#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – October 20, 2018 – A record 30 million stay-over visitors to the Caribbean region in 2017 did well to mask the damage that a classification by the World Health Organization, as a region still laden with cases of the terrifying Zika virus, was having upon travel bookings.
Ever since the emergence of the virus within our hemisphere, there has been fear about the mosquito borne disease, which can result in, among other things babies being born with microcephaly or a small head.
It is a frightening risk that pregnant women and women wanting to become pregnant have steered clear of taking, especially once the American Centers for Disease Control added the Caribbean to the damning list. It became immediately clear that Zika’s prevalence in our region – whether perceived or real – loomed largely in the decision of where people chose to spend their holidays.
Suffice it to say, CARPHA’s announcement on Thursday was a welcomed one for the Caribbean, including the Turks and Caicos Islands.
CARPHA’s statement explained: “This removal by the WHO comes on the heels of data released by CARPHA, giving evidence that the Zika virus transmission in the Caribbean had been interrupted for over 12 months, or was at undetectable levels, thereby posing very little risk to residents and visitors to the Region. This was matched by data shared with CARPHA by Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States of America, which showed that no Zika had been detected for over 12 months in travelers returning from the Caribbean to their countries.”
A year free of Zika and a letter penned to demand a re-classification has made all the difference for the region and CARPHA member states. The member countries are now removed from Category 1, where Zika is prevalent to Category 3, which means there is no Zika transmission.
“Last year I had the opportunity to engage with travel agents from around the world and was told of the importance of having the Turks and Caicos removed from the list, especially as my Government through the Change Document, to market the Turks and Caicos Islands as a wedding destination.”
Premier Sharlene Robinson in a Friday media meeting explained that it was a team effort including the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US Consulate, however Robinson gave highest commendation to the diligence of the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA and CARICOM.
“Over the past year there have been efforts by my government to have the TCI removed, having had no new transmissions recorded and having seen other countries removed,” the Premier added, “But are thrilled at the positive results of the advocacy led by CARPHA and CARICOM which resulted in the removal of the entire classification.”
The Premier revealed that the tourism and travel agents of the Turks and Caicos Islands welcome the development.
In 2016, statistics shed an unfavorable light on Latin America and the Caribbean. An April 2017 report in NPR or National Public Radio online quoted the Centers for Disease Control. Figures exposed that in 2016 there were 1600 cases of Zika reported in pregnant women in the United States. Fourteen Latin American and Caribbean countries were cited as the places the women had visited and were considered the origin of the disease.
“Of those women with laboratory evidence of Zika virus, there were 77 reported pregnancy losses and 51 babies born with birth defects, including 43 babies with microcephaly or brain abnormalities. Other babies had eye abnormalities or neural tube defects,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC at the time of the article.
The Turks and Caicos Ministry of Health reported in July that the country had gone 18-months with no new cases of Zika reported.
Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam
By Dana Malcolm
February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.
The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.
The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.
Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.
Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.
Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.
Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.
The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.
The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.
For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.
TCI Office in Bahamas identified
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 7, 2023 – An office space has already been identified for an all-new TCI Immigration office in The Bahamas according to Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services.
Musgrove told Magnetic Media that the ministry was “almost there” in regard to securing the space; it indicates the Government is moving full speed ahead with plans for the passing of the new Immigration Bill which will allow third-generation TC Islanders citizenship, even as the public awaits consultations on it.
The announcement of the bill had caused some skepticism among islanders, some of whom wanted the government to focus on keeping TC Islanders at home instead of recruiting others. Musgrove however had made it clear that the TCI was in a population crisis and would need to slow down PRC naturalisation rates and naturalise people with historical, familial and cultural connections to the land or risk going ‘extinct’.
The office will work to deepen the relationship between the two sister countries even more and help increase the TCI’s population offsetting the need for masses of external labour according to the government.
When passed, the rule will apply to third-generation islanders everywhere, not only in The Bahamas giving them a free ticket to come home.
The Shore Club makes Travel + Leisure
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 7, 2023 – The Shore Club is the perfect place to escape the cold with your family according to well-known travel magazine, Travel + Leisure at least. The Turks and Caicos resort was featured in the worldwide magazine’s January feature last month.
“It’s hard to overstate the grandness of our accommodations,” travel writer Hannah Selinger gushed as she described the luxurious Shore Club experience that retails for around $750 per night.
The resort owned by Stan Hartling, 2021 TCI Humanitarian of the Year, was lauded for its use of local materials including coral harvested in Long Bay on which the property resides. The writer was particularly impressed with the expansive space and multiple amenities at the resort which even when significantly booked “never feels even remotely full”.
She described the food and the entirety of her experience as ‘extremely satisfying’.
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