#TurksandCaicos, March 3, 2022 – The original strain of Omicron BA1, is prevalent in the Turks and Caicos, dominating samples recently returned to the country.
“The most recent results of sequencing of samples received by the TCI from Cayman this week, revealed that 22 of the 26 samples which were able to be sequenced were all of the omicron variant of COVID19. This was much as expected based on the trajectory of infections in the TCI since December 2022,” said Dr. Nadia Astwood, Chief Medical Officer, Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Health
Astwood, in her report to the nation on Thursday February 24, while confirming omicron as the dominant variant of COVID in the country also said it is also the version of the virus responsible for the most re-infections.
“There are also other variants in circulation and there are likely new variants which will emerge in future including the BA2 variant of omicron which has been identified in at least 80 countries and 48 states within the USA. Initial data has shown that this variant of omicron is more transmissible than the BA 1 omicron variant, and is still being monitored closely globally as well as by the TCI.”
The newer omicron variant, BA 2 has not been confirmed for Turks and Caicos, but TCI – as has been guided by the World Health Organization – is keeping an eye out for this omicron spawn, she said.
Monkeypox confirmed in St Lucia, everyone exposed is quarantined
By Shanieka Smith
#StLucia, June 30, 2022 – St Lucia has increased surveillance for Monkeypox after a crewmember on a flight to the island has tested positive for the virus.
Officials said the crewmember did not disembark the aircraft when it arrived.
Regardless, the Ministry said in a press release that the significant increase in the number of cases of Monkeypox confirmed globally in recent weeks has pushed St Lucia to strengthen its capacity to manage individuals who are either suspected or confirmed cases.
The protocols set for COVID-19 have been modified to manage Monkeypox.
The stated also said: “As obtained with infectious diseases, the required contact tracing process is currently being undertaken by the contact tracing team within the Ministry of Health. All identified contacts of the case shall be contacted by the Ministry of Health and placed in quarantine and monitored over a 21-day period.”
People exposed to Monkeypox will be placed in quarantine and monitored by the Home Monitoring Team of clinicians. Also, since the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the capacity for testing for the Monkeypox virus, samples will be taken from anyone who shows symptoms in quarantine.
The Victoria Hospital has assigned a ward for the care and management Monkeypox positive individuals.
Another Tragedy for Texas, Truck load of migrants die from the heat after being trapped in a truck
By Dana Malcolm
#Texas, USA, June 30, 2022 – At least 62 people, including children, crossed the US-Mexico border in a truck on Monday, probably hoping for a better life, and while they made it into the country 46 of them died before the truck’s doors could open and five more died at hospital. Local media are describing it as the deadliest human smuggling case in modern US history.
US authorities say it was heatstroke and dehydration, the people were in what was supposed to be a refrigerated truck not unlike the ones used to ferry fresh food to supermarkets, only there was no working air conditioning in the truck and when firefighters arrived on the scene they say there was no sign of water either.
San Antonio Firefighters were called when one person stumbled out of the truck and collapsed by the road. Fire Chief Charles Hood described in a press conference what they found when the doors opened.
“The San Antonio Fire Department responded to a report of a dead person and found the trailer — with a body outside and several that they could visibly see inside once the doors were open. We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there. None of us come to work imagining that.” he lamented.
Temperatures in San Antonio where the truck was discovered were as high as 37 degrees (Celcius). When temperatures reach between 32° and 40° heat cramps and a little heat exhaustion starts to appear, between 40° and 50° heat exhaustion is apparent once the temperature goes past 54° then deadly heat strokes are likely. Temperatures in cars can rise exponentially on hot days, dwarfing the temperatures outside.
A study from Arizona State University found that cars can reach 71° in summer. A surface that hot will give human third degree burns. The study found that cars can hit that mark in under an hour. This usually only refers to parked cars since moving vehicles either have the windows down or the air conditioning on. The truck carrying the migrants had neither.
Miraculously 16 survived initially, four of them being children, unfortunately later the public would learn, five of the survivors passed away at hospital.
“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heatstroke and heat exhaustion, no sign of water either,” said Hood.
The nationalities of several of the dead have been confirmed to be Honduran, Mexican and Guatemalan.
Three people are said to be in custody.
TAP Medical Care Network not ‘subpar’ says Health Minister
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 30, 2022 – Jamell Robinson, TCI Health Minister is urging residents not to be deterred by their perception of the country to which they are sent for medical care through the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP). Robinson explained that the TAP works in a specific way, and the goal is to deliver medical services which improves lives.
A person must be referred for overseas care by a local doctor, private or public. Once they are referred to a facility overseas, a Joint Referral Committee comprising members of the TCI Hospital and the National Health Insurance Board reviews the referral. With the overseas trip confirmed, there is communication within the regional network of doctors and hospitals to see if the case can be accommodated. If it can’t be accommodated in the Caribbean that case then goes outside the region to Columbia, any failure there results in TCI employing the extended network which includes the United States.
“Generally speaking the NHIB provides great flexibility on the location within the primary network.” He said, “So if they select the Dominican Republic and would prefer to go to Jamaica, no big deal they’ll send you to Jamaica.”
Robinson explained that while the TAP was very flexible for contributors who wanted to go to a specific place, he reminded that the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Board would not send patients to subpar institutions anywhere in the world.
“Remember we are not sending you to a country. We’re sending you to a specific facility. Unfortunately, when we get into the ‘choice thing’ that we do accommodate, most times, it isn’t because of the healthcare that is provided at the specific facility. It’s usually because of the view of a person has of that country. If [the hospital] is in the Amazon Rainforest and it has the healthcare you need, if it was a part of the network that’s just the best location.”
Robinson said people in the TCI usually want to use the advanced network especially in the United States but he explained that the process to choose all the hospitals was extremely thorough and NHIP contributors would always get the best care despite the cost.
“With the way facilities are reviewed and graded so to speak within the network you have at least three options for pretty much every particular procedure that can be done within the network. So if it’s heart surgery then a particular institution would be the number one choice. That doesn’t mean other institutions can’t do that same procedure.”
Currently the NHIB covers all costs for international procedures including airfare for the patient; sometimes there is financial support to an accompanying loved one with the patient and funds are made available to cover partial costs of accommodations.
“At no point will anyone not have access to the healthcare that they need and that’s a very important thing to know,” Minister Robinson maintained.
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