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Omicron may be spreading, Delta could be Hospitalising and Killing

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Local Doctor says Testing and Knowing which COVID Variant are Critical

 

By Dana Malcolm & Deandrea Hamilton

Magnetic Media

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – “Everyone should be tested and no one should assume that only the more “mild” Omicron variant of the Coronavirus is running wild in the Turks and Caicos”, said Dr. Darren Hall, president of the Turks and Caicos Medical Association and owner of FamilyCare Medical.

Dr. Hall, in an interview with Magnetic Media said testing should be ramped up and knowing the variant of Covid-19 with which the Turks and Caicos is dealing could be life-saving.

With no information on what variant is affecting who, Hall while says testing everyone is critical, he described the testing and reporting regime currently in place as cumbersome saying,

“I think testing could be improved. We have this back and forth with people going to testing at different locations and then going back to the Ministry of Health…people are queuing up at different locations. How much of that is contributing to the problem?”

He noted that over the last few weeks at least half of the positive cases he has seen were asymptomatic and a fairly large number of positive cases were vaccinated.

The Turks and Caicos has seen a major surge in Covid-19 infections over the past few weeks. The National Public Health Lab has caught more than 1,628 new infections from December to now and with hundreds of samples returned from overseas clinics, Health officials have warned that that number will grow.

Six people have died as a result of Covid-19 complications between December 1 to January 14 and hospitalisations peaked at six, which reflected a 600 per cent increase in COVID related admissions.

Turks and Caicos also recorded its first and second deaths to the coronavirus of vaccinated individuals during the month of January, with Salt Cay reporting Covid-19 infections for the first time since the pandemic started.

Dr. Hall said while there was likely a sufficient amount of testing kits to serve the population human labor was the issue. Hall said the private sector was overwhelmed with their duties to non-Covid patients as well as vaccination and testing and would likely not be able to assist with more robust levels community testing.

“To specifically concentrate on community surveillance is a bit of a challenge at this time.”

At least four prominent variants of Sars CoV-2 or the Coronavirus have been picked up in Turks and Caicos, among them the UK Strain (Alpha Variant); the Brazilian strain; the Mu virus and world’s deadliest, Delta Virus.

Hall warned “I don’t think we can categorically say there is no more Delta. Persons have to be cognizant of that so you’re positive. But positive for what? We have to bear in mind what results a spread could have On the unprotected.”

Hall maintained that the country needs to come up with a solution that controls COVID through vigilance or monitoring. He said “It’s out there.  It’s just whether or not we’re ready for it.”

 

 

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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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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Health

New Healthy Sail rules to ensure transparency and safety kick in, but not all Cruise Lines are on board

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

January 20, 2022 – The US Centers for Disease Control Cruise Sailing Order expired on Saturday January 15th and it means cruise lines will now be able to choose whether or not they want to participate. This “Healthy Sail” program is a set of guidelines for cruising which the CDC says will provide transparency about COVID management on ships.

Cruise lines which chose to participate in the “healthy sail” voluntary program will be subject to CDC guidelines. Cruise lines which opt out of the program will still have to adhere to masking mandates and report all COVID cases.

However, the ships opting out of the CDC Healthy Sail program, will not be required to make public their testing regimes for crew and passengers.

“There will be a lot of unknowns about what risk mitigation measures are being used on board because they will really be able to set their own protocols for testing of passengers and crew,” said Aimee Treffiletti, CDC representative to USA Today.

Naturally, this raises several questions about whether these ships will be required to make onboard protocols and findings public to ports of call.

Up to Monday, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines had opted into the program. Noticeably absent from the roll call: Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.

 

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