill and friendship, from the Chinese government to undertake the China Aid Maintenance and Renovation project of our national stadium, stands as a testament to the strong bonds that unite our countries. This project, executed by China Urban Construction Research Institute Company Limited, and the China Machinery Industry Construction Group Company Limited, reflects our shared commitment to excellence, innovation and mutual development.”

 

Additionally, H.E Dai Qingli, outgoing Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas who also attended that ceremony, spoke. 

 

“At the end of the project, the Bahamian people will get a fully renewed and modern world class stadium because everything is going to be either renewed or repaired,” she said.

Some 1600 athletes will be in The Bahamas for the World Athletics relays, with five events.  The Bahamas won the bid over Lausanne, Rome in 2022.

 

 Mario Bowleg,  Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture in reports, thanked China for their contribution to the redevelopment of the stadium. 

 

“We thank them for their commitment to ensuring that they bring this facility back up to A1 standard so that we can continue holding international events and using these facilities as a development of our young people.”

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Grand Bahama Airport Demolition

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BIS Photo: Lisa Davis

Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

TheBahamas#TheGrandBahamaAirportDemolition, April 10, 2024 – The demolition of the Grand Bahama International Airport has begun, to start transformative construction as previously announced by Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Aviation and Investments, Chester Cooper, last month. Cooper says a new state of the art facility will be created to redefine Grand Bahama’s access to global opportunities and meet international standards.

 

 

 

 

 

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