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Infographic-as-of-April-24-2020

First COVID-19 Related Death Recorded on Montserrat!

by Bennette Roach

With earlier news that there were further delays for the arrival of long-overdue medical equipment and supplies critical to the management of COVID-19 response, to bring this week to end the Ministry of Health and Social Services sends this release with bad news.

It is dated today April 24, 2020, with follow-up contact being MoHSS Camille Thomas-Gerald, Permanent Secretary, and Epidemiologist Dorothea Hazel-Blake, Director of Health Care.

The release informs that “one resident has died from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19),” for which the Ministry of Health and Social Services is deeply saddened.

The deceased is an elderly female, aged 92 who was admitted to the Glendon Hospital COVID-19 Isolation Unit where her condition was assessed as severe. Since then she received aggressive respiratory support until the time of her passing today, Friday 24th April.  

The family of the deceased, who reportedly according to the protocols set by the MOH was not allowed to visit the elderly lady, has been formally notified by the Ministry.

The Ministry further reports that this death brings down Montserrat’s active cases to seven. To date, there have been 11 confirmed cases, two of which have recovered.

More updates and answers related to this is expected.

Posted in COVID-19, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Obituaries, Regional0 Comments

Premier-responds-Mar-25-press-conf-1

Crisis mode in Montserrat – can it get worse?

7-day complete shutdown among new government measures to contain COVID-19

Curfew extended to April 30th including a complete shutdown for seven days 

The lockdown/shutdown with curfews began on April 3, followed with a complete 7-day shutdown beginning on April 12 midnight. Now, this is to be extended for another ten days to April 30, with a three-day reprieve,  April 21-23, as the Government continues to take steps to contain and prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID19) on Montserrat.

We noted in the Premier’s weekly statement of April 15, Wednesday this week he corrected his Good Friday denial when he had said “…aware that not everyone carrying the virus, exhibit symptoms…the danger where persons who are asymptomatic are walking around affecting others.”

We just learned that the Premier will deliver a Statement on Saturday, April 18, when he will be interviewed! He will probably at that time outline the ‘new’ arrangements with the relaxation for the three days. But will there be information on the much needed medical supplies?

Premier Easton Taylor Farrell

In the new Statement, he says: “One of the major problems encountered by the Ministry of Health at this time is its inability to detect persons who might be roaming our streets and who might be COVID -19 positive, and are not displaying symptoms.  They can then spread the disease unknowingly infecting large portions of the population.”

So, going back, that was an admission of sorts, that was the reason for the complete shutdown which began on Sunday midnight.

Today the announcement comes of continued lockdown, perhaps not unsurprisingly, following the Premier’s observation in his Wednesday 15th Statement. “Presently, the data is showing Montserrat as having the highest number of cases per capita in the Caribbean; 15.25 cases per 10,000. Comparing to our neighboring island Antigua, with 23 cases (as of April 12) and their per capita 2.25 cases per 10,000; that’s how serious the situation is on this our beloved land.”

In that statement, he refers to the seriousness of “the situation’ which may have been most likely noted long before in the outside world and more importantly, Her Majesty’s Government (HMG/UKG). It might be in all’s best interest if the Premier and especially so, maybe the Governor might state ‘how’ serious the situation is.

He had also in that statement hinted that the seven-day complete shutdown would continue, “your government will continue to act to protect you the residents of this country and until then some measures will remain in place,” which also corrects his reference in his Good Friday’s statement to ‘citizens’. Enough time at the said press conference his attention would have been drawn to what might have been an oversight. That oversight could have resulted in behaviours which may have brought on some persons’ arrest.

In addition, the Premier’s statement highlighted an earlier comment in our ‘confirmed cases and recovery story’ where it is stated: “…wide-scale testing at this time…” a position created by their slothfulness even up to that point, shown up in the March 28 press conference.”

Here he says: “In order to reduce the spread of this virus within our minute population, your government must and will introduce measures, some may seem drastic, but must be implemented when required—your health is our number one priority!”

Drastic measures were already being taken, but we had sought to enquire about how informed was their implementation.

“We must and we will take the bull by the horn and act on the side of caution,” the Premier said and then he talked about the key problem.

“Large scale testing required – Acquiring a testing machine is extremely high on the agenda of the Ministry of Health, and the staff there, are working with different agencies on every front to secure it.”

On March 28, there were the soft excuses given to our question about financing for these very important things, (to the safety of our health, Governor), which if were taken into perspective weeks before would have seen different and easier management of “the situation”.

There was already knowledge that other OTs through support had testing equipment. Today Montserrat is while still waiting, will perhaps be the last to be able to get up to some semblance of control.

Some nearer OECS countries and OTs had already received training in the use of these equipment and the question looms large whether or not Montserrat, as our earlier headline suggested, was concerned early enough what was expected.

Now it appears that no testing is the reason no one can get a direct response as to how the ‘tracing’ is done. In Antigua, it was reported that ‘rigorous testing’ was carried out on a Montserrat passenger arriving on the ferry. What testing was being done then in Montserrat?

The continued lockdown and ensuing curfew will now continue until May 1, clearly no expectation to have equipment available to carry out tests that will at this time assess how deep transmission has been effected.

With no early available testing, there is the obvious void and cause of fumbling in answer to certain questions. The only plan to effect the containment of transmission of COVID-19 was “stay at home”, don’t break the curfews and as usual the penal messages spout.

See story on ‘slothfulness’ surrounding the lack of testing equipment and other medical supplies

Extended Lockdown

The release announcing the further shutdown reveals that “On Monday, April 20 to Wednesday, April 22, supermarkets, banks, and money transfer services, petrol stations and bakeries will be allowed to open for members of the public to access these services and conduct shopping within specified hours…the island will shut down again from 12:00a.m. on Thursday, April 23 to Friday, May 1, at 12:00a.m.”

“Shopping at the supermarkets will be conducted in alphabetical order to provide for smaller groups to access these businesses places and to ensure that social distancing is maintained.”

New or different arrangements are to be announced for the shopping directives, recalling that on Good Friday, April 10, no surprise, there was uncertainty as to how the plans for shopping would be exercised. This, it is also believed was partly responsible for curfew hours maintenance to be irregularly managed by residents who were also denied the availability of public transportation, where bus owners were told to stay off the roads as there are no tourists. But according to the Premier, they would suffer no loss and will be taken care of financially.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, International, Local, News0 Comments

COVID19-Report-April-17

Active cases down one, with second person recovered

as of April 17, 2020

With the Royal Montserrat Police Force (RMPS) boasting and becoming it seems the most important agency in the fight against COVID-19, with the emphasis on containment in the unknown or the most serious method of transmission, they announce and give a breakdown of the 46 arrests they have made since the Health Act began to show its emergency powers.

Today, the Ministry of Health in its most recent release via the Government Information Unit says, “A second person has fully recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Montserrat.”

The release explains confirmation by CARPHA after investigating “seven (7) local samples which included five (5) follow-up swabs from confirmed cases and two (2) suspected cases. These latest results mean that Montserrat’s active, on–island cases have now decreased to eight (8), and recoveries have increased to two.

Unfortunately, with the police saying the 46 arrests they have made between March 28 and April 14, it is bothersome that between those dates there were two newly confirmed cases of infected persons with the virus. More worrisome was, that the Premier in his statement and subsequent press conference on Good Friday said that the reason for imposing a complete shutdown as of April 12 from midnight was, being “…aware that not everyone carrying the virus, exhibit symptoms…the danger where persons who are asymptomatic are walking around affecting others.”

He provided no evidence for this and even denied that was what he said. That was preceded with the excuse, “The Ministry of Health is unable to undertake wide-scale testing at this time…” a position created by their slothfulness even up to that point, shown up in the March 28 press conference.

According to the police, the most arrests occurred on April 11, (Saturday after Good Friday) when 15 persons were arrested.  A further breakdown of the arrests during this period is as follows: 18 arrests were made between March 28 to April 8; three arrests on April 10; two arrests on April 2 and 4 arrests on April 13 and 14. Between March 28 and April 8, the police had to issue 12 warnings, which included two juveniles.

Sounding like a boast with no new cases, “All 46 arrests will advance to court on breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression) (no 2) Order S.R.O. 22 of 2020 (those before April 13), and breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Shelter in Place) Order 25 of 2020, for those arrested after 12:00 a.m on April 13.

While no matter the size of the population 46 arrests within that space of time, statistically is considerable, though the demography may be an important consideration. It would be interesting to learn the reasons being proffered by these persons for their suspected infractions. It may not surprise that some of those reasons may be the shortcoming of how the whole situation is being managed.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Government Notices, International, Legal, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

COVID19-Report-April-12

Montserrat increases its Caribbean record as the highest per capita (10000) as it records two new cases and one recovery

As of April 12, 2020

Press Release: April 12, 2020 – GIU, Davy Hill, Montserrat

Montserrat has recorded its first full recovery; while two persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has received the results of eight samples recently dispatched to CARPHA Reference Laboratory for testing.  The results returned with two (2) of the eight (8) samples, testing positive for COVID-19.

The new positives include one hospitalized individual while the other is in self–isolation at their residence.

Among the six (6) samples testing negative was the second repeat test of one of the islands previously confirmed cases. This means that this individual is Montserrat’s first full recovery from COVID-19.

Therefore, Montserrat has recorded 11 confirmed cases overall—10 confirmed cases on the island, nine of which are active cases, as one has now recovered.

While the recovery of one patient represents a win in the fight against COVID-19, the Ministry noted that the battle is far from over. Residents of Montserrat are therefore advised to remain aware of the symptoms of the disease, and to contact the St. Peter’s Clinic at 491- 5436 or 496-9724 or the Glendon Hospital Casualty Department at 491-2802 or 491-2836 should they experience fever, cough, difficulty breathing or any other ‘flu-like’ symptoms.

The public is also encouraged to continue to practice the highly effective public health measures of hand hygiene, social distancing and cough etiquette, and to strictly adhere to the seven (7) day full lockdown which commences tomorrow Monday, April 13 at 12:00 a.m.   These measures will keep us all safe from COVID-19.

Posted in COVID-19, Featured, Government Notices, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

reaction-to-Mar-25-press-conf-question

Was it soon enough?

by Bennette Roach

By March 20, 2020, the Government would begin to introduce some and almost belatedly many of the suggestions made in that now infamous letter.

MoHSS preparedness and planning committee/team (from GIU photo)

On March 24 Montserrat’s second case was confirmed and on March 26 three additional cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in Montserrat to five –Five cases are too many in our small population. (But so is one dead from dengue fever)

Following the first sign of the Montserrat government taking some action in concern about the COVID-19 when they signed their first Order under the Public Health Act on March 13, 2020, on Saturday when they published the said Order, the Ministry of Health (MoHSS) issued a press release in which it informed: “…are reviewing (arriving) visitors who were on the same flight as the confirmed case in Antigua. Today, March 14th, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, announces that as part of contact tracing following yesterday’s reported case in Antigua, that there is one (1) suspected case of COVID-19 in Montserrat.”

The release added that the MoH “…has made contact with around 60% of persons that came to Montserrat who were on the same flight as the reported case in Antigua, asking that, “Those persons and any other members of the household have been asked to ‘home quarantine…” That number of passengers was later confirmed at 104.

In an unprecedented move, it being Sunday, the Government issued a release that said, “GoM is advising visitors to the island, to rearrange their flights and depart earlier than they may have initially planned.”

The only visitors who were not yet on the island of the thousands expected would have been those from neighbouring islands who would have come for the 16-17th celebrations. Meanwhile, the suspected case of COVID-19 “individual is currently under home isolation,“ the release stated.

Premier Farrell, CMO Duberry and D. Hazel

The Premier’s next pronouncement was his St. Patrick’s Day message where he reiterated the cancellation of the Festival and further events. “…remind you of the significance of this day for us here…Many are captivated by the annual celebrations which accompany our St. Patrick’s Festival. However, we know the ongoing public health emergency has affected our usual St. Patrick’s festivities.  Of course, you will all appreciate that the actions are taken to cancel the St. Patrick’s festival in the best interest of all of us — Public Health is Paramount.”

Meanwhile, the ECCB revealed: “On the recommendation of the ECCB Board of Directors, the Monetary Council of the  Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has approved grant funding, in the sum of EC$4.0m (EC$500,000 each), to the ECCB Member Governments, to help in their fight against the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19…

It is uncertain whether GoM has publicly acknowledged or has said how that money was spent, considering the lame discussions that have taken place since then about money, particularly when Governor Pearce a week later misconstrued a question as to how they were accessing funds for the crisis, when promises were made to compensate or to assist employers and workers in the shutdown that had been seen necessary to avoid transmission of the virus.

The next release from the government since Sunday was one where, “The Government of Montserrat has made provisions for discretionary leave, and has issued a flexible working arrangements policy for public officers, in light of the March 13, 2020 decision to limit gatherings of more than 50 persons, and to close schools for the period 16th March to 3rd April, 2020.” Schools should be on Easter vacation for the next couple weeks

On the 19th MoH activated a 24-hour service exclusively to treat and manage persons with flu-like symptoms. “This will aid in the identification of persons infected with COVID- 19 as opposed to the other respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu…” a release explained.

That was followed with another call on visitors to leave this time with the offer that, “In light of the evolving global pandemic, major airlines are cutting back flights…To accommodate travelers who are willing to re-schedule their flights, airlines have removed change fees on bookings, so persons can amend their travels without additional fees or charges…” and that the same would “to the Montserrat Ferry Service and airline tickets between Montserrat and Antigua.”

A hastily planned press conference was called that same day, which TMR was not represented for more than questionable circumstances which may be mentioned later.

Premier Joseph Farrell

A long statement was presented at that press conference where Premier Farrell after noting “the first case might have caused some anxiety and that is a natural response,” noting also, “The commitment from the UK Government to Montserrat remains strong.”

He then announced Government “are in constant communication with the United Kingdom Government and Public Health UK, as well as regional partners including OECS, CARICOM, CARPHA, ECCB, (ECCB had previously announced grant funds, still no acknowledge to a decision he would have been part of, or privy to) so that we can continue to take the appropriate steps to minimize the threat of the virus to the country (already here) and reduce risk to citizens, residents and visitors.”

He said, “Government is in continuous dialogue with local stakeholders with the intention of further improving the COVID-19 response plan,” which “includes the social, economic and fiscal arrangements for dealing with this global pandemic.”

He announced further, some of the specific support, adding that he had instructed the Ministry of Finance in January 2020 to immediately release funds to the Ministry of Health for the purchase of medical equipment, protective clothing, and supplies, in preparation for any impending COVID-19 cases as Phase I of our preparation.

Finally, he announced further restriction of: public gatherings from 50 to 25;

a 14 day quarantine period for anyone traveling to Montserrat; a reiterated prohibition of visits to public and private homes of the elderly;

the self-isolation of elderly persons aged 70 and over with the provision for family and community members and Health authorities to provide support where necessary; and guidance that everyone adheres to ongoing Public Health Advice and precautions around social distancing and personal hygiene.

Donaldson Romeo, MLA member

Earlier that day, March 19, we received a Statement from former Premier Donaldson Romeo now opposition member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) with a note that this was following up on exchanges he has had with the Governor and by copy to the Premier. He complained: “His Excellency Andrew Pearce, Montserrat’s British-appointed Governor, and Montserrat’s elected Premier, Hon Taylor are fumbling, unprepared and ill-equipped, weeks behind the curve of the crisis, in a country that has been over-exposed to the virus after a big influx of visitors to the St. Patrick’s festival.”

He pointed out: “Many countries have declared a state of emergency in an effort to enforce a greater level of isolation, slow the spread of the coronavirus, and eventually wipe it out.”

He explained his statement citing several examples of action worldwide, pointing specifically, “the Monetary Council (on which our Hon Premier sits), and which on Sunday, March 15 declared that the best action to minimize economic fallout from COVID-19 is containment supported by personal responsibility combined with proactive, and where needed, aggressive public policy”.

He pointed to the fact, “The Government of Montserrat and the Governor turned a deaf ear to appeals to cancel the St. Patrick’s festival, and went ahead with the celebrations as usual, attracting more than 2,500 plus visitors to the island, and increasing its population by 50%.”

He questioned, “Will His Excellency Governor Pearce and our Hon Premier Taylor supported by HMG, consider calling a State of Emergency?” Then he quoted the UK Chancellor, “We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together.”

What Romeo did not say is that he had not had any ear to his suggestions from H E and the Premier he had secured promises from the UK that support was waiting to be accessed. His statement was headed, “To be or not to be worthy of “Small Acts of Kindness”

Reacting out of view to questions from the press

Since that week, through today, there have been reports of more and suspected cases and confirmed cases, including one individual, who was tested, but who had left the island while test results were pending. Only one person remained hospitalized as shown on the front page graph, while others are questionably sent into “home quarantine.”

Donaldson Romeo’s Statement…

The British Chancellor declared today:

“We want to look back on this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back on this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency. We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together.”

These are heartwarming words indeed, and Montserratians are waiting to know whether the Chancellor’s “we” includes us in the British Overseas Territories.

As we wait, we in Montserrat hold fast to the Hand of God that has been, and will continue to be, a Present Help in trouble to all those, governments and people around the world, willing to work together for the common good.

“Just over a week later The British Prime Minister, like other leaders around the world, has finally ordered strict bans and provided considerable funding to address the medical dilemma and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, His Excellency Andrew Pearce, Montserrat’s British-appointed Governor, and Montserrat’s elected Premier, Hon Taylor are fumbling, unprepared and ill-equipped, weeks behind the curve of the crisis, in a country that has been over-exposed to the virus after a big influx of visitors to the St. Patrick’s festival.

Just days ago the USA issued its strongest travel advisory, level 4, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

Apart from the USA, many countries in the Caribbean and around the world experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks have implemented travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines. Some have closed borders and denied entry to non-citizens. Many cruise operators have suspended operations or canceled trips. So have airlines, leaving travelers stranded and some businesses at a standstill.

Many countries have declared a state of emergency in an effort to enforce a greater level of isolation, slow the spread of the coronavirus, and eventually wipe it out. Last week the Governor of Missouri, Michael Parson, declared a state of emergency when only two cases were found (out of a population of 6 million!). Why? To better control the level of people’s isolation, and to be allowed to waive certain state laws and regulations as needed to deal with the public health crisis. In addition, the declaration of a state of emergency permits the state to access extra funds and take additional actions to respond to the growing public health emergency.

According to statistics coming from Imperial College, London, if strict social distancing is observed, the UK can expect around 20,000 people to die over the course of a year, as opposed to up to 10 times as many (200,000) if strict social distancing is not practiced.

Previously the UK Government was slow to take drastic measures, simply requesting that people avoid unnecessary social contact, and businesses were not required to close. Today (Friday, March 20) Pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and many other venues across the UK were ordered to close, in a bid to slow the spread of COVID 19.

According to the online Guardian newspaper, the British Government “will cover 80% of the salaries of retained workers up to £2,500 per month, and defer the next quarter of VAT payments due from businesses”. It will also provide “£6 billion of extra support for the welfare system.” The scheme, says Metro, another London paper, “will run for at least three months but can be extended if necessary and will have ‘no limit’ of funding.”

With these examples of what Governments around the world (and the British Government in particular) are doing, the Government of Montserrat is still in go-slow mode, with lightweight measures banning gatherings of more than 25 persons and only asking passengers arriving on Montserrat to self-isolate for 14 days. Apart from paying public servants five days early, there is no mention of assistance to the unemployed or to struggling businesses and people who have, for the past 25 years, been living, fighting to rebound from a volcanic crisis.

And that despite the strong advice coming from our own EC Dollar Monetary Council (on which our Hon Premier sits), and which on Sunday, March 15 declared that “the best action to minimize economic fallout from COVID-19 is containment supported by personal responsibility combined with proactive, and where needed, aggressive public policy”.

What is particularly worrying is that Montserrat’s only hospital is already short of equipment and staffing to deal with specialist medical conditions in normal times, never mind handling large numbers of the respiratory and other complications that would come with a COVID 19 pandemic. Since there is no testing equipment on the island, samples must be flown more than 400 miles to Trinidad to be tested, with a turnaround time for results of 2 to 3 days. Therefore, one cannot tell in good time whether medical staff, or those with symptoms, or who have had contact with an individual, are carrying the virus or not.

The Government of Montserrat and the Governor turned a deaf ear to appeals to cancel the St. Patrick’s festival, and went ahead with the celebrations as usual, attracting more than 2,500 plus visitors to the island, and increasing its population by 50%.

On March 10, BA flight 2157 brought 300 plus passengers from London to Antigua. One of these passengers tested positive for the coronavirus – Antigua’s first confirmed case. Of the 80 passengers from the same flight that came on to Montserrat, one eventually also tested positive, becoming the island’s first COVID-19 patient.

No doubt taking their cue from the Government’s timid approach to social distancing and to severely restricting travel into Montserrat, parties, bars, restaurants and many other venues and social gatherings continued as per usual throughout and after the festival period.

Many continue to argue that the Governor (constitutionally responsible for leading out in disaster management and mitigation, as well as security), and Montserrat’s elected Government, need not have taken such a gamble with lives. After all, because of prolonged economic stagnation since the volcanic crisis, HMG is already providing 60% of Montserrat’s recurrent budget and over 90% of its capital expenditure.

Not to mention the fact that in keeping with UN article 73, Montserrat is entitled to be treated as a priority recipient of aid from the UK Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget of over £12 billion (0.07% of UK’s GDP, totally separate from, and therefore not affecting, domestic spending). More to the point, many Montserratians fear a repeat of the belated and inadequate aid they have received since the beginning of the ongoing 25-year volcanic crisis.

So while the British Prime Minister, like other leaders in the Caribbean and around the world, enforces stricter bans on social distancing and promises billions of pounds in aid to British people and businesses, Montserratians are left, avoidably ill-equipped and vulnerable, to face an unprecedented pandemic. Our government has been hesitating instead of taking the radical action required to slow contagion, to provide adequate emergency health care, as well as measures for mitigating the inevitable social and economic impact of this new threat.

Will His Excellency Governor Pearce and our Hon Premier Taylor supported by HMG, consider calling a State of Emergency? When will they take the advice of our own Monetary Council and act swiftly to save lives and “to minimize economic fallout from COVID-19 containment supported by personal responsibility combined with proactive, and where needed, aggressive public policy”?

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, COVID-19, Featured, Health, International, Local, News0 Comments

cudjoe-head-silk-cotton-tree-lighted-torch-DSC_1503-w

St. Patrick’s Day festivities abandoned after a ‘rainy’ opening night

by Bennette Roach

Children steelpan players opened the night

From March 14, for the records and because there had been no issue of a newspaper except posts online and on TMR’s Facebook page, we present briefs of matters relating to that as related to Montserrat especially as COVID-19 gripped and crippled activities, be it faith worship, entertainment, all matters relating to the economy, and more.

Ever-present MC Basil Chambers
Ch’man Trixie Duberry welcome addresses
Fr. Vyphius opens with prayers
Festival queens make an appearance and address
Vernare Bass

Some St. Patrick’s Day Festivities events had already taken place. Recall the opening of the St. Patrick’s Festival which kicked off Friday, March 6 to run until Wednesday, March 18. One report stated, “The events selected to run from March 11 to the 18th when most people are slated to be on the island.”

There were several festival entertainment events and shows close to one hundred of them scheduled to take place on March 6 through March 18. See the calendar. Much had taken place through March 13 already, before the action of limiting gatherings as of March 14: To list a few: Mountain a Glow Exhibition, National Museum, Little Bay.

St. Patrick’s Festival Torch Lighting Ceremony – Silk Cotton Tree, Cudjoe Head; Junior Calypso Competition; National Awards – Cultural Centre; MSS Heritage Day; Heritage Bus Tour of Cultural & Historic sites; The Montserrat Action Movement “Together We Strive” – Family Fun Day; St. Patrick’s Lecture – See a special report on page 6.

Bethel School Reunion – Night of Entertainment – Salem Park; Girls Invasion Pt. 2; St. Patrick’s Business Expo –Top Notch Promotions – St. Patrick’s Beach Fete – Old Road Bay

The early shows:

National Trust/ 50th Anniversary Flower Show & Tea Party and Hat Parade – Salem ($20); Bethel School Reunion Banquet & Awards Ceremony – Cultural Centre; Leprechaun’s Revenge & Breakfast Fete – Leprechaun’s Valley; Farmer’s Market – Salem School; Kevin West Water Colour Exhibition & Book Launch; Olde School Ball to Benefit Meals on Wheels – Vue Pointe Hotel.

All of the remaining shows and events were canceled on top of those postponed from even before the start of the festival.

St. Patrick’s Church Annual Dinner, with ‘no gathering law’ -Vue Pointe Hotel (Pick Up – Take away ONLY) with the Church service as were all church services since then canceled.

The symbolic lighted torch at the entrance corner to Cudjoe Head

Posted in COVID-19, Featured, Local, Regional, TOURISM, Youth0 Comments

COVID-WhatsApp-Image-2020-03-20-at-5.36.37-PM

Lockdown fighting COVID-19

Read full print at: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/

LOCKDOWN, is what all countries including tiny Montserrat, with the variations, are expecting, rather than hoping, will speed the COVID-19 pandemic away.

Govt planing for Lockdown

Montserrat (Government of Montserrat (GoM) was slow in arriving to where it has come, facing varying and differing criticism that action was not taken to cancel, or best, postpone the St Patrick’s Day festival.

In TMR’s January 24, 2020 issue a page was dedicated to the World Health Organisation (WHO and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) who were already closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus in China. There we exhibited a full cover of What is Happening; The Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Its Symptoms and How it spreads; How to protect one’s self and others; and Reducing the Risks of Infection and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

With all that has taken place since up to the point where we headlined COVID-19 fears and doubts in the March 13, 2020 issue, it was indeed that and little else. At that point as of January 21, 2020, the Chinese had reported they had 291 confirmed human infections with three (3) deaths. At that point, the USA was actively screening incoming travelers from china and exported cases have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

On March 13 TMR published a letter that followed a previous letter by Attorney Jean Kelsick suggesting the cancellation of the festivities. The second letter came from a wider representation of the public, former Chief Minister, Chief Medical Officer, surgeon specialist of international renown, with over 40 years and renewed qualified experience in public health, Dr. Lowel Lewis, Montserrat Chamber of Commerce (MCCI), and the Bar Association. 

In that Kelsick previous open letter to Governor Pearce and Premier Farrell, he called on them, reminding, “You both have a profound duty to the people of Montserrat and its children, in particular, to give 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.  Should our visitors introduce the virus to Montserrat both of you will have to face some very hard questions over any deaths that may ensue.”

He then asked: 

Has a proper travel advisory been issued to all persons traveling to Montserrat informing them that if they come from a location known to have positive cases and develop flu-like symptoms they should stay at home; be assessed by a physician at home and if treatment or inpatient care is required they should contact a member of our public health team for verification and instructions on what should be done until the fever or any signs of infection have abated?

Has an adequate public health education programme been implemented locally reminding people, and especially children and the elderly, of protective measures for persons with flu-like symptoms and fever, such as washing hands, covering your mouth and face when coughing etc?

What contingency plans are in place for managing confirmed cases and can Montserrat’s already beleaguered healthcare system, that can hardly cope with the resident population in normal circumstances, also cope with visitors who may succumb to the virus while here?

 That 2nd letter began by expressing the opinion and accusing the government of mismanaging “the Coronavirus problem.” It suggested the immediate requirement of funds, the reality that Montserrat did not have the capability of treating a single case, which appeared within a week later.

Today, the world reels from COVID-19 with the World Health Organization  (WHO)  as of Friday, March 27, 2019, reporting 462,684 coronavirus cases worldwide. The number of cases in the US has jumped considerably, to 63,570, according to WHO. As the virus spreads across the world, government and healthcare workers are looking for ways to not only treat the disease but stop the spread of the virus.

The festivities had opened on the evening of March 6, but It was not until people had already arrived in hundreds, on March 13, 2020, when the Farrell administration signed an Order, “Public Health (COVID-19) Regulations S.R.O. 15 of 2020”, to deal with Prevention of the spread of COVID-I9 and specifically large gatherings.

It wasn’t until the following day, Saturday that the Order was publicised giving rise for cries of corruption, what drew ire from the public, particularly those who would then be unable to put on shows, etc. for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities which had already begun.

“Large gatherings” means a gathering of more than 50 people was described further in the Order:

(1) A large gathering for a social, spiritual or recreational activity including, but not limited to, community; civic; public; leisure; faith-based; sporting event; parade; concert; festival; convention; fundraiser and similar activity is prohibited.

(2) The prohibition under subparagraph (l)-

(a) does not apply to a large gathering at a customs airport and a customs port; and

(b1 expires 3 April, 2020;

with, of course, a Penalty: “A person who breaches these regulations is liable to a fine of $500 or imprisonment for 3 months.”

Posted in COVID-19, Environment, Featured, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

UNICEF-Advice-in-brief-web

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

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

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