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Eight under investigation for COVID-19 in Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

It is difficult to recall when any event or series of events have taken on the global interest and concern over what is suspected, especially if everyone does not act as responsibly as required, will kill millions globally.

Tiny Montserrat is not spared the attention in this pandemic surrounding the Coronavirus (COVIVD-19) as complaints and questions surmount as to whether Government of Montserrat (GoM) has been responsible or at least demonstrated in their actions or inactions the necessary measures to deal with the situation as far as it affects the island and its people.

The foregoing does not suggest in any way and judgment of anything done or not done but the attempt has been made to keep the people informed of GoM activities with regard to the pandemic.

Today closes with information from the Government Information Unit that a total of eight patients have been sampled for COVID-19 testing on Montserrat over the period Thursday, March 19 and Saturday, March 21, 2020. 

The release states this was reported by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) today, Monday, March 23, 2020.

“Since the opening of the St. Peter’s “flu clinic” on Thursday 19 March, a total of 33 patients have been assessed at the compound. 21 on Thursday and 12 on Friday. Five of those patients met the criteria for testing. That is, they were identified as high risk and displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19. Samples were collected from an additional 3 patients as part of the 24- hour COVID-19 Care Service established by the Ministry.  All suspected cases are in quarantine while we await the results,” the release stated.1st

What still remains to be clarified is that TMR had obtained information that the day when the first person was confirmed positive there were already eight persons suspected, making the news today somewhat suspicious, as questions continue to be raised as to how ready the health authorities are to deal with the threats and concerns surrounding the issues involved.

All eight samples were reportedly dispatched to the CARPHA Reference Laboratory in Trinidad today.

Meantime, however, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharra Greenaway–Duberry confirmed however that future testing may create a challenge as Trinidad & Tobago is closing its borders as of Monday, March 23. This does raise further questions as to why this should be an issue. In the meantime, there is also information that training has been done closer to Montserrat in the area of testing.

The release reported the CMO as saying, “The unprecedented border closures are creating severe and unexpected challenges, the Ministry is now therefore, exploring other options to eliminate them and streamline the diagnostic process; such as building the on-island capacity to test.”

She also offered an update on the well-being of the island’s first confirmed case. She indicated that the patient remains in isolation and is doing well.  

She also emphasized the need for the public to continue to adhere to prevention and protection measures. “Although COVID-19 infections will be mild for most it is important that we protect our vulnerable and those most at risk of severe infection and even death. The highest risk groups include the elderly and persons living with conditions such as asthma and other respiratory ailments, and chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.  By practicing good hygiene and social distancing we can drastically decrease the possible rates of infection here in Montserrat,” Dr. Greenaway- Duberry is quoted as saying.

A reminder is also issued to the public that all persons experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sneeze, stuffy, and runny nose should contact the St. Peter’s clinic by telephone at the following numbers:  491-5436 or 496- 9724. The clinic is opened daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Outside those hours’ persons can receive medical attention by calling the Glendon Hospital Casualty Department at 491-2802 /491-2836/491-2552.

See below from a CNBC report that WHO has now published a variation to the airborne nature of the virus!

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/who-considers-airborne-precautions-for-medical-staff-after-study-shows-coronavirus-can-survive-in-air.html

Posted in Climate/Weather, COVID-19, Environment, Featured, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

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MOHSS Youth department promotes youth potential

L-R: Meliek Richards, Beryl Ray Idiaghe, Kenita Barzey, Aaliyah Giddings, Alicia Giddings, Otis Miller and Anderson Alerte

As part of their mandate – “wanting to offer more to the youth of the island, thus in an effort to help them reach their full potential, the Ministry of Youth Affairs held a Non-Denominational Bible Quiz on Sunday, February 23, 2020, at the Arts and Education Centre in Brades.

Mrs. Helena Dorsette

The event was surprisingly not very well attended, a lament by Mrs. Helena Dorsette who was one of the main organisers from the Ministry, but the participation was good.

The Ministry touts in offering the background to the event – “The Bible is one of the oldest texts in the history of the world! There have been few books as widely read, studied or debated. It offers fun learning, incredible information, and guidance for daily living.

On Montserrat, there are many programs geared at attracting the youth and other persons in the communities. Some involve Dancing, Revelry, Pageantry, Sports, Gospel Music, Education and more.

 The Department of Community, Youth and Sports Services (DCYSS) has played a pivotal role in bringing many of these programs to fruition, or in collaborating with groups and/or organizations involved.

l-r: Beryl Ray Idiaghe, Kenita Barzey, Meliek Richards, and Anderson Alerte

This Non-Denominational Bible Quiz came as a result of a desire to offer more to the youth of the island. “In our effort to help them reach their full potential, it would be remiss of us, domiciled in this Christian Community, not to include a Biblically-based program which can only lend itself to the benefit of the persons involved,” the department youth leaders wrote.

They say that the main objectives of the Non-Denominational Bible Quiz is to create a level playing field on which every youth can meet and play without fear of discrimination.

Consequently, it is hoped that the youth involved in this program will be interested in encouraging their peers to get involved as well so that this could become an Annual Event.

Nadia Browne

Miss Nadia Browne moderated excellently while Youth and Community Development Officer Ms. Nicole Hixon performed the awarding of the trophy and prizes to the winners, and Youth and Community Development Worker Mrs. Dorsette carried out duties of organiser, director,  providing pertinent information and closing comments.

Ms. Nicole Hixon delivers winning trophy to the Giddings

Following are the results of that DCYSS’ Non-Denominational Bible Quiz results.

Beulah Wesleyan Holiness Won with 270 pts.

Ortis Miller with Alicia and Aaliyah Giddings

Aaliyah Giddings had the highest point of all = 140pts

Alicia Giddings had 130pts

Church of God of Prophecy – and House of Refuge & Deliverance tied for 1st Runner’s Up with 260pts

Kenita Barzey and Beryl Ray Idiaghe each had 130pts each for the Church of God of Prophecy; while Ortis Miller who alone represented House of Refuge and Deliverance, answering 26 questions. He earned 130 pts in each round for a score of 260 pts.

Which meant while the other contestants had 13 questions each, he had to answer 26. In round one he had 130pts and again in round two – 130pts.

Seventh-Day Adventist was 2nd Runner’s Up with 230pts. Meliek Richards had 120pts. Anderson Alerte had 110pts

Posted in Education, Local, News, Regional, Religion, Scriptures, Youth0 Comments

Everything you wanted to know about COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus

https://youtu.be/2kVHVGnwAs0

<iframe width=”949″ height=”534″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/2kVHVGnwAs0″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Overview – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Live from WHO Headquarters – COVID-19 daily press briefing 20 March 2020

https://youtu.be/6BOKgSCPD4E

https://www.facebook.com/UWITv/videos/534699217452026/

Posted in Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

SELF

How to Clean Your Home With Coronavirus in Mind

SELF

HealthMarch 20, 2020 – Related Condition Centers

Reprint

Don’t forget your doorknobs.

By Patia Braithwaite

Coronavirus Cleaning and Disinfection Tips to Keep in Mind
Carol Yepes / Getty Images

If you’re one of those people who always keeps a spotless home, the influx of new coronavirus cases might have kicked you into a coronavirus cleaning frenzy. Even if you’re someone who thinks cleaning is more of a chore than a calling, the news that the new coronavirus appears to be able to survive on physical surfaces for varying lengths of time may have you looking for a few house cleaning tips.

First, a big disclaimer: Based on what we know so far, the new coronavirus is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets, not contact with contaminated surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains. The new coronavirus can spread when people are in close contact with each other—typically within six feet—and someone with the new coronavirus disease (also known as COVID-19) coughs, sneezes, or talks. These actions produce droplets that can land on the noses and mouths of other people, thereby spreading the infection, Marc Lipsitch, D.Phil., professor of epidemiology at Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells SELF. (It may also be possible to just inhale the droplets before they land on your body.)

Even though SARS-CoV-2 (the pathogen that causes the new coronavirus disease) appears to spread mainly via those droplets, experts think you can also get COVID-19 by touching a surface contaminated with the virus, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, the CDC says. What’s more, as we referenced, emerging evidence indicates that SARS-CoV-2 can live on some surfaces for several hours or even days.

Researchers, including infectious disease experts from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), published a recent study that suggests the new coronavirus can potentially live on copper surfaces for up to four hours, on cardboard for around 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three to four days. These findings haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, which means experts will need more time before they can say exactly how long the virus can actually live on surfaces under the real-world (outside of a lab) conditions. But working from this premise, you can see why it’s extra important that we’re all really on top of cleaning and disinfecting right now (in addition to things like regularly washing our hands). So, let’s get right to the cleaning Qs and As.

How often do I need to clean my home right now?

First things first: There’s a difference between cleaning, which means removing visible traces of dirt, and disinfecting, which involves killing germs with chemicals, the CDC explains.

Provided that you regularly clean and disinfect your home, you’re starting from a great place. “Regularly” is a relative word, but in general, you should aim to clean your home at least once a week, Philip Tierno, Ph.D., clinical professor in the departments of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells SELF. Yes, even in non-pandemic times.

To increase your protection against the new coronavirus, the CDC recommends daily cleaning and disinfecting of “high-touch areas,” which, as you guessed, are the surfaces of your home that you’re always touching for one reason or another. Since your hands are great at transferring bacteria, viruses, and the like, these spots tend to be among the germiest places in your home. They include doorknobs, light switches, tables, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks, and chairs. Basically, anything you or the people you live with touch even somewhat frequently deserves a lot of your attention right now, especially if it’s a hard surface. (Viruses generally live longer on hard surfaces than on soft, more porous ones, according to the Mayo Clinic.)

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Feel free to increase how often you’re cleaning and disinfecting based on your routine. If several people live in your home, or if you go outside and come home, it’s absolutely fine to hit those areas more frequently than once a day. (And keep in mind that areas like the kitchen and bathroom tend to be germiest overall, Tierno says.)

What should I use to clean and disinfect?

It depends on if you’re talking about hard or soft surfaces.

For hard surfaces, the CDC says you can use regular soap and water for cleaning (or a special cleanser if the material calls for it), then you can use a few different options for disinfection. One is a household disinfectant like the type you buy in a store. If you’re determined to use the most effective disinfectant possible to account for the new coronavirus, take a look at this list of products that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for combating emerging pathogens, including the new coronavirus. The list is by no means exhaustive, but you’ll find products from several well-known brands on it, including Lysol, Clorox, and Purell. In other words, many of the products on this list aren’t obscure cleaners that only pros know about.

If your local store doesn’t have many disinfectant options at the moment, you can also disinfect surfaces with alcohol solutions that contain at least 70 percent alcohol (which you might have lying around as an antiseptic), or you can make a diluted bleach solution (four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water), the CDC says. Tierno is a strong proponent of bleach and considers it “the cheapest and most effective disinfectant that money can buy,” he previously told SELF. So, if all else fails (or your favorite disinfectant wipes are temporarily out of stock), a paper towel and your household disinfectant of choice will do the trick. Just remember to wear disposable gloves if you can while you’re cleaning (so you can toss them when you’re done), the CDC says. And be sure to follow the instructions on the label of whatever you’re using.

We’ve talked a great deal about hard surfaces, but some of us have carpets, curtains, and other softer spots around the house that need to be cleaned as well. First, the CDC says to remove any visible dirt or grime, then clean those areas with products that are made for those surfaces. After you’ve done that, the CDC recommends dropping the items in the laundry (which we’ll get to next) if you can.

What about cleaning bedding, clothing, and other laundry?

SELF previously suggested that you change your sheets weekly, and the CDC doesn’t make any specific recommendations about doing it more frequently due to the new coronavirus. But Tierno does say that paying attention to bedding is important because germs can collect there. So, if it soothes you to change your sheets more frequently, go right ahead.

There isn’t much public direction for how we should clean anything we’ve worn outside in the age of the new coronavirus. Large gatherings aren’t really happening anymore, but for what it’s worth, the CDC’s previous, new coronavirus-based guidance for how to handle laundry after being at a big gathering can offer some insight for what to do with clothes you’ve worn outside at all.

For starters, try to handle any clothes you’ve worn outside without shaking the items because this will limit the possibility of spreading the virus through the air. Additionally, wash the items in the warmest possible setting (keeping the manufacturer’s instructions in mind), and dry them thoroughly, the CDC says. When you’re done handling dirty clothes, clean and disinfect any hampers or laundry baskets you used in the process, and then, the CDC says to wash your hands thoroughly, which you’re undoubtedly used to by now.

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While there aren’t currently super-specific laundry guidelines for people who have been social distancing for a while now, if it gives you peace of mind to follow these laundry rules even with clothes you’ve only worn inside, we don’t see any harm.

As for smaller items like wallets, purses, and tote bags, the CDC doesn’t have specific laundering recommendations, but cleaning and disinfecting them according to the manufacturers’ instructions can help lower their germ load. When handling an item that you can’t clean easily, the best practice is to wash your hands when you’re done or use hand sanitizer when handwashing isn’t an option.

Do I need to clean every package and item that comes into my home?

Based on what we know right now, there is evidence that the new coronavirus can hang out on cardboard surfaces, like the ones your delivered delights probably come in. There isn’t any official guidance from the CDC on whether or not you need to disinfect packages before they enter your home, but if it makes you feel better to do so, then, by all means, wipe packages down with disinfectant wipes.

Additionally, food and food packaging haven’t been known to cause any reported cases of the new coronavirus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To combat the overall risk of contracting any virus (including SARS-CoV-2), the FDA recommends that you clean, separate, cook, and chill your food. (You can find more information about those steps in our story about how to prevent getting a foodborne illness when you’re cooking.)

What if someone has been in my house—do I need to clean again?

This seems like a great opportunity to plug social distancing. Since the new coronavirus spreads easily from person to person, public health experts are suggesting you put distance between yourself and others outside your home to limit spreading the virus within communities.

While a cute little kickback at home sounds fun, social distancing includes limiting visitors whenever possible. (Yes, even if none of you seem to have new coronavirus symptoms—there is some evidence that people who don’t have symptoms can spread the illness, which essentially means all of us can spread the illness, tbh.) That said, if someone who doesn’t live with you does need to stop by for some reason, clean those high-touch areas that we mentioned above after they’ve left, like doorknobs and the backs of chairs, along with anything else you noticed them coming into contact with.

How do I clean if someone in my house has the new coronavirus?

If someone in your home has new coronavirus symptoms, there are a few special things you should do in terms of cleaning.

First, though, we need to talk about the fact that you’re probably scared, which is the most understandable thing in the world right now. Here are signs it’s time to seek emergency care for someone with the new coronavirus if having that knowledge might help you feel more secure. We also have some tips for dealing with new coronavirus anxiety, although, granted, caring for someone with the disease puts you in an especially stressful situation. Finally, when it comes to cleaning, know that you can still try to take steps to reduce the risk of getting the virus yourself, even if you’re caring for someone with COVID-19.

The biggest step, which can be hard physically and emotionally, is to cut back on contact with them as much as you can, the CDC says. That means, if possible, you should designate a separate room for your loved one to rest and recover without potentially spreading the illness. Ideally, there should be a bathroom only they use, as well. We know: A separate bedroom and bathroom is a luxury a lot of us don’t have. Try to carve out an area for them to spend most of their time, at least, even if you live together in a studio apartment.

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No matter what you’re cleaning in this scenario, you should wear disposable gloves if you can (and toss them after each cleaning), and remember to thoroughly wash your hands after you remove the gloves. Here are more specific tips based on the area:

Bedroom and bathroom: If you are able to have separate spaces, the CDC recommends using separate cleaning supplies for the ill person’s spaces (including tissues, paper towels, and EPA-registered disinfectants) and only cleaning their bedroom and bathroom when it’s really necessary (like if something is visibly dirty). This sounds counterintuitive, but it makes sense. Even though the urge to clean your loved one’s space after every cough may be strong, you should make it a priority to reduce your own contact with the virus.

If you’re sharing a bathroom with someone who has the new coronavirus, the CDC recommends that the person with COVID-19 clean and disinfect the facilities after each use if they can. If they aren’t up to that (which is understandable), try to wait as long as you can before going in to clean and disinfect after the person who has the illness.

Laundry: When it comes to washing a sick person’s clothes and other items, the rules are pretty similar to what the CDC was recommending after large community gatherings: wearing gloves (that you throw away after you use them), keeping clothes and bedding away from your body (doing your best not to shake them), washing items with the hottest water they can handle, and disinfecting any hampers that you’ve used to store their dirty clothes. At the risk of sounding like a glitching robot, wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done. It really can help minimize your risk.

Dishes and food: If someone in your house has the new coronavirus, it’s best not to share drinks or food using the same plates, cups, utensils, and similar objects. You should take a few more precautionary steps, too. Wear disposable gloves when handling their dishes, and wash all of their plates and utensils in hot water with dish soap, the CDC says. You should also make sure to handle any food-related items that you can’t throw out with gloves, the CDC says. And, of course, wash your hands thoroughly after you’re finished.

Trash: In addition to a separate bathroom, bedroom, and objects like dishes, the person in your house with the new coronavirus should also have their own lined trash bag, according to the CDC. When you’re changing the lining or taking out the trash, you should use gloves, and, as you can imagine, you should absolutely wash your hands when you’re done.

This might all feel a bit overwhelming, but we want you to remember to do the best you can with the information available. There is so much about this new coronavirus that experts don’t quite understand yet, and there’s even more that you can’t control. Hopefully, learning the best ways to keep your house clean can help you channel some of those concerns into useful actions that make you feel even the tiniest bit more comfortable. “Practice good, regular hygiene—home, personal, and food—and it’ll go a long way,” Tierno says.

Related:

Patia Braithwaite is a writer and editor who joined SELF in May 2019. She was previously the wellness editor at Refinery29, and her freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post and VICE. She lives in Brooklyn, where, despite her busy schedule, she spends an unbelievable amount of time on her… Read more

SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional

Posted in COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Technology0 Comments

Judge-Persad-DSC_1418

The ‘historic’ Brandt trial pines with continuing issues

by Bennette Roach

The David Brandt that the current lead attorney trial that somewhat began in earnest on February 28 from that time had been dealing with what was reported as preliminary matters and held mostly ‘in-camera’ which generally means that the press and the public are prohibited from the hearings.

These hearings ended with further potential delays in the offing and further continuation of the trial to begin at an unspecified date in June or July of this year. This as attorney/s for David Brandt are dissatisfied with most of the results as they appear in the judgments given by His Lordship Justice Rajiv Persad.

Among the matters surrounded an effort to have the Brandt’s revoked bail since June last year. It was not an application for bail as His Lordship Persad noted.  Before him was an application filed by Dr. Dorsett for the defendant titled “Notice of Application pursuant to section 20(1) of the Constitution of Montserrat” and alternatively a “Notice of Application for re-admittance to bail”.

Justce Rajiv Persad (Ag.) at the ECSC launch of its new web portal

As the judge noted in his judgment on this matter, “In this notice, the defendant seeks three forms of relief.

Firstly, he is seeking a declaration that the hearing of the 17th and 18th of June 2019 by Mr. Justice Evans was in breach of the defendant’s constitutional right to the protection of law.

Secondly, he is seeking an order that any orders made at that hearing of the 17th and 18th of June 2019 be set aside.

Thirdly in the alternative, that this court re-admit the defendant to bail on the same terms and conditions as obtained prior to the revocation of Bail on the 18th June, 2019.

The final clauses of the six-page judgment reads:

Accordingly, this court is not prepared to exercise its discretion under section 20(1) the Constitution of Montserrat to grant any relief on this application having regard to the academic nature of this exercise and it is also the view of this court, that the public interest in the issues raised in this matter are not of a nature that requires this court to adjudicate on the issues raised by the defendant relative to the hearing before Mr. Justice Evans in June 2019. (see https://www.themontserratreporter.com/brandts-trial-to-begin-february-28/)

This court, therefore, does not need to consider in depth when the application to raise constitutional issues before this court relative to the hearing before Mr. Justice Evans constitutes an abuse of the court process having regard to the availability of common law remedies or whether it is in fact appropriate for the judge sitting in the criminal trial to seek to pronounce on the lawfulness/ constitutionality of a previous decision relative to bail which strictly speaking is not part of the fair trial process or is an issue which can be raised in the course and conduct of the criminal trial going forward.

That having been said this application is therefore dismissed.

The other major issues of the days substantive hearings which lasted from March 2 – 9, of which there was no hearing on three days related to rulings on three preliminary applications.

These were (1) the defendant’s entitlement to challenge the Crown’s right to stand-by jurors. (2) Whether the crown has a right to peremptory challenges; and (3) a major one coming out of the recent appeal court sitting in January, the ‘admissibility of illegally obtained evidence’ at the trial.

In all these matters, Dr. David Dorsett, and Mr. David Brandt in his own defence; and Miss Anesta Weekes QC, Mr. Oris Sullivan OPP and Mr. Henry Gordon Senior Crown Counsel for the Crown.

At the end of the 21-page 44 clauses judgment the acting judge gave four rulings:

  1. That the use of the power to stand by jurors pursuant to section 27(b) of the Jury Act is unconstitutional and cannot be relied upon by the Crown.
  • That in order to ensure equality of arms the provisions of section 27 of the Jury Act are hereby modified so as to allow Crown a peremptory challenge to three jurors identical to the rights and entitlements of a defendant in this matter.
  • That the right to stand by may be exercised by the Crown only if there is consent by the defendant or defendants in a case, or where there are exceptional circumstances.
  • That the defendant’s objection to the admissibility of WhatsApp messages is overruled and the Crown will be allowed to adduce such evidence at a trial of this matter.

The first three rulings, here the defendant is claiming victory, while on the fourth they remain adamant that the judge is wrong as much as the hearing is expected now to continue in June there are hints that this will find the appellate courts.

There was the other side matter which there was no written ruling available, reportedly Justice Persad, acting judge, has ruled according to a draft of an Originating Motion via Fixed Date Claim where it seeks some 13 remedies in respect of the appointment of Dr. David Dorsett an amicus curiae in the said David Brandt trial.

  • Among other remedies, the Claim seeks eight declarations (1) that for the purposes of section 7(2)(d) of the Constitution of Montserrat (“the Constitution”), “a legal representative at the public expense” is a legal representative provided for by the Government of Montserrat for the purposes of defending a person charged with a criminal offense.
  • A declaration that for the purposes of section 7(2)(d) of the Constitution of Montserrat (“the Constitution”), “a legal representative at the public expense” is not an amicus curiae, whether appointed by an order of the court or otherwise;
  • plus six others directly on the same ‘amicus curiae’ and others including damages and costs.

But there is a window for that matter to be rectified if indeed there is a postponement of the trial to June/July, as our information is that there are other options facing the court, but which the prosecution, (one doesn’t know their standing, as information again says that is a matter that should involve the Attorney General) is strangely arguing against that judgment.

Posted in Court, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Cross-section-of-a-Corona-virus

The Corona Virus pandemic reaches the Caribbean

After BA Flight 2157 on Tuesday, March 10, could it be here in Montserrat? (What should we do?

BRADES, Montserrat, March 14, 2020 –  Over the past several days, first we learned that the Corona Virus had been confirmed in several regional territories. Then we learned how the UN Agency, the World Health Organisation, declared a pandemic – a globe-spanning epidemic.  Along the way, we heard of a Jamaican woman who flew home from the UK on March 4th to attend a funeral, and how authorities were taking steps to contain a possible outbreak. Since then schools have been closed as a second case then six more cases were diagnosed, totaling eight. Then,  it was confirmed that someone flying into Antigua from the UK on March 10 (on British Airways 2157), has been diagnosed with the virus.  Over eighty [80] passengers on that same aircraft came on their way to Montserrat, for the St Patrick’s Festival. (UPDATE: There is also a suspected case here, reported on ZJB.)

The Covid-19 virus attacks a cell,in an “isolate” from a patient(Cr: Australian Pharmacist & US CDC)

Suddenly, the Covid-19 Pandemic – global epidemic – is at our doorstep.

As a result:

After this news hit our airwaves on Friday, March 13th, a call went out for these passengers to contact health authorities.

On Saturday the 14th the recently elected Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell summarised this development, stated that the passengers were traced, contacted and told to self-isolate, adding that events with more than fifty people were restricted.

Many churches announced that worship services are suspended.

Schools (which often serve as places where viral infections spread rapidly) are closed until Friday, April 3.

Such measures are to be extended if necessary.

In effect, the 2020 St Patrick’s Festival has been shut down. That’s why promoters for some events then went on radio to announce the cancelation.

Covid 19 is indeed at our doorstep.

Cross-Section of a Corona Virus. In an infection, the S-protein spikes bind to cell surfaces, allowing penetration. The cell is then hijacked to replicate and distribute further copies of the virus using the RNA in the virus (Cr: Wiki & Scientific Illustrations)

What will we do?

Why did it take a case of possible transmission on an eight-hour transatlantic flight to trigger such measures?

(On the worst-case – let us hope, such will not be actual! – that could be shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.)

Especially as, before the event, prominent local Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Jean Kelsick publicly advised us all on February 28:

he virus has surfaced, is spreading and has already killed people . . . . Should our visitors introduce the virus to Montserrat

will have to face some very hard questions over any deaths that may ensue . . . .  the financial cost and disappointment to the island and visitors [if the Festival were to be canceled] would be very unfortunate but a price cannot be put on lives.”

We are now in danger of both possibilities, the worst of both worlds. For, on the facts admitted by Premier Taylor-Farrell, [a] visitors have come who may be exposed AND [b] we are forced to restrict gatherings of more than fifty people. That suggests, that we did not act with sufficient prudence in good time.

Now, given the Covid-19 incubation period of up to two weeks (or possibly more in some cases) we will have to wait to see if the epidemic is here already where this virus can be spread by people before they have obvious symptoms. Also, many mild cases may be confused with an ordinary cold or could even go unnoticed.

In a further complication, there seem to be two strains, L and S. As ABC reports[1]:

“Scientists from China said they’ve identified two strains of COVID-19 linked to the recent outbreak.  Coronaviruses are a large family of RNA viruses, and when RNA viruses replicate quickly, they often mutate. Researchers analyzed 103 sequenced genomes using strains from China, and found that 70% of strains were one type, which they called ‘L.’ The ‘L’ strain was more aggressive than the remaining 30% of strains, which were dubbed ‘S.’”

There is some suggestion that it is possible to catch one strain then the other, in addition to the familiar problem of relapsing if one has not fully recovered from an infection. NewScientist gives background[2]:

Viruses are always mutating . . . When a person is infected with the coronavirus, it replicates in their respiratory tract. Every time it does, around half a dozen genetic mutations occur, says Ian Jones at the University of Reading, UK. When Xiaolu Tang at Peking University in Beijing and colleagues studied the viral genome taken from 103 cases, they . . . identified two types of the virus based on differences in the genome at these two regions: 72 were considered to be the “L-type” and 29 were classed “S-type” . . . . The first strain is likely to have emerged around the time the virus jumped from animals to humans. The second emerged soon after that, says the team. Both are involved in the current global outbreak. The fact that the L-type is more prevalent suggests that it is “more aggressive” than the S-type.”

Further, in a preprint article for the New England Journal of Medicine,[3] researchers have confirmed that “viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to 3 hours post aerosolization, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel . . .   Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for  multiple hours and on surfaces up to days.”

These specific experimental results are generally consistent with earlier reports that the virus can survive in the air for hours and on surfaces for up to a week or more. That immediately means that we have to be particularly vigilant to protect ourselves. Pix 11 of New York summarises some typical advice[4]:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

A distance of 6 feet can protect you from droplet transmission via coughs and sneezes.

Stay home if you feel you are sick.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow, or cover [your mouth and nose] with a tissue and immediately wash or sanitize your hands.

They add the US CDC instructions on proper handwashing:

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

We can also note that for typical disinfectants, a “dwell time” of three to five minutes is advisable, to ensure maximum effect.

Of course, by definition a disinfectant can be hazardous, so we should follow instructions. Chlorine Bleach and Ammonia are particularly so, and must not be mixed. Mixing Bleach and detergents is also not advisable as chemical reactions that give off toxic gases are possible.

Alcohols are also toxic – yes, ethanol too . . . drunkenness is actually a first stage toxic reaction. Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol and Methanol (wood alcohol) should not be consumed; even though they look, taste and smell almost like White Rum. Again, follow instructions on the label.

Of course, a good newspaper is the people’s college, so we need to step back up to the policy level. Fair comment: twenty-five years ago, we were imprudent in managing the volcano crisis, often dismissing warnings as likely to cause a panic. Sometimes, we thought or even said that we needed to exercise faith that nothing bad would happen, trotting out scriptures on faith. On June 25, 1997, nineteen people died needlessly. Videos taken a few days before the fatal ash flows show people harvesting ground provisions in a field while hot ash ran down the ghaut next to them. Some of those people died in fatal flows.

We need a sounder approach: yes, we are to have faith and confidence and we must always pray, but we must also be well-informed, prudent and act in good time.


[1]           See ABC https://abcnews.go.com/Health/scientists-identified-strains-covid-19/story?id=69391954

[2]           See NewScientist https://www.newscientist.com/article/2236544-coronavirus-are-there-two-strains-and-is-one-more-deadly/

[3]           See van Doremalen of US NIH et al https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.09.20033217v1.full.pdf

[4]           See PIX11: https://www.pix11.com/news/national-news/coronavirus-how-to-protect-yourself-amid-covid-19-concerns

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Education, International, Local, Opinions, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Premier-Farrel-on-his-birthday-

Covid – 19 fears and doubts

by Bennette Roach

MOHS national influenza committee

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has evidently touched most of the world and has taken place in many headlines with coverage throughout each day. And Montserrat no less, as the call for more action out of concern and the accusation of mismanagement.

The month began with a release from the Government Information (GIU) that said Officials from the Ministry of Health, Port Authority, Integrated Border Security, Customs and Excise, the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS), Access Division, Airport and the Office of the Premier were engaged in the discussions.

These officials made up the National Influenza Pandemic and Preparedness Committee (NIPPPC) which had met to review the government’s action plan and risk mitigation for COVID-19, and to recap the evolving global and regional situation.

The release said that the NIPPPC discussed various scenarios and further actions and mitigation measures required from the various sectors, especially ahead of the St. Patrick’s festival; which is a high tourist season for the island. That the Ministry of Health is also in communication with local non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) such as Red Cross, The Montserrat Association of Persons with Disabilities and the Montserrat Senior Citizens Association; to ensure that the most vulnerable in the community are protected.

Since then a number of key exercises occurred including completion of training of emergency personnel in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), continued distribution of educational literature and continued training in handwashing and proper sanitation of special interest groups such as children and caretakers of the elderly. Situational updates and strategic response meetings also continue with local and regional partners; Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Public Health England. 

One writer on the matter got our attention: “After speaking to numerous infectious disease experts over the past few days, I’m starting to wonder: is our reaction to COVID-19 the exact reaction an adversary in an information war would hope for? Said differently: is the COVID-19 story the Information Age Pearl Harbor we’ve been expecting?

coronavirus cells…

Look at the trillions of dollars of value taken from the stock market. Look at the billions of dollars in canceled travel. Look at the interrupted supply chains. All of this for the “common cold” virus that, in truth, is deadly… but no more deadly than the flu. While the medical community will not definitively say what COVID-19 exactly is (or is not), according to the CDC, the WHO, and other credible sources, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is approximately the same as the flu, and young people are less likely to get it.

No one is less of a conspiracy theorist than I am. I’m not trying to minimize the pain and suffering caused by COVID-19. However, the more I learn about this disease, the less scared of it I get, and the more suspicious I get about the origin of the story. Is anyone else wondering about this?

Another story that caught our interest which spoke to the outbreak and how it began. It said, “Finally, you may have heard that although the disease is highly infectious, it is dangerous only to the elderly or to those who have a compromised immune system. The official lethality rate is approximately 2% or so… You will have been told that it is an influenza-like illness that can in severe cases cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death.

“All of that is a bunch of lies concocted by the Chinese state with the tacit support of the U.S. deep state and its friends in the European Union, Russia and Australia, and spread by the docile media in all of those countries…”

But on our search for the integrity and the veracity of the story, it turned out to be a well written false, ‘fake’ story. “Let them come. Let them do with me as they will. I no longer care,” the article concluded.

Soon, as the virus continued to spread to other countries first heard about in China and governments began to see this as a threat to the world’s economy and its existence; as stock markets tumbled and gatherings, sports, and cancellations of sporting games, festivals, closing of borders and travel severely curtailed, the Caribbean included and the fear of what is referred to as the dreaded virus, the Montserrat St. Patrick’s Day festivities came into focus.

Several hundreds of people began arriving with its problems of inoperable ferry trips because of high seas, the call for the consideration of canceling the festivities grew loud and louder doubts were expressed and whispers turned into questions directed at the Governor, Premier, and Ministers.

On February 28 Attorney at Law Jean Kelsick wrote to the Governor suggesting, “…immediate and serious consideration to whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.”

A few days later the Government released information as above about the formation of the NIPPPC. It was also after that the virus infestation grew and as we have shown mostly on our Facebook page and the website, St. Patrick’s celebrations and festivities were canceled. In Ireland, San Francisco, Boston, etc. and finally after biggest arrivals of guests for the Montserrat festival, and the announcement of the first confirmed case of the virus infection in neighboring Antigua, along with an announcement from Emerald Isle, N.C., (USA) which said: “Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival Cancelled.”

Social media lit up and the misinformation moved quickly. That got an announcement from the government, but it also brought the issue of Montserrat canceling its own festival more to the fore. That was yesterday, but it also increased the need for the possible cancellation of the festival; and, late today we received a copy of a letter signed by Dr. Lowell Lewis, the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and the Montserrat Bar Association. It called “…on Government to take immediate steps to bring the situation under control and make a prompt and full public statement on the matter.”

It noted 16 points outlining what they called, “government’s continued mismanagement of the coronavirus problem.” See the letter on page enumerating the concerns about the virus as it relates to Montserrat.

Premier Taylor-Farrell

In late news today, Premier Taylor-Farrell issued a statement updating plans to address the growing problem or concerns which evolved out the single reported case in Antigua.

The Premier sought to comfort residents that the plans are in operation. “Although Montserrat has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, my Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer and the entire Health Team have been working tirelessly to prevent, detect, manage and contain any potential outbreak in Montserrat as a matter of public health emergency,” he said.

He said his government is making sure that the right steps are being taken to try to prevent and minimize the impact of the virus. He stressed further: “I am keenly aware that Montserrat’s national security and economic prosperity require meaningful investment in public health security.  So, on my direction, the Government is deploying the full range of resources at our disposal to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Montserrat.”

He advised that people who have visited affected countries and subsequently developed symptoms of the coronavirus that they should stay at home and contact the Casualty Department at the Glendon Hospital on 491 2802 or 491 2836. See the letter here …

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, Legal, Letters, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Dr-Pet-Cameron

Congratulations on your award

by Bennette Roach

Montserratians living and working or studying in the USA and elsewhere continue to make great strides in their fields of work, studies, and education.

Dr. Pet Johnson-Cameron

Dr. Petronella Johnson-Cameron is one such person who has been teaching and mentoring students in the Master’s Program at Capella University, since January 2017. She has worked extensively with students to ensure success.

Dr. Petronella Cameron has been selected for the Outstanding Faculty Performance Award at Capella University, Minnesota. She met and exceeded the requirements in teaching in four components, Quantitative and Qualitative (the quality of feedback she provides for students) and the Education Chair overall approval.

Her work ethics and discipline had set her apart from other colleagues. She also was evaluated as a very effective and commendable professor by California State University Los Angeles in several components among these are, her delivery of instructions and engaging students.

With this background of achievements, Petronella Cameron Ph.D. boasts Early Childhood Education, Masters: Early Childhood Education, Child Development Program Director Permit,  Lecturer: Early Childhood Education, Division of Curriculum and Instruction, California State University Los Angeles. She is currently teaching graduate hybrid courses at several universities.  As Dr. Cameron continues to soar in education, she still continues to pursue her musical career as a classical pianist another ambitious initiative she wants to accomplish.

On February 13, 2020, Paul T. Busceni, EdD, Chair, P12 Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

School of Education, Capella University, wrote to Dr. Cameron:

“I am pleased to inform you that you are a recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Faculty of the Year award – Congratulations on your achievement!   You are receiving an award for your outstanding performance in GuidedPath (GP) for teaching.  You are receiving the award because you demonstrate excellence in three categories of considerations: quantitative metrics, qualitative data, and my overall evaluation.  Your performance met and exceeded expectations for GP teaching.”

Already, she receives notice, “While award recipients are not automatically renewed in the OFY process, as the pool of faculty changes in each evaluation cycle, I am confident that your strong performance will make you an eligible candidate for consideration,” the chairman wrote.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Education, International, Local0 Comments

Insert-3

Coronavirus: Schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland to shut

Reprint – from the Irish Times

Shutdown starts this evening and runs until March 29th, restrictions placed on gatherings

TMR Editor: With the banning of gatherings of travel all around the western world, and we can specify as it gets closer to home in many close ways, the UK and the US, questions are now looming and becoming somewhat vocal. What is the Montserrat, local government doing in the face of all that?

The next question with the announced preparations (for protection) the serious and important question is also asked, somewhere, ” Have any extra resources been allocated to Montserrat, by the UK out of the huge allocation towards this ‘pandemic’
Do we have the capability to test? Can we detect the disease?
If we cannot even detect the disease, how are we going to slow the spread?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new measures at Blair House, Washington DC, on Thursday. Photograph: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new measures at Blair House, Washington DC, on Thursday. Photograph: PA

Pat Leahy, Paul Cullen, Suzanne Lynch, Fiach Kelly

Schools, colleges and other public facilities are set to close in the Republic from this evening for at least two weeks in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking from Washington DC on Thursday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the measures being announced today would remain in place until March 29th and would be kept under review.

From 6 pm, schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close, Mr. Varadkar said. Cultural centres will also close, he said.

The Government is also banning indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

People should continue to go to work if they can, but those who are able to work from home should do so, he added.

Shops and supply chains will remain open, the Taoiseach said, and cafes and restaurants can remain open. He also said people should minimise social interaction where possible.

Public transport will continue to operate.

Mr. Varadkar did not comment on the US travel ban announced last night. The ban applies to visitors from most European states, but not Ireland.

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The Mater Hospital announced it is limiting activity to essential services from Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after the first death from coronavirus was recorded in the Republic.

In a statement on Thursday, the hospital said all outpatient appointments and elective surgeries would be “limited to essential services only until further notice”.

It said: “The Mater regrets the impact that this will have on our patients but these new arrangements are necessary in order to deal with the impact of Covid-19.”

Patients whose appointments are being deferred will be contacted by phone, the hospital said, adding every effort is being made to manage and control the spread of coronavirus.

“Our staff across every part of the hospital are carrying out Trojan work around the clock to deal with the virus, care for those infected and to protect and care for other patients in the hospital,” it said.

Visitor restrictions remain in place at the hospital. The only visitors allowed are those visiting patients in critical care, vulnerable young adults or those whose loved ones are receiving end-of-life care, the hospital said. No children are permitted to visit the hospital.

The public has been told to limit its social interactions and stop shaking hands with others as part of enhanced containment measures following the announcement of the first death from the disease.

The elderly woman had an underlying condition that was terminal and died on Wednesday at Naas General Hospital.

“The death took place in the last 24 hours. The diagnosis was part of the certification of the death of the individual,” chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan said on Wednesday night.

A number of other patients in hospital with the disease are understood to be seriously ill.

The National Public Health Emergency Team said on Wednesday evening that containment measures would now be enhanced. It asked members of the public to “consider how to limit your social interactions” and to “avoid indoor, crowded spaces”, shaking hands and “close personal contact”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) for the first time yesterday labeled the coronavirus a pandemic, adding Italy and Iran were on the front line of the disease and other countries would soon join them.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, Education, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Grand Central Terminal had fewer commuters than usual on a Monday morning after a state of emergency was declared amid confirmed coronavirus cases in New York.

Social Distancing May Be Our Best Weapon to Fight the Coronavirus

Reprint

In pandemics, as in war, we all need to do our part.

By Max Brooks

Mr. Brooks is the author of “World War Z.”

March 11, 2020

Grand Central Terminal had fewer commuters than usual on a Monday morning after a state of emergency was declared amid confirmed coronavirus cases in New York.
Grand Central Terminal had fewer commuters than usual on a Monday morning after a state of emergency was declared amid confirmed coronavirus cases in New York.
Credit…Brian Moss/Reuters

“Social distancing” might sound like an emotional phase in early adolescence (it certainly was for me) but in reality, it’s a public health term describing our best defense against the coronavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this pathogen can spread “between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).” That close contact has carried the virus across the planet, killing at least 4,000 people and infecting over 110,000 (that we know of). Until a vaccine — or even an effective treatment — can be developed, the best hope for protecting ourselves is slowing the spread of the disease. But how do we do that?

Travel bans are proving to be too little too late. It’s too easy to mistake the symptoms of coronavirus for a simple cold or flu. Even worse, since the virus can incubate for 14 days, carriers can spread it before they even know they’re sick.

We’ve already seen that happen in Washington State, where health officials believe some people were passing on their infections for up to six weeks. This long asymptomatic incubation period also renders airport screening ineffective. What’s the use of taking a passenger’s temperature if it’s going to be 98.6 degrees even when he or she is carrying the virus?

Likewise, protective gear such as masks and gloves works only if used correctly. Masks are supposed to be worn by sick people, or those caring directly for them. But when uninfected people wear hot, sweaty masks out in public, they will be more prone to touching their faces, which is also the Achilles’ heel of rubber gloves.

It doesn’t do any good to cover our hands if those hands are still touching infected surfaces before touching our eyes, nose or mouth. Those hands, gloved or ungloved, have to be sterilized in order to prevent transmission. Which is why washing hands is an important defense but by no means the only one.

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The best way to prevent “community spread” is to spread out the community. That means keeping people apart. No more handshakes, group photos and “free hugs” from those cosplayers at Comic-Con. In fact, it might mean no more Comic-Con for a little while, as well as no trade shows, concerts or any other events that draw a large crowd. This “disruption to everyday life” carries a huge financial risk — a risk of which I’m painfully aware.

I’ve built my career on the road, assembling a readership one handshake, hug and group photo at a time. I have a novel coming out this spring, and a speaking tour is vital to its success, as it has been for all my books. Now that tour might be canceled, and I’ve already had to pull out of two events. My book “Devolution” is about Bigfoot, and now I can’t even promote it in the Pacific Northwest.

But what is the alternative? Bring an infection home to my 93-year-old dad? Gather a large crowd in a room where they can all infect one another? As a writer who lives one book at a time, I’m the last person who should be practicing social distancing. But as a writer who roots my books in factual research, I know what history can teach us about community spread.

Editors’ Picks

Stocking Your Pantry, the Smart WaySorry, but Working From Home Is OverratedFor Me, Rewatching ‘Contagion’ Was Fun, Until It Wasn’t

In 1918, in Philadelphia, health officials ignored calls for social distancing and allowed a World War I victory parade to proceed. Within three days, all the hospital beds in the city were filled. Within a week, roughly 45,000 people were infected. Within six weeks, 12,000 were dead. The prospect of a repeat of that kind of mass manslaughter is frightening — especially when you consider that the 1918 influenza had a fatality rate of about 2.5 percent, compared to the 3.4 percent fatality rate for the coronavirus estimated by the World Health Organization.

We can learn a lot from history’s tragedies, but also from its triumphs. The plague that terrorized my generation, AIDS, was subdued by the same kind of public education, cultural flexibility and medical advances we need today. Back in the 1980s, when AIDS awareness tipped from denial to panic, our salvation didn’t come from a lab, but from a pamphlet. That piece of paper, “Understanding AIDS,” was mailed to almost every American home in 1988. Thanks to the pamphlet, along with a nationwide education offensive on safe sex, my generation learned that nothing, including love, was free.

RelatedOpinion | David Leonhardt: 7 Steps to Take Against the CoronavirusMarch 10, 2020Opinion | The Editorial Board: We Are Ignoring One Obvious Way to Fight the CoronavirusMarch 3, 2020N.Y. Creates ‘Containment Zone’ Limiting Large Gatherings in New RochelleMarch 10, 2020

We adapted then. We can adapt now. And we must. Just as in war, everyone has a role to play. If we all contribute to reducing community spread, we can buy enough time for science and industry to come up with a vaccine.

Does that mean hiding in a bunker with beans, bandages, and bullets? No, of course not. Panic is not preparation. Our plans should be guided by qualified experts like the C.D.C. We also have to keep a sharp eye out for the kind of stigmatization that harks back to the early days of AIDS.

Even before the virus started showing up throughout the United States, we’ve seen disgusting examples of what fear can do to the human spirit. In Southern California, a petition called for the closing of a largely Asian-American school district even though there was no evidence of any child being infected. In New York, an Asian woman wearing a face mask was assaulted by a man who called her “diseased.” Such panic-driven prejudice has no place in our war with the coronavirus.

Hopefully, if we all do our part now, we’ll soon be able to resume our lives, and go to such fun events as book signings, where I’ll be waving at you from seven feet away.

Max Brooks (@maxbrooksauthor), the author of “World War Z” and the forthcoming “Devolution,” is a senior nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Posted in Culture, Environment, Health, International, Local, News, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

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