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Hundreds of new COVID cases over Christmas for The Bahamas; Minister talks about the enormity of the challenge

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By Dana Malcolm and Bahamas Information Services

 

#TheBahamas, December 31, 2021 – The Bahamas recorded a massive increase in COVID-19 cases over Christmas weekend.  By Wednesday, more than 500 cases were recorded, with 330 of those cases being recorded on Christmas Day alone.

All tests were taken no more than 24 to 48 hours before the results were published.

Bahamian Minister of Health Dr Michael Darville released a statement promising that they would not shut down all economic activity because of the surge but still urged Bahamians to work together to slow transmission.

Minister Darville said: “As your new minister, I have been working closely with health professionals in my Ministry over the past three months; preparing for the possibility of new waves of the virus and to better address some of the challenges we encountered during the difficult COVID-19 third wave. By way of Health Services Rules we have tightened testing at our borders to reduce the importation of new cases; while refusing to give approvals to mass gatherings throughout the country that can easily become super spreader events as the COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

He said “There are no easy answers for dealing with the coming surge in cases and care must be taken to strike the right balance between our country’s health crisis and economic well-being.”

The government also reduced gathering limits to 20 persons indoors and 30 outdoors, and Darville encouraged residents to wear their masks, especially indoors, to keep up with the required protocols.

“One of the most pressing issues we face in healthcare delivery is the shortage of nurses, doctors and support staff. I am pleased to confirm that next week we will bring on board 12 additional doctors. We are also in the final recruitment exercise to add an additional 50 specialty nurses to our healthcare system.  They will provide essential services and we pray that contracts will be finalized early next week.  Our nurses and doctors have gone beyond the call of duty despite outstanding industrial agreements. I have spoken with the Honorable Prime Minister on these outstanding matters and I assure you, negotiations will begin early next year to finalize these outstanding matters and begin the long awaited promotion exercise across the board, at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”

From Bahamas Information Services, other factors in the fight against surging COVID cases were shared.

He continued that another important component in the fight is the sourcing of new COVID-19 drugs. “We recently signed contracts to acquire these drugs including monoclonal antibodies, which have been proven to be effective for rapid recovery from the virus.”

On the acquisition of Grosvenor Close Nursing Building: “We are all aware of the space challenges we experienced during the most recent third wave of COVID-19.  I am happy to report that after negotiations with the University of The Bahamas School of Nursing, my Ministry has temporarily acquired the Grosvenor Close Nursing Building.  A contract will be awarded next week to begin the necessary renovations needed to transform that building into a much needed Infectious Diseases Ward to aid in our fight against COVID-19. At its completion we expect to be able to accommodate an additional 100 COVID-19 patients at that location.

“This additional facility will finally allow us to free up the South Beach Polyclinic.  Bringing this clinic back into service to provide essential, primary healthcare services for that community.”

With respect to testing, Minister Darville reiterated: “As discussed on numerous occasions, one key element in our fight against COVID-19 is the importance of testing. The sooner people know their status, the sooner appropriate action can be taken to isolate, provide necessary care and prevent exponential spread.

“In partnership with private sector labs, my Ministry will begin offering free Rapid Antigen Tests for asymptomatic residents at multiple centers throughout New Providence.  This is part of our ongoing pilot testing program, prior to the launch of the government’s national free testing program.  Once the digital platform is completed that would finally marry testing with contact tracing.”

Affirming the pandemic protocols important to containment of virus spread, Minister Darville reminded: “We know that this omicron variant is more than 70 times more infectious than all other variants and when someone laughs, sings, coughs, sneezes or simply breathes, the droplets they expel can spread to others who are in close proximity.  We also know that some of the droplets can linger in the air or on surfaces. This is why frequent, proper hand washing, maintaining distances of six feet from others, avoiding crowded places, cleaning and disinfecting regularly and wearing a well fitted mask indoors and outdoors around people, is important.

“As it is recommended, regardless of vaccination status, you can double mask or wear a medical grade mask.  Your government will embark upon the distribution of free medical grade masks at vaccination sites starting this week in New Providence.

“We know from the science that persons who have been vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.  Vaccines are safe and effective against the severe effects of the virus.”

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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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Bahamas News

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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