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Covid-19 cases spike in US; TCI starts year with ZERO reports

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, January 19, 2024 – Winter holidays are proving to be rife with COVID-19 cases in the United States according to the US Centers for Disease Control.  Variant JN.1 has become the most dominant in the North American country.

It comes as winter travel to the Turks and Caicos’s swells, with thousands of US passengers moving in and out of the country, on a weekly basis.

Hospital admissions in the US between December 17-23 rose to 29,059, a 16.7 percent increase, while deaths increased 10% over the previous week. The worst affected areas are in the east of the country.

With the general agreement between health professionals that cases are generally under-reported because residents choose to use self-tests and self-medicate, the CDC no longer tracks the amount of cases weekly in its Covid data tracker, but focuses on the amount of hospitalizations and deaths.

Despite this, it reports there has been a marked increase in not just Covid, but RSV and the Flu following Christmas holidays.

Over 10,000 vacationers spent the holidays in the Turks and Caicos, the majority of which would have been United States citizens. The last recorded number of cases in the Turks and Caicos Islands was 10 for the week of December 10-16.

There were no COVID-19 cases recorded in the Turks and Caicos for the period of December 24 to 30 according to the latest update from the Ministry of Health. The information was shared via their COVID-19 dashboard on January 10th.

Residents are urged to continue their COVID-19 protocols, including handwashing, and social distancing if you are ill.

Caribbean News

CARPHA Calls on Member States to Take Action to Reduce the Spread of Mosquito Borne Diseases

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  5 July 2024.   Mosquito borne diseases continue to pose a serious public health threat to the Caribbean Region.  The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has increased reports of Dengue outbreaks with hospitalisations and deaths in some instances, and recently confirmed cases of Zika, and Chikungunya at its Medical Microbiology Laboratory.

These mosquito-borne diseases can have a major impact on our way of life and our vital tourist industry on which most of our islands depend.

“The Region of the Americas has seen a two-hundred-fold increase in suspected Dengue cases in the first half of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023.  Member States are encouraged to remain vigilant. It is crucial that surveillance, prevention and control measures are boosted to reduce the transmission of arboviruses in the Caribbean,” stated Dr. Lisa Indar, Ad Interim Executive Director at CARPHA.

Dengue is known to cause outbreaks every three to five years.  The Region has seen outbreaks of Chikungunya and Zika virus infections that challenged public health systems in virtually every country in our Region.

Dr. Horace Cox, Assistant Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, and Head Vector Borne Diseases at CARPHA: “These viral infections are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito – a vector known to be endemic to the Region.  With the start of the hurricane season CARPHA is urging its Member States to strengthen integrated vector management strategies in their communities.  These include the elimination of mosquito breeding sites with the aim of reducing the number of mosquito larvae.”

To counter the increase in mosquitoes and potential disease transmission, greater effort should be placed on mosquito control activities in communities, and these should be intensified. CARPHA urges its Member States to review their preparedness and response plans, as well as to continue surveillance, early diagnosis, and timely care of arboviral disease cases, to prevent complications leading to hospitalisation and deaths.

Mr. Rajesh Ragoo, Senior Technical Officer for Vector-Borne Diseases at CARPHA stated “Community involvement is essential in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases. A proactive approach can help to reduce risk and keep communities safe.”

  • Check and remove standing water from around your home.  Ensure your surroundings are clean and free of materials or containers that can accumulate water around your homes and communities.
  • Use of wire-mesh/screens on doors and windows also help in reducing the entry of mosquitoes into homes.
  • Water storage drums and tanks must be properly covered and inspected periodically to ensure that there is no breeding. Roof gutters should also be cleaned to prevent water from pooling.

The mosquitoes that spread dengue are active during the day. Personal preventative measures to minimise mosquito bites are also extremely important. Vulnerable groups such as infants, young children, older adults, and women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, must be extra cautious. Long-sleeved clothing and repellents containing DEET, IR3535 or lemon eucalyptus, should be used to protect exposed skin, and must be used in accordance with the instructions on the product label. Confirmed cases of mosquito borne diseases should rest under mosquito nets.

CARPHA remains committed to supporting CARPHA Member States (CMS) in their vector control efforts, including capacity building in integrated vector control strategies.  CMS must continue to strengthen prevention and control measures such as surveillance, diagnosis, as well as timely and adequate treatment of cases, while ensuring that health care services are prepared to facilitate access and proper management of patients with these diseases.

CARPHA has produced campaigns to raise awareness, promote effective prevention, and control measures for mosquito borne diseases.  Information about mosquito borne diseases can be found here:

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Caribbean News

From Awareness to Action: Public Health Matters

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July 5, 2024

 

Caribbean Public Health Day (CPHD) is celebrated annually on July 2nd to raise awareness about public health’s vital role in the lives of Caribbean people, and to highlight the work of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). This day coincides with the anniversary of CARPHA, the region’s sole public health agency, legally established in July 2011 and operationalized in 2013 following the signing of an Intergovernmental Agreement by CARICOM Heads of Government.

This year’s CPHD theme, “From Awareness to Action: Public Health Matters,” brings to light the many daily activities that are influenced by multi-sectoral public health interventions. It also calls for individual actions to support public health efforts as we all contribute to the sustenance and development of Healthy People, Healthy Spaces and a Healthy Caribbean. By participating in local health initiatives, advocating for safe environments, and practicing and promoting healthful behaviours, we can all be champions of public health.

“Public health is more than preventing diseases; it’s a holistic approach to improving the health of people and their communities, including the air we breathe, the food we eat, our lifestyle behaviours and the environment we live in,” said Dr Lisa Indar, Ad Interim Executive Director at CARPHA when asked for comment.

Dr Mark Sami, Director of Corporate Services at CARPHA, added, “This day allows us to reflect on public health’s broader meaning. It is a right for every Caribbean citizen, and CARPHA is dedicated to being the region’s strongest advocate for healthful practices at all levels of society.”

CARPHA advances regional health under the principle that the health of the region is the wealth of the region. By promoting overall health, providing strategic direction and responding to public health priorities, implementing frameworks for disease prevention and control, supporting Member States response to health emergencies and supporting the objectives of the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH), the Agency stands at the forefront of regional development.

We invite everyone to learn more about CARPHA’s role in public health and how individual actions can contribute to a healthier and safer Caribbean. Visit www.carpha.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), and LinkedIn for more information.

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Health

Increase in COVID-19 Cases Prompts Public Health Alert

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The Ministry of Health and Human Services is issuing an urgent public health advisory following an increase in COVID-19 cases and other respiratory infections within the community and regionally. This alarming rise in cases underscores the importance of continued vigilance and adherence to recommended health guidelines to protect public health. Health officials are closely monitoring the situation and are urging residents to take immediate precautions to prevent further spread of these viruses.

Dr. Astwood, Chief Medical Officer, stated, “We are seeing a concerning rise in acute respiratory infections, including COVID-19, which indicates that these viruses are spreading rapidly in our community. It is imperative that we all take action to protect ourselves and others, especially the most vulnerable individuals within our population.”

To mitigate against the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, the Ministry of Health and Human Services recommends the following actions:

  1. Wear Masks:Wear masks in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor areas.
  2. Practice Good Hygiene:Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
  3. Avoid Crowded Places:Limit exposure to crowded and enclosed spaces where ventilation may be poor.
  4. Stay Home if Sick:If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any respiratory infection, stay home and seek medical advice.
  5. Follow public health guidelines and stay informed through reliable sources.
  6. Get Vaccinated:Ensure that you are up to date with COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.

Both adult and pediatric vaccines for COVID-19 are available at Primary Health Care Clinics across the country. Of note, there is a limited supply of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines available. To get vaccinated, make an appointment by calling Primary Health Care Clinics in:

  • Providenciales- 338-5472
  • Grand Turk: 338-5461
  • North/ Middle Caicos: 247-2126
  • South Caicos: 946-3800

The Ministry of Health and Human Services will continue to provide updates to the general public. For the latest updates and resources, please visit the Ministry of Health and Human Services Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tciministryofhealth/.

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