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Students wearing masks in class
Community Articles, Health,

No masks, no testing, so allow the unvaccinated visitors to come too

Vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can contract the virus

Introduction

Let me first declare two things. I am vaccinated and I have no regrets being vaccinated particularly due to the underlying condition the doctors told me I have. The second declaration is that I work in the hospitality industry and this article is by no means to promote my industry.

You see the Government has decided to relax the requirements for visitors coming to the Turks and Caicos. I do believe a review was necessary especially with respect to the portal whereby all persons (visitors and residents) had to register and complete prior to entering the Turks and Caicos. For many persons including myself, it was so stressful because sometimes the approval came through at the last minute. Therefore, I support the removal of the portal.

However, I do not support the discontinuation of the wearing of masks and testing, as we will expose the residents to a greater chance of contracting the virus.

No mask

I know many will argue that wearing a mask is not healthy as it affects your breathing and possibly breathing into much carbon dioxide. However, many health experts have stated there is nothing scientific to prove those arguments and in fact they claimed the wearing of masks is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

The Turks and Caicos Hospital has announced that the wearing of masks for all staff, patients and visitors will remain in effect for the organization. The press release also further stated how the Omicron subvariant BA-2 is more transmissible than the original variant. Therefore, I encourage individuals to be vigilant and don’t let your guard down and you can do so by wearing your masks. The virus is still present and as you can recall, there was a significant spike over the Christmas holidays because there were many outdoor events and people were not wearing masks.

No testing

All visitors entering the Turks and Caicos Islands are required to be vaccinated. Prior to the relaxation of the entry requirements, visitors and unvaccinated residents were also required to have a negative COVID 19 test within three days of arrival.

I don’t think this requirement should have been discontinued. I believe everyone should be tested including vaccinated residents. Obviously, by getting testing, you can know the status of individuals and if you are positive, you should not be allowed to enter the country. The thing is, because testing is no longer required, there will be individuals entering the country who are positive who in turn will spread the virus to others. I am not saying that people will enter the country and intentional spread the virus as the truth is some people are asymptomatic and therefore wouldn’t know if they have the virus until they are tested.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated can contract the virus

According to CDC, the vaccine can prevent you from getting seriously ill and offers protection. However, you can be vaccinated and still contact the virus. Now if vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can contract the virus and the fact that the Government has removed the requirement of no masks, no testing, and no insurance, then shouldn’t the Government also allow unvaccinated individuals to enter the country too.

Conclusion

Many individuals are tired of wearing the masks and therefore now that is not mandatory, they will not wear the masks. At the time of writing this article, there were 50 active cases in TCI. While this number is low, we have to be very careful that there is no increase in the spread of the virus. The spread of the virus can be reduced by wearing masks, washing your hands frequently and physically distance yourself from others. It only takes one person who is COVID 19 positive to cause an outbreak of the spread of the virus to others. Is this what we really want?

Dialysis machine Remove waste from the body
Community Articles, Health,

Living with Kidney Failure

Do your own research and always get a second opinion from a specialist

Introduction

I believe having a chronic disease is one of most challenging issues an individual will  ever encounter in their life.  March is National Kidney month and so in honour of this, I am writing this article on kidney failure based on my personal experience.

Kidney failure takes place when one or both of your kidneys stop working and therefore the kidneys cannot remove the waste from your body as they were designed to do.

There are two types of kidney failures namely acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure. Acute kidney failure occurs suddenly and may be treated and cured and that is why acute kidney failure individuals do not remain on dialysis for a lengthy period of time. On the other hand, chronic kidney failure occurs over a period of time and according to doctors, it cannot be cured. Therefore, persons with chronic kidney failure are treated by being on dialysis. The other solution is to get a kidney transplant.

The two main causes of chronic kidney failure are high blood pressure and diabetes. If you take care of yourself properly by eating the right kinds of food and exercising, you may prevent yourself from facing kidney failure.

My personal story on kidney failure

When my wife and I returned from Canada in 1998, we were about to build our first home and the bank required a life insurance and so I got a medical checkup. After the checkup, the doctor advised me that there is too much protein in my urine and he cannot give me clean state of health and so I went to Bahamas to do a biopsy and the doctor there advised me that I had IGA nephropathy. He said it can disappear or continue and so I returned home and was taking medications. Every year until 2016, I would get a medical check up and the doctor would advise me that my GFR was at 40 and I will be okay. Now I didn’t do any research about this was and I continued to live my life with the medications, no change in diets and no exercise as I didn’t know.  Then in 2016 when I did the annual medical examination, the doctor called me and told me that my kidney is functioning at 19% and will have to refer me to the nephrologist at the Hospital. This is when I realized that the condition I had was serious and then I started to investigate. Had I known what I know now, I would have changed my lifestyle in terms of my diet and maybe I would have not been on dialysis.

in 2016, the function of the kidneys continued to drop suddenly and it was down to 4% and I began to panic and worried about dying and leaving my family behind. In November 2016, the doctor sent me to the Bahamas to get a fistular installed in my left arm so that I can start the dialysis treatment which I did on December 26th 2016. It was a life changing experience for me because I go to the hospital three times a week for dialysis from 530am for four hours. During dialysis, the nurse inserts two needles in your fistula to connect to the machine via tubes. One needle removes the blood and sends it to the machine to get cleaned and the other needle allows the blood to return to my body.

For me, getting stick with the two needles, three times a week is the most difficult part of dialysis because I don’t like getting stick with needles. Because I am on dialysis and I don’t have any insurance, my travelling outside of Turks and Caicos is very limited and anyone that knows me know I love to travel. I take several medications a day, roughly about 5 pills a day. I also have to be very careful what I eat and so I don’t eat red meat. I was recommended not to eat bananas which are my favourite fruits and so my diet is restricted. I also have to be careful how much liquid I intake because the more liquid and food you consume, the more the nurses will take off you. For example, my body weight is 68.5kg and if I go to the dialysis weighing 70.5, they have to take off 2 kgs plus an extra .5 because we eat while we are there. If too much is removed from you, you can develop cramps and also be very tired and therefore we have to manage our intake. There is one positive thing about being on dialysis is that I am not distracted and I get a lot work done while being there for four hours.

The past five years have been an experience. I was embarrassed about being on dialysis. I asked God many times why he allowed this to happen to me. There were many times I became depressed about this situation and having so many negative thoughts. However, I am much better now and I am thankful that God has given man the wisdom to deal with kidney failure patients so that our lives can be prolonged.

Conclusion

Do not take your life for granted. Get a medical check up at least twice a year. You may have kidney failure and don’t even know you have it. Do research on any disease the doctor diagnosed you with and always get a second opinion from a specialist. I believe that one of the mistakes I made is that, I didn’t get a second opinion and I didn’t realize it was a big deal until it was too late.  Be very careful what you eat and drink because your diet can cause you to endure and suffer from a chronic disease. 

Finally, be sensitive to people’s feelings. Don’t tell people you would not wish that on your worst enemy and don’t tell people you hope they are not next in the coffin. Say something encouraging to individuals with a disease. Do you know that people have been on dialysis for more than 20 years right here in the Turks and Caicos? Not because you are on dialysis, mean you will die soon. Some people who were on dialysis die due to other diseases.

I hope this article educated you about kidney failure and encouraged you to take care of yourself so that you do not have to face chronic kidney failure or any other disease.

Female Lab Worker Wearing PPE Researching Covid-19 Omicron Variant And Vaccine With Microscope
Community Articles, Health,

Don’t panic over the COVID 19 numbers – We have to co-exist with COVID 19

Introduction

I know by now, we expected COVID 19 to be something of the past but we continue to face COVID 19 along with so many variants.  One of the latest variants is the Omicron which appears to be spreading easily compared to other variants.  I believe the surge in the COVID 19 numbers is due to the Omicron variant. I am not a health expert but based on research, the impact of the Omicron variant is mild compared to other variants.

In the Turks and Caicos, the numbers are high especially for the size of our country. Because of these high numbers, many people are in a panic state, however we don’t have to panic especially if we do our part in preventing the spread of the virus.

Many people are wondering what the Government is going to do about this dramatic increase in the numbers. Some are wondering will there be another shut down. Some are wondering whether there will curfews. The Government is tightlipped as to whether there will be restrictions or shut down. Personally, I don’t think we need to do any of the above. As Mr. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the U.K. has stated, “we got to live with this and the UK will not be shutting down and they will not be closing schools.”

The numbers are expected to be high

The World Health Organization has stated that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant and so the numbers are expected to be high. Therefore, any country that has the presence of Omicron variant, should expect their numbers too be high and that is why it is important the relevant health authorities advise the public about the expected increase in COVID 19 and hopefully this will alleviate the panic.

Let us look around the world. The UK stated that this is the highest growth of COVID 19 cases the country ever had since the emergence of COVID 19. One day alone over 200,000 people in the UK were tested positive. The US has reported a million cases in one day but some of it is due to backlog but the point is that across the world there is an increase in COVID cases.

Omicron is not that severe

If Omicron is the main factor causing the surge in COVID 19, the good news is that Omicron is not as severe as other variants. While people are being admitted to the hospitals, they do not require to be in the Intensive Care Unit. Although, we should be cautious, we do not need to be in a panic state because the symptoms of Omicron appear to be similar to the symptoms of a common cold.

Do your part

The virus is very strange. You can be in the same household with someone who tested positive but you tested negative. Therefore the best thing to do is for us to do our part by washing our hands, wearing our masks and practicing social distance. Many of us take things for granted. We are with our friends and family and we are not wearing masks. We attend public places and are not wearing masks and yet we are surprised when we are tested positive. We must be vigilant and we must assume that everyone that we come into contact may have the virus and if you assume that you will protect yourself.

We can co-exist

We do not need to close down our country nor do we need to put in any further restrictions. I know we must ensure the health of the nation but we also have to live with this virus. I do not support much what the UK does but this time I support them in not shutting down their country and not closing the schools. I believe we can co-exist and we must co-exist with COVID 19. The thing is when you close down a country, the virus may decrease but when you reopen, it starts to spread again and so closing down is not the answer.

Let us always pray

In everything we do, let us always pray. Prayer is the most powerful tool that can change the outcome of an event. Do not panic but continue to pray against this virus.

Conclusion

This article is based on the assumption that the rapid increase of COVID 19 cases in TCI is due to the presence of the Omicron. Variant.  This does not require us to be panic and I don’t think the Government has to implement anything further than what is already in place. However, the Government should always communicate with the public regularly, to bring awareness about the COVID 19 and to promote the best defense against the virus which is believed to be the vaccines.

Covid-19 swab test
Community Articles, Health,

More review of the travel requirements and more testing are required to deal with this increase in COVID 19 cases

Introduction

Over the last couple of days in December 2021, the Turks and Caicos has seen a significant increase in the number of COVID 19 cases. One day alone, there was 124 new cases. One report indicated that at least 60% of the new cases came from Tourists. The thing is we do not know whether the tourists brought that with them or if they contracted it while on island. Many of us that reside on the island are attending events and are not wearing masks and maybe we are the ones that spreading the COVID and we do not know because we are not required to get tested unless we are travelling abroad.

I believe the reason why the tourists make up a high percentage of the new cases is because they are the ones that are being tested to meet the travel requirement in order to return to their country. It should be noted that even tourists that are vaccinated are required to take a test to return to the US. Meanwhile in the Turks and Caicos Islands, only unvaccinated returning residents are required to take a test to return Turks and Caicos.

With that significant increase in the number of cases, we will need to conduct more testing and review the requirements for travelling to the Turks and Caicos

Amend travel Requirements for Visitors

Currently in order to travel to the Turks and Caicos, visitors, 12 years and older must have a negative COVID 19 test prior to three days of arrival to the Turks and Caicos. I note that the Government is now changing that requirement from 12 years to 2 years old which is similar to the US requirement. However, given the increase in the cases, perhaps the Government should also amend the number of days from 3 days to 1 day for the testing. I know the challenge of course will be getting the approval from TCI assured portal. Obviously, the portal will need to be upgraded and automated before this recommended amendment take places because the waiting time for approval is very long for some individuals. The reason I am suggesting one day is because you can be positive for COVID 19 after you take the test within 3 days but at least if you take it within 1 day, you will know whether or not you have COVID 19

Review travel requirements for returning residents

I am vaccinated and so whenever I travel and return to the Turks and Caicos Islands, I am not required to take COVID 19 test to return home. However, as we know being vaccinated protects you but it does not prevent you from getting COVID 19. Therefore, I think all returning residents whether vaccinated or not should get tested before returning home. The thing is you can have COVID 19 and don’t know you have it and as a result you can spread it innocently to someone on the plane or at the airport.

I believe the Government wants to encourage more persons to get vaccinated and perhaps that is why the requirement is different for unvaccinated persons but as mentioned previously, you can be vaccinated and still contract the virus.

More testing is needed

I know that once someone in a household has contracted the virus, the entire household is tested. However, given this sudden increase in the number of cases in the country, perhaps we need to start conducting more testing throughout the community as we just don’t know who has the virus.

Conclusion

I know that it is a tough call to make when dealing with COVID 19. However, it appears to be out of hand and almost every family seems to be impacted. Therefore, in order to prevent further spread of this virus, the Government will have to implement some new measures in place. Furthermore, we need to do our part by washing our hands, wearing masks and physically distancing ourselves from others.

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