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Jamaica first in Caribbean for COVID-19 testing

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Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster Kerr, responds to questions from journalists, during a digital press conference from the Ministry of Health and Wellness​' New Kingston offices on Wednesday (May 6).

Kingston, Jamaica – May 11, 2020 – Jamaica is ranked first out of 14 Caribbean countries in terms of the overall number of tests administered for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This was disclosed by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who commended healthcare professionals for the critical role they play in facilitating the country’s increased testing capacity.


Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (left),  addresses a digital press conference from the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on Wednesday (May 6).

He was speaking at a digital press conference on Wednesday (May 6) from the Ministry’s New Kingston offices.

Providing further details, Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster Kerr, noted that the figures used for the ranking were as at May 5, when 5,993 tests were recorded. The latest update on May 7 brings the number of tests done locally to 6,417.

Jamaica is followed by the Cayman Islands, which has undertaken 3,050 tests, then Barbados with 2,629. Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas round out the top-five countries, recording 2,121 and 1,485 tests, respectively.

Dr. Webster Kerr noted, however, that the Cayman Islands surpassed Jamaica to take the top spot in terms of the number of tests per population, at 46,000 per million. With 2,024 per million, Jamaica is ranked ninth. Jamaica has a population of 2.9 million, while the Cayman Islands has a population of 65,604.

The other countries involved in the evaluation are Belize, Haiti, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos.

Jamaica’s capacity to conduct tests for COVID-19 was recently boosted with the commissioning of a COBAS machine, located at the National Public Health Laboratory in Kingston, which has capacity for a maximum 1,140 tests per day.

This is in addition to the donation of two diagnostic machines and 7,500 testing kits by major shareholder in the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), the South Korea-based East West Power Korea (EWP), to the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). This has improved the testing capacity of the Centre from 200 to 986 per day.

In total, Jamaica now has the capacity to conduct approximately 2,126 COVID-19 tests per day.

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Caribbean News

Conjecture, Collusion and Controversy Rumors swirl as PNPs Vote at NGC

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Dana Malcolm and Deandrea Hamilton 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicoisIslands,  February 27, 2024 – “Unity” is the convenient refrain from the executive of the PNP party following a weekend National General Congress (NGC) that aimed to shut down a leadership scramble, an action which further fuelled rumors that the Progressive National Party is severely fractured.

“Their body language and facial expressions are telling me that there’s still contention there. Those two fellas did not even look in each other’s direction,” that was one comment shared with our news team following the leadership scuffle featuring E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Washington Misick, TCI Premier. 

It was one of dozens of similar observations and concerns shared with the news team and across social media as residents observed the aftermath. 

Saunders had fallen short of gaining the two-thirds delegate support needed to truly challenge Misick for the top spot, however, he still counts the number of votes secured in the motion as significant.

“Forty percent of the people voted for an outcome, that means there is a noise in the market that says, we want change,” he said in a one on one interview with Magnetic Media.

The nature of the situation Saunders explained to our news team was that his bid to challenge the Premier was registered late and there was a resulting vote on whether his late bid should be accepted on the vote of two-thirds of delegates or if he could push through with less support. The response was a resounding ‘no’ with 58 voting in his favor and 88 against.

Saunders wasn’t the only one throwing his hat in the ring for control of the governing PNP party. 

Jas Walkin, now the suspended North Caicos District Commissioner and Dameko Dean, former Wheeland party hopeful had also made a grab at the mantle but were not included in the National General Congress runoff.

Walkin publicly withdrew his bid in a statement which read, in part, “I received an email on February 6, 2024 from the Secretary-General confirming that my candidacy for leadership was approved,” but he continued in explanation for his sudden withdrawal from the race that, “Unfortunately my push has been halted, and I have to officially withdraw my candidacy for leadership of the Progressive National Party.  On Thursday, February 22nd 2024 at 4:36 p.m., I received a letter from the Head of the Public Service advising me that Her Excellency the Governor had received confirmation of my candidacy for leadership from an Executive Member of the Progressive National Party, NEC and if I was to attend the Congress or proceed with my candidacy/race for leadership on Saturday, February 24th 2024; I would be disciplined.”

The series of events has left the PNP rushing to maintain its image of a unified party. 

Kyle Knowles, Party Chairman released a statement immediately after, calling for togetherness.

”We can announce that the Party Leader Hon. Charles W. Misick has been reconfirmed to continue guiding our party forward.The Congress showcased democracy in action—where everyone’s voice matters, opinions are respected, and decisions are made transparently. It was a display of unity, civility, and passionate debate, highlighting our dedication to democratic values and founding principles of the PNP.”

The nature of the vote and Congress, carried out without invitation to the press or major announcement to the people of the Turks and Caicos worked to further fuel confusion and rumor. While it may have been labeled ‘party business’ the eventual winner will be a public servant, funded by the people’s purse.

The hush-hush tone of process has left some residents disappointed in the process of the governing party.

“At the end of the day, you will never know unless the voting public gets an opportunity to decide who should be their next leader.”

While Jas Walkin has reportedly been suspended from his job as the District Commissioner for North Caicos, E. Jay Saunders is still serving in his position as the deputy party leader, deputy premier and minister for finance, investment and trade – all of which are roles he holds at the pleasure of the Premier.

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Caribbean News

Morgan Heritage Member dies

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#MorganHeritage#PeterMorgan, February 26th, 2024 – Peter Morgan, member of the Grammy Winning Jamaican Reggae Band Morgan Heritage, died on Sunday February 25th at the age of 46. His family made the announcement on Instagram, however the cause of his death was not mentioned. Morgan Heritage, an all family group, children to Jamaican reggae artist Denroy Morgan, was known for hits like “She’s Still loving me.”

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Caribbean News

Jamaica Local Govt Elections held

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Jamaica#LocalGovElections, February 26th, 2024 – Jamaica’s long awaited local government elections were held today February 26th, after being postponed on several occasions since November of 2020. Reports indicate that just over two million Jamaicans are eligible to vote and that the electoral system was well prepared with a total of 6,726 polling stations in 2,148 locations across the island, open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Voters selected from 496 nominated candidates across the island. The date for results is yet to be announced

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