Everything Caribbean

All fall down? Not necessarily!

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Like
Chinese (pardon the pun) water torture, the inexorable drip, drip, drip of
disturbing news from an ever-increasing number of countries around the world
continues. At last check, there were 48 countries with at least one case of the
novel coronavirus aka Covid 19. Of that 48, there were a total of 78, 497 cases
in China with 2, 746 deaths. There have been 19 deaths in Iran, 13 in Italy, 13
in South Korea, three in Japan, two in France and one in the Philippines, as
well as Japan. On Wednesday, Brazil reported its first case, and a day before
that, the Iranian Deputy Health Minister, Hiraj Harairchi, announced that he
had the dreaded Covid 19. It is scary!

By way of
information, here are the affected countries and their number of coronavirus
cases: Afghanistan (1), Algeria (1), Australia (23), Austria (2), Bahrain (33),
Belgium (1), Brazil (1), Cambodia (1), Canada (12), China (78, 497), Croatia
(3), Denmark (1), Egypt (1), Estonia (1), Finland (2), France (18), Georgia
(1), Germany (21), Greece (3), India (3), Iran (245), Iraq (6), Israel (3),
Italy (528), Japan (189 and 705) (that last figure represents those infected
aboard the Diamond Princess in Yokohama), Kuwait (43), Lebanon (2), Malaysia
(22), Nepal (1), North Macedonia (1), Norway (1), Oman (4), Pakistan (2), The
Philippines (3), Romania (1), Russia (5), Singapore (93), South Korea (1,766),
Spain (12), Sri Lanka (1), Sweden (2), Switzerland (4), Taiwan (32), Thailand
(40), United Arab Emirates (13), United Kingdom (15), United States (60),
Vietnam (16). (Source: Aljazeera News).

Mercifully,
we have not had any cases here in our fair State, and we certainly trust that
our health authorities will continue to be vigilant; that they will continue
taking proactive and preventative measures. We salute them for the good job
that they are doing, and certainly appreciate the frequent updates from the
Ministry of Health. Nothing will spread panic and fear like ignorance, and our
health authorities have been quite forthcoming.

The
denial to the Aida Perla cruise vessel of permission to berth here in St.
John’s was a good move, as is the plan to screen visitors from Italy. According
to the notes from this past Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting: The weekly charter which arrives
in Antigua from Milan, Italy, on Fridays, would usually drop-off 150 passengers
and pick-up 150 passengers from the week prior. That charter will arrive on
Friday, February 28, 2020, only to pick-up the last group that it discharged,
and will continue the fixed pattern in the following week. However, beginning
tomorrow, Thursday, and continuing during the days following, the several ministries
in Antigua, collaborating with the agents of the charter, will develop a
questionnaire that will be provided to passengers in Italy before alighting.
Any unwell passenger or a passenger who emanated from any of the cities that
are on a government quarantine list will not be allowed to board.”
Good move!Again, eternal vigilance is the
watchword! And so far, our health authorities appear to be on top of things.

Meanwhile, it was
rather disturbing to hear of a burglary at the Margetson Ward which is being
rehabilitated and retrofitted to serve as an isolation and quarantine centre.
We understand that several valuable pieces of equipment and material were
lifted, and we say, “a pox”on the
scumbags who stooped so low as to commit such a dastardly crime. Mind you, the
louse added insult to a rehabilitation effort that should have already been
completed. We are a little perplexed as to why it took our health authorities
so long to recognise that we were going to need an isolation and quarantine
location. Sigh! But better late than never, we suppose. 

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Actually, here is what
we were able to gather from the aforementioned Cabinet notes re the Margetson
Ward and the likelihood of an infected person(s) in our neck of the woods: “The expectation is that the refurbished ward
will be completed in two weeks (not four weeks); that the equipment necessary
to test for the virus and the lab technicians will also be in place in that
time; that the state’s readiness can be affirmed by the Pan American Health
Organisation (PAHO) which is providing leadership and advice to the states of
the region. The experts are of the view
that an infected person will, sooner or later, arrive in the region; each
country must therefore be prepared.
Adaptation and no longer mitigation
guides the decision-makers.”
Hmmmm! That second-to-last sentence in bold
print is rather unnerving, to wit, that it is not IF an infected person will arrive in the Caribbean, but rather WHEN. Heaven forfend! Help us, Lord!

Of course, the key is
not to panic. While there is no known cure for Covid 19, there are several
countries and scientists working feverishly to develop treatments. For example,
the University of Nebraska, under the auspices/sponsorship of the National
Institutes of Health in the United States, has begun clinical, controlled
trials to determine the efficacy of an antiviral drug called remdesivir in
Covid-infected adults. We wish them every success. Previously, we’d heard that
certain HIV drugs, in conjunction with cold and flu treatments, appeared to be
rather helpful. All well and good.

Noteworthily, most
people who contract the virus become mildly ill, but recover after a while. For
example, in China, more than 23,000 people who became infected have already
recovered. Again folks, the key is to wash hands frequently, and avoid touching
one’s nose and mouth. Much like the flu or the common cold, this respiratory
disease can be transmitted/contracted via sneezes and coughs. According to the
World Health Organisation, an infected person can avoid transmitting the virus
by refraining from spitting in public, and avoiding close contact with others,
if coughing and sneezing. Thankfully, Covid-19 is not an automatic death
sentence.

And speaking of death
sentences, we are reminded of the GREAT
PLAGUE
in England in 1665, where those who were infected with that terrible
disease, would carry posies of herbs in their pockets to ward off illness
(Herbal cures? Superstition?). Two of the symptoms of a plague-infected person
were red rashes about the face and body and constant sneezing and coughing,
followed by collapse and death. It is thought, in some circles, that the
popular children’s game and rhyme, RING
AROUND THE ROSIES,
that is still played and sung today, came from the
innocent children making fun of those who were manifesting the symptoms and
effects of the plague in England in the Middle Ages. If you’ll recall, that
rhyme says, “Ring around the rosies (the
red rashes) / A pocket full of posies / Achoo! Achoo! (the sneezes)/ All fall
down!

   
Our prayer is that the wider world, indeed our fair Antigua and Barbuda,
and our region, will not experience an outbreak of Covid-19 of pandemic
proportions, with all and sundry victims falling down.

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