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TCI: Statement on Confirmed COVID-19 Overseas Transfer Patient in Jamaica



#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Sunday April 18, 2020: The Turks and Caicos (TCI) Hospital wishes to confirm that a patient who was recently transferred back to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in Jamaica on April 16th 2020 for advanced critical care later tested positive for COVID-19. 

The patient was admitted to the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre for an emergency surgical re-operation, which was life-saving and required a transfer overseas for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and other tertiary level support not currently available in the TCI. An overseas referral was therefore generated and forwarded to the TCI National Health Insurance Board. 

The overseas medical facility was contacted by the TCI National Health Insurance Board and was provided with the required clinical information on the patient. This information was reviewed, and the patient was accepted by the overseas medical facility. The same process was followed to engage the Air Ambulance companies.


The Ministry of Health in Jamaica in consultation with other relevant authorities granted the standard approval to accept the critical and time-sensitive medical transfer via the treatment abroad program (TAP). There was an obvious reason for the patient’s medical condition and the patient did not meet the case definition for suspected COVID-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands or Jamaica. 

Based on the UHWI’s pre-screening form, there were no clinical suspicions related to COVID-19. The patient was fully isolated shortly after arrival and tested within 12 hours out of an abundance of caution. The results returned as positive for COVID-19 and all parties involved in the delivery of medical services to the patient have been notified. 

The patient remains in stable condition in the COVID-19 ICU. TCI Hospital, the TCI Ministry of Health and TCI National Health Insurance Board wishes to extend best wishes to the affected patient for a speedy recovery given the diagnosis. Due to patient confidentiality, no further details can be released. 


While medical teams across the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre and Ministry of Health continue to operate with elevated IPC precautions, the TCI Hospital in collaboration with the TCI Ministry of Health is currently reviewing the timelines leading up to the patient’s diagnosis. In addition, contact tracing was immediately activated in collaboration with the public health team to identify anyone who require screening and/or quarantine based on their risk level for exposure. 

The overwhelming majority of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 locally and globally present with symptoms in accordance with the case definition established by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, there is increasing scientific speculation into the occurrence of atypical presentations as the global pandemic evolves. TCI Hospital continues to monitor the latest evidence-based findings related to COVID-19 case definitions, conduct risk assessments and adjust infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures accordingly.


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Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.


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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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