Trinidad and Tobago Removes COVID-19 Testing entry requirement; prepares for monkeypox
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Travellers to Trinidad and Tobago will not require a negative COVID-19 test to enter the twin-island republic as of Friday (July 1).
Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, announced at Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing that he had been authorised by Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert, to announce that a negative PCR and/or antigen test will be no longer required from July 1.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, in a statement, welcomed the removal of the COVID-19 testing requirement, saying it is expected to result in quicker processing times at ports of entry and contribute greatly to the recovery of the tourism sector.
The ministry said it “looks forward to welcoming visitors, returning nationals and members of the Diaspora to Trinidad and Tobago as it continues to strengthen the tourism sector and facilitate the environment necessary for an exciting and unforgettable visitor experience”.
Meanwhile, Minister Deyalsingh said the Cabinet has agreed to proclaim monkeypox a dangerous infectious disease, under Section 103 of the Public Health Ordinance, with immediate effect.
It also approved an order to allow special measures to be taken in light of the emergency of the spread of the monkeypox under Section 6(1) of the Quarantine Act, Chap 28:05, allowing authorities to quarantine people entering Trinidad and Tobago with foreign travel history who are either a suspected or confirmed case of the virus.
“The Cabinet note and the decision under these two pieces of legislation also allow the minister to designate a facility specifically for the treatment and isolation of persons with monkeypox. We have taken a decision that the Caura facility (Caura Hospital) will be designated as the facility to isolate and treat any suspected or confirmed case of monkeypox,” the Health Minister said.
“We urge people to pay attention to the global issues surrounding monkeypox.”
US FDA: Omicron-specific boosters must target new strains
New COVID-19 booster shots should be tailored to target omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants as well as the original strain in order to give people the broadest possible protection, U.S. regulators advised drugmakers on Thursday.
According to the FDA, currently available vaccines have helped reduce the most serious outcomes caused by COVID-19, but the effectiveness of primary vaccination wanes over time against certain variants, including omicron. The first booster doses helped restore that protection, but the effectiveness is also waning.
The Biden administration needs to give drug makers enough time to develop and adapt the new booster in time for the fall and winter, which is why they made the decision in June.
Timing: Moderna told FDA’s advisory committee that it will take until late October or early November to create a vaccine targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Pfizer has already reported some success with a bivalent vaccine targeting the spike protein of the omicron BA.1 variant, and in a statement the company said it will have a BA.4/BA.5 vaccine ready to distribute to the world by early October 2022.
PFIZER ASKS FOR FULL FDA APPROVAL OF COVID PILL
Pfizer on Thursday announced it had submitted an application to receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid for use in high-risk individuals.
The FDA in December issued an emergency use authorization for Paxlovid to be used as treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children over the age of 12 who are at a high risk of developing cases that progress in severity.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and be highly unpredictable, we must remain vigilant in protecting those who are at greatest risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, as they remain vulnerable to potential hospitalization or even death,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
According to Bourla, recently gathered data had “reinforced” Paxlovid’s importance as an oral treatment for the coronavirus. Data from Pfizer’s Phase 2/3 studies indicated that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 88 percent when compared to placebos among non-hospitalized, high-risk patients.
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