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Steep spike in COVID in China, two years since Pandemic announced by WHO

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#China, March 12, 2022 – One hundred neighbourhoods in Shanghai, China have been labelled medium to high risk as a result of a fresh wave of COVID.  The National Health Commission reported to media that on Thursday, 1,100 new cases of the virus had been detected; it has led to the city of Changchun, in northeastern China to lockdown.

After Friday, the new infections surged to 1,500 in a country which has not seen these kinds of numbers in two years.  The figures have rattled China and its zero-Covid strategies are dashed.

The grim news came two years to the day, the World Health Organization announced that we were in a Pandemic, caused by the then newly discovered, deadly, debilitating, highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 or Coronavirus; the virus we now call Covid-19.

In Shanghai, it is said that schools have been shut, so have restaurants, theatres and other public spots in the down town area.

While the Chinese government has advised that the provinces be selective in how to manage the contagion, Changchun is taking no chances and has locked down the city, which is home to 9 million people.

Media reports inform that most of those found with Covid-19 were non symptomatic.  The large majority, said Health Officials, are vaccinated and have contracted the Omicron strain of the virus.

Delta has also been detected in many of those cases.

What has triggered this extreme measure is the sharp, sudden spike from 60 cases two weeks ago, to just over 100 cases a week ago to now, 1,100 new infections in one day. There is a high testing rate, says the National Health Commission, these results are from 17 to 30 of China’s provinces.

China reports that 87 per cent of its people are vaccinated for COVID; 40 per cent are boosted.

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Health

Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected

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World Food Safety Day 2024

 

Foodborne diseases (FBDs) remain a public health concern in the Caribbean and across the world, with one in 10 people worldwide falling ill from contaminated food each year[1]. Increasing numbers of FBD cases and outbreaks have been reported across CARPHA Members States (CMS), especially in the tourism and cruise ship industry.  FBDs can cause morbidity, mortality, and economic burden of countries; it can also pose significant economic, social, and reputational impact on trade and tourism.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) to commemorate World Food Safety Day on June 7th.  The theme for 2024 “Food safety: prepare for the unexpected” reiterates that food safety is a collective responsibility, and everyone needs to play their part.  

 At all levels, we must be prepared to intervene if food safety is compromised, such as:

  • Governments can update national food safety emergency response plans, strengthen national food control systems, increase surveillance and coordination capacities, and improve communication.
  • Food businesses can improve food safety management plans, collaborate, and share lessons learnt and improve communication with consumers.
  • Consumers can ensure they know how to report or respond to a food safety incident.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at CARPHA stated that “Food safety is crucial for supporting economic productivity in the tourism dependent, vastly culinary diverse Caribbean region.   CARPHA is contributing to regional food security through improving food borne diseases surveillance and food safety in its 26 Member States.”

In a 2021 WHO study, the incidence of FBD was 1 in 11 during the mass gathering events, such as cricket matches, carnival, food festivals, etc.[2] With this in mind and as the Caribbean is hosting the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup (May/June 2024), CARPHA continues to be proactive and lead the regional public health response.  The Agency has collaborated with both health and tourism stakeholders of the six Caribbean Cricket World Cup (CWC) host nations (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago) to strengthen surveillance, early warning and response, laboratory, health, prevention and control and food safety capacity in preparation for CWC and other mass gathering events.

During this preparatory phase from February to May 2024, almost 900 food vendors likely to be selling food at the cricket stadiums/and its environs, were trained in Food Safety for Food Handlers for Mass Gathering Events. Additionally, a Mass Gathering Surveillance System was developed and implemented to capture the six internationally recognised potential syndromes, which includes gastroenteritis.

To adequately address FBD and food safety in the Caribbean, CARPHA is implementing an integrated foodborne diseases program, integrating the epidemiological, laboratory, environmental and veterinary aspects of FBD surveillance and response, into a coordinated programmatic approach, regionally and nationally. Its components of surveillance, training, capacity building, outbreak investigation, research, preparation and control, are addressing FBD in a wholistic manner to promote food safety in the Region. CARPHA has also trained and certified over 500 persons in nine of its Member States in advanced food safety and has developed a suite of hospitality, health, food safety and environmental standards, to provide a basis for the development of an effective food safety program for the hospitality industry.

CARPHA remains committed to working with partners and Member States to strengthen regional food safety through multi-sectoral collaboration, capacity building activities, exchange of information and communication.

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Health

Ministry of Health and Human Services recognises International Men’s Health Week 2024, coincides with Blood Donor Day

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#TurksandCaicos, June 8, 2024 – As International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) 2024 approaches, communities and organisations around the world are preparing to raise awareness about the unique health challenges men face and promote proactive approaches to maintaining and improving men’s health. This annual event, taking place from 10 June to 16 June, aims to encourage men and boys to prioritise their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The theme for IMHW 2024 is “Stronger Together”, emphasising the importance of community, support networks, and collective action in enhancing men’s health outcomes. By fostering connections and encouraging open conversations about health issues, we can create a supportive environment where men feel empowered to seek help and make healthier choices.

Key Areas of Focus Include:

  1. Mental Health:Addressing the stigma around mental health and encouraging men to seek support for issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
  2. 2. Physical Health:Promoting regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine medical check-ups to prevent and manage conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  3. Preventive Care:Highlighting the importance of early detection and prevention strategies, including screenings and vaccinations.
  4. Healthy Relationships:Encouraging men to build and maintain healthy relationships is crucial for emotional and psychological well-being.
  5. Work-Life Balance:Advocating for policies and practices that support work-life balance and reduce stress and burnout.

Events and Activities:

Throughout the month, the Ministry of Health and Human will be hosting a series of activities.

  1. June 14: Smart Parking lot, Providenciales- ‘Check your Numbers, know your Status’– this campaign encourages individuals to routinely check key health metrics such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels to monitor their risk for chronic conditions.  The campaign aims to empower individuals to take proactive steps toward early detection and prevention of serious health issues.
  2. June 15: Governor’s Beach Grand Turk- ‘Men in the Galley’ – an engaging event where men showcase their culinary skills by preparing healthy and creative dishes. Aimed at promoting better nutritional habits, the competition highlights the importance of cooking at home and the role of diet in maintaining overall well-being. This activity includes physical fitness challenges and health status checks.
  3. June 17: Health Matters Radio Program– RTC Monday 10 am: Colon Cancer in Men.
  4. June 24: Health Matters Radio Program– RTC Monday 10 am: Kidney Disease in Men.

The Minister of Health and Human Services, Honorable Shaun D. Malcolm, commented, “International Men’s Health Week is a crucial time for us to come together and address the specific health needs of men. By working together, we can create a healthier future for men and boys everywhere. Men’s health is not just a personal issue; it’s a community issue. When men are healthy, families and communities thrive. Encourage the men in your life to prioritise their health and seek help when needed.”

For additional information please visit the Ministry of Health and Human Services Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tciministryofhealth/.

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Health

No new cases of Measles, TCI Ministry of Health and Human Services Updates

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#TurksandCaicos, May 31, 2024 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services is continuing to respond to the two confirmed cases of measles that were identified on 9th May 2024. Both cases have recovered and no further confirmed cases have been identified to date.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services, in response to these cases, has heightened its surveillance for fever and rash cases through the implementation of daily reporting through the various sentinel sites, which include clinics in both the public and private sector inclusive of the hospital to facilitate early identification of any suspected cases to ensure prompt interventions are implanted by the public health team inclusive of isolation, testing and contact tracing.

Any further suspected cases will be tested with samples being shipped to the regional reference laboratory at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Any new cases will be reported to the general public.

Activities are being undertaken to mitigate against further cases of measles including public education through various forms of media, including PSAs, dissemination of information to health care providers,  collaboration with regional and international partners, including the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and CARPHA, as well as other stakeholders.

As part of the response, the Ministry of Health, through the Primary Health Care Department, is conducting a mop-up exercise to identify vulnerable persons, particularly children, who are unvaccinated with the MMR vaccine or who are unsure of their immunisation status.

Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads easily between people. Symptoms typically start between 10 and 12 days after catching the infection. The signs and symptoms of measles are:

  • A high fever
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Cough
  • Red, sore, watery eyes

Small greyish-white spots with a bluish-white center inside the mouth, cheek, and throat may appear a few days later. A rash usually appears 2-4 days after the cold-like symptoms start. The rash starts on the face and behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body.

Measles is spread through close contact with someone with measles. This could be through droplets in the air which are generated by the coughs and sneezes of infected persons or by touching things that someone with measles has coughed or sneezed on.

Measles spreads easily within households and in other places where people mix closely together. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. The period when a person is infectious and can spread the virus is within 7 to 10 days of exposure but can be up to 14 days.

Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease and serious complications are more common in children under the age of 5, or adults over the age of 30 and individuals whose immune systems have been weakened. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Women infected while pregnant are also at risk of severe complications, and the pregnancy may end in miscarriage or preterm delivery. People who recover from measles are immune for the rest of their lives.

Any non-immune person (who has not been vaccinated or was vaccinated but did not develop immunity) can become infected.

No specific antiviral treatment exists for measles virus.

Severe complications from measles can be avoided through supportive care that ensures good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration with WHO-recommended oral rehydration solution. This solution replaces fluids and other essential elements that are lost through diarrhoea or vomiting. Antibiotics should be prescribed to treat eye and ear infections, and pneumonia.

A number of measles outbreaks have been detected in a number of countries. While the TCI has high vaccination coverage in the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) (>95%), unvaccinated persons can still acquire measles through contact with an infectious person.

Having the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent measles. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective in providing long term protection against measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccines are offered free of cost to all children at government-operated primary care facilities across the TCI.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services encourages parents to ensure that theirchildren’s vaccines are up to date.  If you are unsure if you or your child has had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, please visit your health care provider. If you have missed a dose, you can still be vaccinated at any age.

The public is being advised to remain vigilant and report any fever with rash or fever followed by rash to their doctor/health care provider as soon as possible.

For additional information please call 649-348-5472 or 649-242-4963 outside of working hours or visit the Ministry of Health and Human Services Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tciministryofhealth/.

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