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NO MORE PORTAL, NO MORE MASKS, NO MORE TESTS  

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 26, 2022 – Well over half a million travel entry approvals have been processed by the TCI Travel Assured portal which will in four days become a relic; put into retirement as the Turks and Caicos Islands demonstrates it is confident the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic is behind us.

Also gone: mandatory mask wearing and mandatory testing in order to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands for everyone.

The announcement came on Monday April 25, 2022.  There were no new raft of rules unveiled to manage the virus, there were only rollbacks of restrictions and the beginning of COVID Normal for the TCI, which is a leading tourism destination and a UK overseas territory.

 …as of April 18th, 2022 the Turks and Caicos Islands have again lowered it’s CDC Health threat listing to now a level 2. I again thank all the Health Professionals, Frontline workers, the various associations, and you the general public for your role in helping us continue to manage this now over 2 year old Covid-19 Pandemic,” said Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health & Human Services.

Added to the improved health and safety rating by the CDC, the Turks and Caicos Minister in his Monday National Health Update had significant reveals and changes to the Covid 19 Public and Environmental Health protocols.

The rules were approved by Members of the Turks and Caicos Cabinet.

“Approved for a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered for all adults, prioritizing those aged 60 and over and high-risk immunosuppressed individuals in the first instance,” said Robinson, who added, “Members also agreed to remove the requirement for visitors to have a negative Covid test and insurance. As such, the requirement for all passengers to register their details on the TCI Assured portal is discontinued with effect of 1 May 2022.”

The change which takes effect as of Sunday, also puts the TCI Travel Assured Portal, which was established ahead of a July 2020 reopening of the borders to tourism after the threat of the coronavirus, into retirement.

Now, in order to enter the Turks and Caicos, there will be no need to apply and gain approval through the portal.  Just like in the old days, which was about two years ago, one just needs to buy a ticket and show up at the airline check in counter.

Visitors, however , will still need to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Once Covid-19 tanked global travel, countries responded with a pre-approval in order to visit the respective countries.  For the Turks and Caicos Islands, an approval was hinged on a valid test, vaccination card and insurance coverage.  It was painstakingly managed by human power under the remit of the TCI Ministry of Tourism.  The most recent COVID-19 Dashboard for TCI exposes that at the very least, some 478,593 guest travellers passed through the portal process.

The figure above is only part of the picture.  It does not include travelling residents and does not reflect guests who would have visited the territory prior to January 2021 rules when travellers were expected to test negative for COVID for entry and exit.

Masks in Turks and Caicos were already discontinued for outdoor activities; now the government has stepped back from legalizing the donning of face coverings.

“Approved amendments to the Public and Environmental Health Covid-19 Regulations removing the mandatory requirement for face masks to be worn indoors and in enclosed spaces with effect of 1 May 2022,” informed Minister Robison.

Masks are now optional.

Returning residents who are fully vaccinated never had to provide a negative test for COVID; now returning residents who are unvaccinated are exempt from testing also.

Minister Robinson informed, “Visitors must present proof of vaccination and returning residents must present proof of (TCI) residency.”

The significant changes which render null and void the need for a 3-day old PCR test, an antigen test or the wait and hope to get the TCI Travel Assured Portal approval ahead of flights, makes Turks and Caicos a far more attractive and affordable vacation option as the cost to visit and hassle to get in are now gone.

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Health

Women 30x more likely for UTIs; Learn More

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

January 25, 2023 – Itchy, uncomfortable and often painful Urinary Tract Infections affects millions of people yearly, the vast majority of them women. In fact ‘UTIs will likely affect almost half the female population at least once in their lives and women get UTIs up to 30 times more often than men do. Also, as many as 4 in 10 women who get a UTI will get at least one more within six months’ the US Office on Women’s Health explains.

Caused by germs that get into the bladder, UTIs can happen in any part of the large urinary system including the kidneys; ureters; bladder; and urethra, but are most common in the bladder. They are easy to cure with proper antibiotics but can be serious if left untreated. Knowing how to identify a UTI and getting quick and effective treatment can save women and girls a lot of pain. The UK National Health Agency lists the symptoms as

  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing (dysuria)
  • needing to pee more often than usual during the night (nocturia)
  • pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
  • needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • blood in your pee
  • lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • a very low temperature below 36C

What many people may not know is that these painful symptoms can affect young children as well, if your baby is generally unwell, has a high temperature, wets the bed or themselves and refuses to eat you may want to ask your doctor to take a look as these are symptoms of UTIs in children.

A quick visit to your doctor and a round of antibiotics will usually clear up the infection and any recurring ones but avoiding UTIs completely may be the best bet for all. UTIs are caused when bacteria often from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra, and infect the urinary tract the CDC says. The agency also lists a myriad risk factors that can cause this including poor hygiene in older adults with catheters or young children who are potty training causing bacteria to spread. Other risk factors include: Sexual activity; Changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina, or vaginal flora. (For example, menopause or the use of spermicides can cause these bacterial changes.); Pregnancy; and Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate.

There’s nothing to be embarrassed about in having the common medical condition a UTI, while painful, is easy to treat, make use of the treatment options available to you and don’t ignore the symptoms in the hope that they will disappear as this could make the problem worse.

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Caribbean News

Haiti’s death toll from cholera continues to climb; Cases shoot past 21,000

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

 

#Haiti, January 25, 2023 – The cholera situation in Haiti has worsened, with the country recording 496 deaths in nearly four months after the resurgence of cholera was reported on October 2 of last year.

In a statement released on Thursday, January 19, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) Department of Epidemiology revealed that the country has already registered 25,182 suspected cases and 21,407 hospitalized cases, 73 of which are new.

The Ministry noted that the average age of those infected is 19 years and the most affected age group is 1 to 4 years old, with 374 confirmed cases of 5005 suspected cases.

In addition, the department in the west, where Port-au-Prince is located and where more than one-third of the population lives, was pointed highlighted as the most affected area, with 1,155 confirmed cases for 16,408 suspected cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently warned that the world is suffering unprecedented cholera outbreaks in countries affected by climate disasters and other crises.

Vaccines to prevent the disease have also become “extremely scarce.”

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Government

US to consider annual COVID vaccination

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#USA, January 25, 2023 – In a matter of days, the United States is going to make a decision on whether or not they will make Covid-19 vaccinations an annual recommendation.

In an effort to reduce vaccine mistakes and increase compliance from the public the best way to administer COVID shots going forward is via a single vaccine shot for primary and booster doses according to a proposal from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA said despite the fact that the fact that bivalent vaccines were proven to work, getting shots into arms was proving difficult with the agency citing “implementation complexities”.

In addition healthcare workers have made mistakes administering the vaccine owing to the number of different vial presentations and booster uptake is low all these issues are expected to be fixed or improved with the simplification of the vaccine composition.

The vaccine will have to be periodically updated to handle new variants but if the FDA gets its way gone will be the era of multiple boosters. In fact the COVID shot will be more like the flu shot in how it is administered. Regulators will also vote on whether all shots should target the same variants. Of this is approved regulators would decide the most concerning variant in summer giving vaccine makers a chance to change the formulation in time for winter.

“Review of the totality of the available evidence on prior exposure to and vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 suggests that, moving forward, most individuals may only need to receive one dose of an approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine to restore protective immunity for a period of time. Two doses of an approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine may be needed to induce the expected protective immunity”

The Agency explained that though it was not completely the same the data observed in long term effectiveness of COVID shots was similar to that observed with annual influenza vaccination cementing their proposal.

The proposal will be considered this Thursday at the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Even as yearly shots are considered, the US is holding fast to its vaccine mandate for entry.

This is despite most other countries relaxing the rules months prior. The vax rule came into effect during the initial onset of Omicron in November 2021. Prior to that only a negative test was needed. The measure was set to expire on January 9th but was quickly extended to April 10 this year.

The WHO has advised that travel bans and restrictions “do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress and safety measures such as masking, testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination should be based on risk assessments.

The country lengthened their vax mandate and activated more stringent entry measures, particularly for travellers from the China region, as new and elusive COVID sub-variants are emerging and infection rates are increasing.

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