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Beware fake news and myths about Coronavirus, warn Tourism Health Specialists

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World Health Organization

#MIAMI (February 14, 2020) – Medical specialists reminded the hospitality sector that the Caribbean had only a very small chance of contracting Coronavirus but warned them to be wary of an unprecedented amount of misinformation and fake news circulating about the virus, especially on social media sites.  

Dr. Lisa Indar at a stakeholder meeting in Trinidad & Tobago related to the recent novel Coronavirus outbreak

Dr. Lisa Indar, Deputy Executive Director, Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), speaking during a webinar organized by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), said the risk for the region was “low to moderate” and stressed the Caribbean did not have any reported cases, largely because travelers to the region from affected countries had to take a number of commercial flights before reaching the region.  But, she said “that does not mean we cannot be prepared given the rapidly changing nature of this novel disease. We have had meetings with CMOs (Chief Medical Officers) and ministers of health to ramp up vigilance at our ports of entry.”

Several Caribbean countries have implemented a number of containment strategies to ensure the region is made as safe as possible from the virus and CARPHA was working closely with the private sector organization CHTA and its public sector counterpart the Caribbean Tourism Organization to ensure the hotel and tourism sectors were properly prepared.  

WHO Meeting

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), based on the recommendations of the emergency committee (International Health Regulations), declared the 2019 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern which Dr. Stephanie Fletcher-Lartey, resident specialist at CARPHA, said was a call for enhanced global coordination: “Once that has been declared, countries and various international organizations can tap into resources (to support the response to the outbreak).”

Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association

The regular flu virus had already killed at least 10,000 people in the United States of America this season and Dr. Indar urged people to take precautions from that disease whose symptoms include heavy coughing, sneezing, fever, and headaches and are similar to those for Coronavirus.

Washing hands regularly, avoiding close contact with people who may have symptoms, staying clear of crowds and seeking immediate medical attention are important precautions.

Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, echoed her colleague’s warnings about “fake news” poisoning the Caribbean and reported CARPHA was myth-busting by producing videos dealing with a lot of the questions so that everyone understands the issues and can focus on credible sources.  

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Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA, agreed with Dr. St. John, stating: “We have seen several false reports posted online in recent days alleging contamination at a hotel. This is irresponsible. People making such false accusations should be held liable for their actions. Any such reports should be scrutinized by CARPHA or the local health authorities before one even considers sharing.”

He pointed to a number of informational, reporting and monitoring protocols and procedures which are in place to help the hotel and tourism sector deal with medical emergencies, which have been carefully crafted by CARPHA and other regional health organizations.   

Jamaica Health Minister checks readiness at NMIA -File Photo

Dr. Indar along with Comito urged all of the region’s hotels which are not part of CARPHA’s Tourism Health Information System (THiS), which provides support information and helps to manage early warning procedures, to sign up.

“This is a very important tool which helps us to mitigate the spread of disease, and to protect the safety of residents and guests as well as the reputation of our destinations,” Dr. Indar stressed. 

To register for THiS, visit http://this.carpha.org or https://tinyurl.com/txjo7al.  

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138 illegals add to the over 900 migrants captured by TCI Joint Forces

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FILE PHOTO

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre and partners continue to work together to protect our borders and keep TCI secure.

During the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 2022 the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre identified a target of interest and immediately started to track the vessel around 5 miles North West of Providenciales travelling at around 7 knots.

The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and intercepted a vessel containing irregular migrants. Following a delicate, coordinated operation with the necessary stabilization of the vessel which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and the occupants were without life vests, the RTCIPF Marine Unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants and then the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 4:45am with a total of 138 persons, 98 males and 40 female including 1 juvenile, who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department. One male needed immediate medical attention in relation to a leg injury sustained.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was desperately overcrowded, unsafe and risked the lives of those on board. It continues to demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and Health to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos Islands safe.

In the last couple of months over 900 individuals on 9 dangerous and unseaworthy vessels have been intercepted here in the TCI.

I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call CrimeStoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477, not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

 

Caption: FILE PHOTO

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International joint forces seize $99 Million in Cocaine in Caribbean Sea

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

The US Coast Guard, and ships from the Netherlands made drug busts in the Caribbean Sea over the last few weeks resulting in a cumulative seizure of 5,237 pounds of cocaine.  The Coast Guard says the illegal narcotics which were offloaded at Base Miami Beach last Friday value $99 million.

The drugs were seized in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea by crews from: Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley, His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Friesland, His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Groningen.

Coast Guard Commanding officer of the Thetis, which transferred the drugs to the base in Miami, Justin Nadolny praised the partnership between themselves and the Netherlands which led to the massive seizure.

“Interdicting drug traffickers on the open ocean is challenging work and every interdiction is complex and unique,” he said. “This offload is a testament to the teamwork and devotion of every crew assigned to carry out this mission, and it showcases the strength of the valuable international partnerships united to combat transnational organized crime.  The fight against drug cartels in the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation.”
The Turks and Caicos also have an agreement with the US Coast Guard signed in recent months which allows for tighter partnerships between the two countries (and the Bahamas) in the fight against illegal migration and drug trafficking in the county’s waters.

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Turks & Caicos Airline becomes first International flight at Ian Fleming in Jamaica

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, June 25, 2022 – As the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica celebrated a new connection on June 16th as Intercaribbean Airways launched their newest flight to Boscobel, St Mary, half an hour from the famous city of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s North Coast.

The Ian Fleming Airport is named for the famous author who penned the James Bond series just miles away from the airport. Never one to miss a theme, InterCaribbean dubbed their flight the JY 007.

The 007 departed Providenciales at 9:30 am Thursday (June 16) with Lyndon Gardiner, Chairman of InterCaribbean Airways; Trevor Sadler, InterCaribbean Airways CEO; Chris and Kayon Stokes of NCS Money Services; Team Beaches TCI, some media namely SunTCI and Magnetic Media as well as a few Jamaicans anxious to get home.

The 007, Ian Fleming Airport’s first international commercial flight, was received in Jamaica with much fanfare.  It was met by a Jamaican delegation including Audley Shaw, Minister of Transport for Jamaica and Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister and a cheerful water cannon spurt to sweeten the arrival of the first international flight at Ian Fleming.

Bartlett was enthusiastic about the prospects that Inter-Caribbean was bringing to Jamaica.

“The presence today of this inaugural flight from a Caribbean island into Boscobel is a bigger statement than what has been made because what it does is to put together the idea of connectivity in a material way. It is how we as a region are going to be able to connect with each other in a way that brings economic value and prosperity to each other and that’s the power of this movement that begins today.”

The minister noted that Tourism was a booming business if only we were aware of how to take charge of it.

“We are about ideas and how to convert ideas into things that have a material value, we are the most consumption-driven activity on planet earth. “ he added “the next critical consideration that has to be looked at …is that we need a single visa regime for touristic purposes that can be provided for visitors coming into your space… a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries.”

Gardiner expressed his excitement for the venture telling the media,“Only the sun covers the Caribbean better than we do.” He also told the gathered press. “We will now have the ability to bring people from across the Caribbean, whether it be for business, pleasure, or furthering multi-destination vacations, by offering Boscobel residents and visitors direct service across the Caribbean and vice versa.”

InterCaribbean Airways will run their flight monthly initially and then upgrade to weekly flights. It would be the third flight between Turks and Caicos and Jamaica; already Kingston and Montego Bay are serviced by the airline based in Providenciales, TCI.

American Airlines and QCAS Aero are also scheduled to begin flights to the Ian Fleming International this year.

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