British Virgin Islands Representative Calls on UK to Respect Self-Determination and Seeks New Partnership
By Negilla 'Keena' Cenac, KNC Radio
In a recent development, Benito Wheatley, the Special Envoy of the Premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), made a compelling call for the UK to abandon colonialism and uphold the democratic rights and self-determination of the BVI. Wheatley expressed his gratitude to Indonesia for hosting a significant decolonization seminar, where he stressed the importance of sharing updates on the territory's progress for consideration in UN resolutions.
A key demand from the BVI is the removal of the order in council, which has the power to suspend their constitution, and Wheatley emphasized the need for a fresh partnership with the UK, grounded in mutual respect and responsibility. He also acknowledged the crucial role played by the UN in supporting sustainable development and climate resilience in the BVI.
During the seminar, Wheatley highlighted that the primary aspect of decolonization in the British Virgin Islands involves a change in their political status, underscoring the territory's financial self-sufficiency since 1978. The urgent removal of the order in council is seen as essential to respecting the BVI's right to self-determination.
Furthermore, Wheatley placed significant emphasis on the democratic right of the British Virgin Islands to elect their representatives, while also outlining the new government's mandate to continue reforms and work towards a diversified, low-carbon economy. He labeled the UK's imposition of the Order in Council and Reserve as undemocratic and unnecessary, expressing hope for a reconsideration and removal of these measures.
The BVI is striving for a renewed partnership with the UK, based on mutual respect and responsibility, while simultaneously working towards achieving full self-government. Wheatley's acknowledgment of the UN's support in promoting sustainable development and climate resilience in non-self-governing territories like the BVI further underscores the importance of international cooperation.
Throughout the event, Wheatley repeatedly emphasized the significance of collaborative efforts to achieve the political aspirations of the British Virgin Islands, working hand-in-hand with the government and its people. Notably, the joint efforts displayed during the COVID-19 pandemic have exemplified the strength of this partnership and its potential for future progress.
Here's the link to the Youtube Video where you can watch the full speech.
In Rio de Janeiro, bold swimmers have been discouraged from diving into the cold ocean, while Sao Paulo authorities had to open up subway stations to accommodate homeless people as Brazil’s south experienced unusually low temperatures on Friday.
Temperatures on Friday morning dropped below 23 Fahrenheit (-5 Celsius) in Santa Catarina state, covering several municipalities with a thin layer of snow. Earlier this week a fierce hailstorm scared residents of Rio’s west zone. For many Brazilians, accustomed to more clement weather in the tropical South American country, such events are considered extreme.
Earlier this week, authorities in Rio Grande do Sul, canceled soccer matches, closed public buildings early and suspended classes in schools and universities due to fears of major disruptions. There, nearly 182,000 homes were left without electricity on Tuesday.
Temperature began to drop earlier this week as tropical Cyclone Yakecan approached, before being downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday.
Weather forecasters said the cold wave is trapped by a storm in the country’s South and will extend into next Tuesday, while the Navy expects that 4-meter (13 foot)-tall waves could continue to hit Rio’s shores until Friday night.
Since the cold wave hit Brazil, at least one man has died of hypothermia in Sao Paulo. Some subway stations remained opened on Friday to protect homeless people and charity groups were out delivering soup and blankets to those in need.
Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology predicted strong winds all Friday between the cities of Rio and Curitiba, 510 miles (820 kilometers) to the south.
A series of earthquakes has been detected in the Caribbean in the last 12 hours, with the latest one recorded at magnitude 5.1 on Saturday morning.
The epicenter of the magnitude 5.1 earthquake was located at 288km North-Northeast of Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis, according to the UWI Seismic Research Centre.
The earthquake was also felt in nearby cities of Antigua and Barbuda, and Guadeloupe.
Hours before the magnitude 5.1 happened, light to moderate earthquakes measuring from magnitudes 3.8 to 4.9 were also detected clustered in the same area as the strong earthquake’s location.
On Friday, a 4.2 magnitude earthquake shook the island of Trinidad and Tobago.
Residents from the islands have begun speculating on what these series of earthquake mean to their islands, and the Center was quick to clarify that the data “just means a release of energy along the fault line at that location.”
The UWI Seismic Research Centre urges residents to visit their website and notify them if the earthquake was felt in their area.
In the last two years, the Caribbean has witnessed three major earthquakes.
Two were in 2020, when a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit Jamaica, Cuba, and Cayman Islands and a magnitude 6.4 in Puerto Rico.
And then in 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck an already ailing Haiti a little more than a month after its president’s assassination.
Haiti is not stranger to strong earthquakes. In 2010, Haiti was decimated by a magnitude 7 earthquake that killed more than a hundred thousand people.
The Caribbean experiences more earthquakes because this region sits along the fault lines of the Caribbean plate.
“The region has high seismicity and a history of high magnitude earthquakes, including a magnitude 7.5 earthquake centered northwest of Puerto Rico in 1943 and magnitude 8.1 and 6.9 earthquakes north of Hispaniola in 1946 and 1953, respectively,” the NOAA Ocean Exploration explains.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with countries where cases of the rare viral disease monkeypox have been reported, the UN agency said on Friday. The UN agency said in a statement that there were around 80 cases confirmed so far, across 11 countries, with a further 50 cases pending investigation.
Monkeypox occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but outbreaks have emerged in other parts of the world in recent days. Symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
WHO said it was “working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease.”
The UN health agency stressed that monkeypox spreads differently from COVID-19, encouraging all people “to stay informed from reliable sources, such as national health authorities” on the extent of any outbreak in their own communities.
WHO said in an earlier news release at least eight countries are affected in Europe – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
No Travel Link
Hans Kluge, Europe Regional Director for the UN agency, said the cases are atypical, citing three reasons.
All but one, are not linked to travel to endemic countries. Many were detected through sexual health services and are among men who have sex with men. Furthermore, it is suspected that transmission may have been ongoing for some time, as the cases are geographically dispersed across Europe and beyond.
Most of the cases are so far mild, he added.
“monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness, and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment,” said Dr. Kluge. “However, the disease can be more severe, especially in young children, pregnant women, and individuals who are immunocompromised.”
Working To Limit Transmission
WHO is working with the concerned countries, including to determine the likely source of infection, how the virus is spreading, and how to limit further transmission.
Countries are also receiving guidance and support on surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control, clinical management, risk communication and community engagement.
Concern Over Summer Uptickmonkeypox virus is mostly transmitted to humans from wild animals such as rodents and primates. It is also spread between humans during close contct – through infected skin lesions, exhaled droplets or body fluids, including sexual contact – or through contact with contaminated materials such as bedding.
People suspected of having the disease should be checked and isolated.
“As we enter the summer season in the European Region, with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate, as the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity, and the symptoms are unfamiliar to many,” said Dr. Kluge.
He added that handwashing, as well as other measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, are also critical to reduce transmission in healthcare settings.
Cases In Other Regions
Australia, Canada, and the United States are also among non-endemic countries that have reported cases of monkeypox.
The US detected its first case for the year after a man in the northeastern state of Massachusetts tested positive on Tuesday following recent travel to Canada.
Health authorities in New York City, home to UN Headquarters, are also investigating a possible case after a patient at a hospital tested positive on Thursday.
The US recorded two monkeypox cases in 2021, both related to travel from Nigeria.
World Health Organisation estimates 15 million people have died directly or indirectly from coronavirus
The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.
WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from January 1 2020 to December 31 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.
According to WHO The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling.
There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.
According to the figures Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
According to the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2021, the Caribbean is set to face a fragile and uneven recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic may leave lasting scars on the economy of the Caribbean. With the Caribbeans GDP declining by 8% in 2020, people in the Caribbean have been forced to cut costs.
The Caribbean’s GDP
The report by WESP has warned governments that the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may be felt for years to come. This can be prevented with smart investments in economic, societal and climate resilience in order to ensure a robust and sustainable recovery of the economy. The Caribbeans GDP has declined by 8% in 2020 due to prolonged national lockdowns, weaker merchandise exports and a collapse in tourism.
The Caribbean’s tourism-dependent economies have been severely affected. This has led to these economies suffering double-digit contractions of GDP. The UN has been able to provide a baseline scenario which has projected a growth of 3.8% in 2021, and a further growth of 2.6% in 2022. The pandemic, and drop in GDP, has resulted in millions of jobs being lost. A large majority of these jobs originate from the informal sector. Retail and hospitality sectors are known to hire women, younger people and workers with low education. These sectors were hit the hardest, resulting in not only job losses, but also income loss. Due to this, people in the Caribbean have had to find ways to stretch their money and save on expenses.
Here are five ways to save on expenses in these unsure times:
1. Determine a budget
People should create a rough idea of what their spending is for the week and month – a lot of research is available on budgeting. This will lead them to forming a plan on how to cut costs. People should consider their income and expenses, and then categorize the needs from the wants. Luxury or unnecessary items should be highlighted. Examples of this would be subscriptions to streaming platforms or the purchasing of cosmetic products. People should consider how much they use these luxury items and aim to eliminate as many luxury items as possible. This will lead to significant savings.
Although cooking has become a hobby for many during lockdown, it is also a way to cut costs. Buying processed food, takeaways or easy-prep food is known to cost more than fresh ingredients. This is because customers have to pay for the ingredients and cooking processes in these mentioned food options. To cut costs, people should buy the raw ingredients and cook their own food.
3. Save before spending
Many people have the habit of saving after they have spent their salary on goods, services and bills. To save more successfully, people should consider their salary and their disposable funds, and then dedicate an amount to their savings. There are ways to save besides the conventional savings fund, such as investing in stocks or cryptocurrency. This may prove to be wildly fruitful, but it is also a risk.
4. Avoid panic buying
Panic buying, which may seem like the correct choice at that moment, leads to the unnecessary loss of valuable cash on hand. Panic buying has proven to cause buyers to purchase unnecessarily large amounts of items, or items that they won’t or cannot use. When it comes to panic buying food items, many of these items end up spoiling. Ultimately, panic buying results in people losing money unnecessarily and wasting resources. In times of stress, people should determine what is needed and should look for the best prices.
The bottom line
Saving on expenses during a pandemic, which has resulted in economic uncertainty and struggle, has been proven to be a double-edged sword. Saving is simple if the person knows how to do so, but consistent saving requires determination and control. Additionally, not all people in the Caribbean will be able to follow all five ways of saving due to financial constraints. In this case, people should implement ways of saving which are possible and suited to their situation. Every cent counts.
A human skull dating back some 200 years has been found in St Vincent.
The skull was found on Petite Mustique, a small island in the Caribbean nation off St Vincent and the Grenadines, south of the mainland according to the University of Oregon.
Researchers say it shows signs of leprosy and could be the first-ever recorded case of the disease in the Americas. Leprosy is a medical condition that causes dramatic disfigurement of the hands, feet and face. These changes also leave a trace in the bones of the patients.
The skull dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century and was first found in 2003.
The research published in the International Journal of Paleopathology on November 13th, was conducted by three researchers from the University of Oregon: Greg C Nelson, Taylor Nicole Dodrill, and Scott M Fitzpatrick.
According to the statement issued by UO, historical records hinted that the island might have been the site of a leprosarium in the early nineteenth century when people with leprosy could be quarantined to prevent further spread of disease. UO archaeologist Fitzpatrick, who is also the associate director for research at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History said in a statement, “There are a number of pretty well-known cases in the Caribbean and Pacific where smaller islands were used as places to segregate people with leprosy, such as Molokai in Hawaii.”
Although the spread of leprosy has been documented in the Caribbean through written evidence beginning around the mid-17th century, they have remained incomplete. With the recent study, archaeologists have found skeletal evidence of the disease that could help trace its pattern of spread in a more efficient manner.
One Caribbean country is seeing a sharp spike in deaths from the dreaded COVID-19 virus, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today.
Trinidad and Tobago has seen a sharp rise in deaths as intensive care unit (ICU) beds fill with COVID-19 patients, PAHO said. T&T’s death toll is now 1,885. Fifteen new deaths were reported on Tuesday lone. The cases of infections stand at 63,084 with 7,171 listed as active cases.
There are 414 additional covid19 cases as of Tuesday afternoon, from samples taken between November 11 and 15. This is the highest number of cases since the 535 reported on November 12th.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 461 covid19 patients warded in hospitals, with 86 at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility.
The total number of people who received the first shot of a two-dose vaccine are 633,715; 590,144 people have received their second dose; and 39,237 people have received their only shot of a single-dose vaccine.
Meanwhile, overall, in the Americas, COVID-19 deaths have decreased 17% in the past week. However, the most populous countries like the United States, Brazil and Colombia are seeing a leveling of new infections after weeks of declining trends, PAHO said.
Countries across Central and South America have seen a decline in new infections, except for Bolivia, it said.
Additionally, half of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, though coverage remains below 10% in Nicaragua and Haiti, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said.
Mexico is, like T&T, reporting an increase in new deaths as Uruguay and Chile have relaxed pandemic restrictions, COVID-19 cases have spiked, even with their high vaccination coverage, the health agency said.
“The COVID pandemic is still very active in our region,” Etienne warned in a webcast news conference.
Etienne urged people in the region to get vaccinated and stick to social distancing and mask wearing as the holiday season approaches.
Turkish authorities have arrested a man considered a suspect of “great interest” in the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, Haiti’s Foreign Minister Claude Joseph said late on Monday.
The 53-year-old former businessman Moise, who took office in 2017, was shot dead at his private residence and I wound his wife in the attack. A group of Colombian mercenaries emerged as the main suspects though nobody has been charged or convicted in connection with the case.
“I just had a phone conversation with the Turkish Minister, my friend Mevlut Cavusoglu, to thank Turkey for the arrest of Samir Handal, one people of great interest in the investigation into the assassination of the president,” Joseph said on Twitter.
Turkish media reported on Tuesday that Handal, who was being sought with an Interpol Red Notice, was detained at the Istanbul Airport by authorities as he was flying transit from the United States to Jordan.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
A swimmer missing for almost 12 hours off the Irish coast was rescued after a lifeboat crew's attention was drawn to a pod of dolphins.
The RNLI volunteers spotted the exhausted man among the dolphins in the sea near Castlegregory in County Kerry.
Conservationists have now identified the animals as being from a population of bottlenose dolphins that feed and breed in Scotland's Moray Firth.
The rescue was sparked by the discovery of the swimmer's clothes on a beach.
The RNLI and coastguard teams carried out a search into Sunday night.
The RNLI said: "At 20:30, the volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a pod of dolphins and a head above the water about two-and-a-half miles off Castlegregory beach.
"The casualty was conscious and immediately recovered onto the lifeboat and brought Fenit Harbour to be taken to hospital."
The dolphins have been seen off the Irish coast since 2019.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group confirmed the identity of Sunday's dolphins as the same animals. Scientists and conservationists can identify individual dolphins by the shape and markings on their dorsal fins.
The wayward Scottish group had included a dolphin known to scientists as Spirtle, who survived being badly sunburned while stranded on mudflats in the Cromarty Firth in 2016. After appearing off Ireland, she later returned to the Moray Firth where this month was spotted with her new-born calf.
Belize has declared a state of emergency (SOE) lockdown in part of the capital for the next 30 days as law enforcement authorities seek to quell an increase in gang warfare.
Police Commissioner, Chester Williams, says the police have been faced with the challenge of gathering enough evidence to put away gang members after they commit crimes.
The police and members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) have been actively detaining gang members since Thursday and Williams, told reporters “we have seen a number of gang-related shootings in different parts of the City.
“While the police have been able to conduct investigations in relation to these incidents, by the admission of the surviving victims, as well as through our intelligence mechanisms, we have been able to pinpoint who are these persons behind these triggers.
“But, due to the fact that the surviving victims and witnesses in connection with the cases where the victims pass away, who do not wish to cooperate with the police investigation, when I say cooperate, I mean in terms of giving us what they may have seen in writing in the form of a statement, in order for us to effect an arrest, we have not been able to remove those persons off our streets.”
Williams said that the police have found that for the most part whenever these criminal activities occur, the relatives of the victims take their own retaliation.
“So that has made it hard for the police to arrest the situation by getting those people who are responsible, charged, and sent to prison. And so, we saw that particularly over the weekend that went, that the shootings were increasing, especially in the Antelope Street Extension area where there seems to be an intense feud over the sale of drugs between two rival groups, as well as the Mayflower area.
“As you know, that feud in that area has been going on for quite some time. And it has cost a number of lives,” he said, noting that last weekend a teenager went into the home of person “and could have executed three persons.
“So, we have seen a number of reckless shootings from these gang figures. And so with that, I made recommendations to our minister to instate a state of emergency because we have been unable to remove these people off the streets due to non-cooperation on the part of victims and witnesses,” Williams told reporters.
He said the Cabinet agreed that the best option to deal with the spike in gang-related crimes is to re-instate an SOE.
“I always tried my utmost best to resolve the street feuds through diplomacy or by way of the law where we can arrest and charge people. But, where we have situations where the victims and witnesses are not forthcoming, then the perpetrators remain on the streets knowing that nothing could be done to them in the absence of anybody giving statements against them.
“The Belizean people are on edge. Some people are fearful to move around in their own communities because of these gang members. And, we have to act in the best interest of our people,” said Williams, adding that “the issue of fighting crime is not the sole responsibility of the police.
“What happened shows that our society has changed. Our society has developed a propensity for violence. And, the police duty is to investigate, gather evidence, arrest, and charge. As I have said before, while we know who the perpetrators are, the witnesses are not cooperating.
“So, we are not able to get the evidence to charge those persons who are responsible. So, how could it be, it has to do with my approach? I am not the one parenting these thugs. I am not the one influencing them. Yes, I try my best to influence them in a positive way. But, at the end of the day, I cannot force them to listen to me."
Olympian and world’s fastest man, Jamaican Usain St. Leo Bolt, is now a daddy to three.
The sprint legend Usain Bolt and his longtime girlfriend Kasi Bennett shared the news to social media on Father’s Day, announcing that they have welcomed twins, Saint Leo and Thunder Bolt, into their growing family.
The couple welcomed daughter Olympia Lightning Bolt in 2020.
“Happy Father’s Day to my forever love. You are the rock of this family and the greatest daddy to out little ones. We love you world without end!,” Bennett wrote under the picture of the proud parents with their three children.
Bolt, 34, and Bennett, have been dating for six years. The couple had announced their first pregnancy but not the second so its unclear when exactly the twins were born.
Bolt retired from athletics in 2017 and still holds the 100m and 200m world records, making him the fastest man in history. After leaving athletics he tried to play professional football, but then announced he was leaving sports entirely in 2019. He is also the only man to have won three 100m Olympic titles and 23 major gold medals during his career.
In the wake of several mass shootings, President Joe Biden is expected to roll out several new gun control measures Thursday.
President Biden included gun reform as part of his platform, citing that he wants to end America's mass shooting problem.
While there is currently no information regarding the plans expected Thursday, it is believed that the president will propose legislation banning "ghost" guns, guns that are assembled by parts purchased online and therefore do not have a serial number, and background checks.
President Biden is expected to announce the gun control plans alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland. In addition, the president is said he will use the press announcement to nominate the new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director.
A White House official says President Biden will select David Chipman, a former ATF agent who has worked with former Representative Gabby Giffords as a gun control advocate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday will include a "combination of steps," including executive orders and presidential memos.
For Congress to advance any form of gun control, Democrats -- who control the House -- will require 10 Republicans in the Senate to help pass legislation.
The issue of passing bills along party lines has inspired progressive Democrats to call for the elimination of the 60-vote threshold to advance legislation.
In Brazil, the new epicenter of the world's COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are overflowing, health care workers are stretched beyond their limits and cemeteries operate through the night to keep up with demand."It's super, super scary," said Fabio Biolchini, an emergency coordinator at Doctors Without Borders in Brazil. Intensive care units in 20 of Brazil's 27 states are above 100% occupancy, Biolchini explained, and thousands are waiting for an open bed in intensive care units.
Second only to the United States, Brazil has reported more than 12.8 million infections and 325,284 deaths from the virus as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In the face of that devastation, the Brazilian government's response has been lackluster at best and downright dangerous at worst, experts say.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed COVID-19, dismissing it as a "little flu" early in the pandemic, took a new approach during a televised national address March 23. This time, Bolsonaro attributed Brazil's devastation to the new P.1 virus variant, which was first identified in January and is now the dominant strain in Manaus, the Amazon's biggest city. The P.1 variant is considered to be a "variant of concern" because evidence suggests that it is highly transmissible and has the potential to reinfect people who have recovered from infections caused by other variants.
But Dr. Mauricio Nogueira, a professor at São Jose do Rio Preto School of Medicine in Brazil, who has studied viral variants and how they emerge for more than two decades, questioned whether focusing solely on the new variant downplayed government missteps and widespread misinformation about COVID-19 treatments that have contributed to the current crisis.
"It's very convenient for the government to say that the variant is causing the problem, because it takes our responsibility out of the equation," Nogueira said.
He preferred to turn the question around. "Are they the cause or the consequence?" he asked of the variants.
"We're having these variants because we're having indiscriminate circulation of the virus in the country," he concluded.
Before the variants were identified, misinformation about preventing and treating COVID-19 was being spread from person to person, including at the highest levels of government.
"People in Brazil are still denying science," Biolchini said. "We're talking about hydroxychloroquine and drugs that supposedly help you avoid COVID. This is clearly not what the science says."
Cheap, easy, ineffective, dangerous: The hydroxychloroquine story
Like former President Donald Trump in the United States, Bolsonaro championed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in Brazil both as a treatment for COVID-19 and as a preventative medication.
"If I had taken hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure, I would still be working," Bolsonaro said after he contracted COVID-19 in July.
Since then, a World Health Organization expert panel has released strong recommendations against using hydroxychloroquine as preventative medicine, writing in the British Medical Journal in March that hydroxychloroquine had no meaningful effect on death, hospitalization or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Instead, the drug has the potential to harm people who take it to prevent COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine "probably increases the risk of adverse effects," the panel found.
While there aren't official statistics on how many people in Brazil are taking hydroxychloroquine and other unproven medications to prevent COVID-19, Dr. Bruno Caramelli, a cardiologist and professor at the University of São Paulo, said it's common among his patients to have taken, or still be taking, drugs like hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
This week, a patient of Caramelli's who owns a cattle farm in the western part of São Paulo state, called him panicked. His wife, family and his employees on the farm had all contracted COVID-19 and were taking hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, for treatment. "I'm breathless," the patient told him. With local hospitals overrun, Caramelli convinced the patient and his wife to stop taking hydroxychloroquine and get an ambulance to São Paulo.
"They listened to me and they stopped," Caramelli said. The same could not be said of the farm employees, who Caramelli did not counsel directly, and were still taking hydroxychloroquine under the advice of local physicians.
"Every drug has a side effect," said Nogueira, who was involved in an early clinical trial of chloroquine, a malaria drug similar to hydroxychloroquine, which found that drug showed no benefit as a COVID-19 treatment. In addition to being ineffective, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, especially when combined with other drugs, like azithromycin, can be toxic to the heart, Nogueira explained. Ivermectin is a safe drug for treating parasites, according to Nogueira, but Brazilians using the drug for COVID-19 without a prescription is already having consequences.
"We are seeing people getting liver disease," Nogueira said. "It's dangerous.”
'A fake feeling of safety'
Unproven, quick-fix treatments aren't just dangerous, they're also a distraction from measures that do stop the spread of the virus, like social distancing and masks.
"It gives the people a fake feeling of safety," Nogueira said of ineffective preventative treatments. Vaccination, the one preventative treatment that has been shown to be effective against COVID-19, isn't widespread in Brazil yet. Just 7% of Brazil's population had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of April 1, according to Our World in Data.
Quick fixes like hydroxychloroquine take "the need for isolation, lockdown and real treatment out of the focus," Caramelli said. "That's why we're seeing an escalating number of deaths." On Thursday, Brazil reported more than 3,000 deaths in a single day from the virus, according to data from JHU. During this current wave, that number first crossed 2,000 on March 10 and 1,000 on Jan. 4.
Still, Caramelli understands the appeal of a miracle. "You're very worried about dying and you have something that is presented as hope," he said.
In March, Caramelli started a Change.org petition asking the Federal Counsel of Medicine, Brazil's medical regulatory agency, to officially come out against what's known colloquially as a "COVID kit," a COVID treatment plan of unproven dtugs like chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and invermectin. If the petition, which now has more than 18,800 signatures, is officially taken up by the CFM, doctors who continue to prescribe the unproven drugs for COVID-19 could be suspended or punished.
For now, the mismatch between people's belief in miracle cures and overflowing Brazilian hospitals is frustrating for doctors and nurses working on the front lines, according to Biolchini. When health care workers leave hospitals and see full restaurants or people walking around like nothing's going on, it's isolating, he explained.
"The doctors and nurses, they have the impression that they are the only ones fighting this battle," Biolchini said.
YouTube Video: Al Jazeera English