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TCI Governor on the Science of COVID-19; Statement made April 1

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – FULL STATEMENT :

Good evening Turks and Caicos, it’s the Governor speaking, speaking on behalf of both myself and also the Premier. The Premier will talk on Friday about the support and stimulus package.

From me a Wednesday evening update for you. This is our fifth day of lockdown and curfew.  So far so good – and the first thing to say is thank you. We are collectively doing the right thing.  It’s causing, we know, inconvenience and in some cases serious hardship.  Most people I speak to understand instinctively why we are doing this but we thought we would use tonight to try and describe the underpinning facts of why we are doing what we are doing.

The Science:

If you can bear it, a quick science lesson – because it’s the science that is guiding us on this. You’ll have heard lots of people describe ‘flattening the curve’.  As far as I can, I want to describe to you what that means and why what we are doing does this.

All virus’s spread at different rates.  There is a scientific scale of measuring infection – this isn’t random – so, for example, measles is ‘nine’ which means that we would expect one measles case to infect nine others.  For Influenza the infection rate is 1.3.  If the rate is ‘one’ then one person infects one other person.  A figure less than ‘one’ means the disease is in decline and may die out.   

COVID19 is thought to be around 2.2. Much less infectious than measles but considerably more infectious than influenza. What this means is that, on average, one infected person passes it on to 2.2 other people. As with all statistics that quote averages this means that there may be many people that only pass it on to one, and one person that passes it on to many, but as I say the global average is 2.2

You see this in the way COVID19 spreads. One person infects two, two people infect four, those four infect eight (in fact because it’s an infection rate of 2.2 it’s now starting to become more than simply doubling) so let’s say that eight cases becomes 17 and then 17 becomes 37. You get the picture, we now have a very dramatic rise as we saw in Italy and in cities such as New York.  It’s out of the cage and it’s spreading and multiplying at a factor of 2.2. Not good.

The number one purpose of everything you are doing is to change the maths on this spread. What we need to do is bring this down from 2.2 to certainly under 1.5, in truth we want to get it to under one.  But Below 1.5 we can start to impose ourselves on this virus and bring it under control. We have to do that because our medical services can manage a much flattened curve but they couldn’t possibly manage the sort of increase I described as it grew at 2.2

The good news is that all the medical opinion we can draw on – here in the Island, public and private, and that expertise we can draw on elsewhere, including some very eminent epidemiologists in the UK, tell us that TCI is doing all the right things to achieve this. We got ahead of it and we clamped down on it, and if we can hold the line we are going to not only get through but present an example to the world about how to do this.

Separate to this there is a secondary benefit. The better the lockdown we achieve, the more chance there will be that we generate in the population a slow-burn immunity that builds over time. These will be people who have in some way been exposed to the virus but have either had no symptoms or very mild symptoms. 

It’s reasonable I think for us to assume, given how large our tourist sector was, that the virus must have been on the Islands before it was first properly identified. Some immunity will have been starting to develop.  

With testing – coming in from the UK and also being procured from the US – there’s sophisticated modelling that can explain this and as we reach a tipping point we will know that. While there will continue to be cases in TCI, there will be sufficient immunity in the population to prevent its rapid spread here. We will be seeking data to make smart decisions around this.

With the Territory having developed its own immunity – with the borders still closed – we can start to restart the local economy and get money moving through and round it. Businesses will be able to open. Fear of each other will subside.

Indeed, these Islands are small enough, the measures we have all taken together restrictive enough, and the data we may be able to collect around immunity important enough, that it may well be that TCI becomes an example of how to do this – that does our brand – as an extraordinary place and a healthy place to visit – no end of good.

It also allows us to start to see a medium term future where a tourist visiting TCI who we know is safe can come to an extraordinary destination that they know is not only beautiful, but is safe. But let’s be honest with each other that’s some way off in the future although something we are working towards.

Adjustment to the Regulations

Laws can help moderate and guide behaviour but it’s by far best when a people know why they are doing something than be told to do something. Self-denial, self-discipline and good judgement are so much more powerful than say the threat of vehicle confiscation. Please, err on the side of caution. Because you can do something doesn’t mean you necessarily should do something. 

We said we’d keep everything we were doing under review and we have been. Broadly we think we are in the right place.  Matters that have now become clearly the way to do things – which haven’t caused enormous inconvenience but have severely cut down traffic and movement – we yesterday captured in law; so, for example, you may not drive to your place of exercise.

We have removed takeaways, drive-throughs and restaurants from being described as an essential service. From the last few days it’s clear they aren’t – we can get by until the end of this period without them, wonderful as they are.

We do it based on medical and Policing advice.  With TCI Islanders and Residents being the sociable society we are, some risk becoming the equivalent of the local bar, the spot some meet and engage, and it also gives a license for movement we could not reasonably police.

This covers every form of takeaway, no exceptions.  There is the possibility of the Governor granting exceptions but I think that will be unlikely over this period of lockdown unless it’s in direct support of an effort to alleviate hunger.

It’s also now clear in the law that you have to be on a route from your home to your allowed destination (a supermarket is the best example). Much of this ‘law’ wasn’t required because people were demonstrating great common sense but it is a tidying up exercise for those who might take advantage, a week or so in.  Beyond that we’ve kept matters very much as they are. It’s working.

We had an interesting piece of false news start to generate today. It wasn’t malicious just wrong and it originated from a South African website – that isn’t a recognised authority on medical statistics. 

To be clear, we still have only 5 (five) confirmed cases in TCI.  The authoritative way to know – what our health professionals on the front line know – is the TCI dashboard that we disseminate daily and is on the MOH website. Please stick to TCI sources, we hold the data because we collect the data. We want the public to know.

This wasn’t malicious or dangerous it was just wrong. There have though been several instances on social media recently that haven’t just been wrong they’ve been dangerous. Before focussing on the tiny number who are malicious amongst us, let me say somethuing about the vast majority.

This is not the time to stifle decent debate – indeed the future of these Islands are starting to be decided during this time in terms of whether we remain safe, recover, and can once again prosper. 

But what this short period is not, is an opportunity for us to stigmatise anyone who has COVID19. For all you know you may be one of the fortunate that had it, suffered few if any symptoms, but passed it on to others. Or – if we all lose control of this through our casualness – it’s very probably true that it will be someone very close to you, who you love, that ends up with this virus. It doesn’t discriminate.

If you see someone originating or spreading hate or misinformation, designed to cause fear, then there is now a Police Unit – well skilled in following leads across the internet – that you can report to. Their email is: pofscovid19@tcipolice.tc. That’s pofscovid19@tcipolice.tc

Stopping the Sloops

I’ll finish on one point I flagged yesterday on Social Media. A large sloop of many hundreds was turned around yesterday on the High Seas between here and Haiti. I was on a call today with the US Ambassador and US Coast Guard in Bahamas; the number of combined assets we have operating presently in this space has significantly increased.  That frustrating battle continues every night – we should be more proud of those involved in this work tonight, than ever. But for those who can connect to Haiti do send them the message. You have our continued attention and you will be stopped.

As of tonight we are okay. We are in a much better position than many others. In terms of health, we can see a route through this, not through hope but through understanding the science, determined to capitalise by doing this once and doing this right. That’s what you are doing TCI; you are a resilient lot and resilience is the order of the day for the next few weeks. The reward is there if we stay firm; as firm we must.

Day five is drawing to a close and day six is soon to begin – soon we will be announcing the end of the first week. We can do this.

Good night TCI

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TCI News

Joint Operations Result in Interception of Illegal Migrants in Providenciales

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#RoyalTCIPolice, #Providenciales, June 10, 2024 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force intercepted an illegal sloop transporting SIXTY-SIX (66) irregular migrants on the evening of June 9th, 2024.

The detained group, comprising FIFTY-FIVE (55) males and ELEVEN (11) females, was
intercepted in TCI waters and handed over to the TCI Immigration Task Force for processing.

On June 8th, the Marine Branch of the RTCIPF intercepted a blue and white fibreglass boat
carrying thirty-two (32) irregular migrants.

The boat was spotted 27 miles east of South Caicos and found to be transporting twenty-six (26)
males and six (6) females. The irregular migrants were handed over to Immigration for
processing.

These successful interdictions came following information obtained from a US Customs and
Border Force aircraft.

A joint operation conducted on June 7th has led to the detention of irregular migrants in Blue
Hills. Acting on the information received, authorities detained forty-eight (48) individuals
running along a beach.

Officers conducted extensive searches of surrounding areas, and tragically, the body of a female
was found at Pigeon Pound. Further investigations are ongoing, but it is believed the incident is
linked to a vessel attempting to enter the country illegally.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Specialist Tactical Operations) Mat Newton states, “I
wish to thank all law enforcement agencies for their invaluable assistance in intercepting illegal
sloops attempting to enter the TCI. Your dedication and collaboration have been instrumental in
ensuring national security and protecting our borders. Our Radar, Marine and Drone units, the
TCI Regiment, the Immigration Task Force, and the Customs Department conducted the
operations.

“The RTCIPF strongly condemns the attempts to enter the TCI illegally. Such actions violate the
law and pose severe risks to life, especially in adverse weather conditions.

“We urge those facilitating and encouraging these illegal attempts to consider the severe
consequences. Do not risk your life or the lives of others by embarking on such perilous
journeys.

“I am also grateful to those people from our communities who report suspicious activity relating
to illegal migration and would urge the public to continue keeping us informed.”
The RTCIPF asks the public to notify the closest police station, contact 911, the Serious Crime
Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to anonymously provide any information on
illegal entry into the TCI.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the Crimestoppers P3 app to share
information anonymously.

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Caribbean News

TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders

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TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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Crime

Male Charged With Murder

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#TurksandCaicos, June 7, 2024 – A 29-year-old male has been charged with the murder of BUTLER BRAVE PROPHETE. KERLY AGENOR, of Dock Yard, Providenciales, was charged today (June 06th) following advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. In addition to the murder, the accused faces the following charges:

  • Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of Ammunition
  • Discharge of a Firearm
  • Discharge of Ammunition

The charges against Mr. AGENOR state that on March 05th, 2024, in Providenciales, he murdered Mr. PROPHETE, Contrary to Section 3 of the Offenses Against the Person Ordinance Chapter 3.08.

At the time of his death, Mr. Prophete, 22, of Wheeland, Providenciales, was exiting his workplace on the Lower Bight and was shot dead.

Mr AGENOR remains in custody pending a Sufficiency Hearing.

In a brief statement, Superintendent in charge of Crime, Safeguarding, Public Protection, and Intelligence Dean Holden said: “I wish to thank the officers of the Serious Crime Unit for their dedication and commitment in bringing this case to a charge. Further, I wish to reassure the public and families that the RTCIPF is committed to bringing prosecutions against perpetrators and, when possible, closure to persons who have lost loved ones to these senseless homicides”.

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