TCI News

People sleeping in cars hoping for help; No testing in TCI creating a Humanitarian crisis

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – September 7, 2020 — People have given up their apartments and are sleeping in their vehicles, some are hanging around just hoping and waiting and others are crying as they plead for assistance, but still there is no help for foreign workers who are out of money, out of time and seemingly out of luck when it comes to having a Covid-19 PCR test done in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

It has now become a humanitarian crisis for some of those who have been, for days, waiting to hear that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government has approved a community-based laboratory, which can perform the desperately needed test. 

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Entry requirements amidst the pandemic continue to be a stranglehold for travel, globally.  It is no longer easy and from the Turks and Caicos to destinations which demand a negative result for COVID-19, it seems impossible.

Government, despite months of outcry, is “stubbornly” holding its positions. 

One, that they will not prioritise testing for travellers and two, that they will not permit anyone else to test or even take swabs in order for results to come from approved laboratories abroad.

It is a mystifying posture, to put it mildly. 

One which is driving people to extremes, including begging for help, camping out at the local lab, Accu Diagnostics and calling media attention to their plight.

No one from the Ministry of Health is speaking.  No one from government is offering any public statement to navigate a way through this manageable dilemma.

A flight out of the Turks and Caicos tomorrow is what nine Filipinos are hoping they are aboard.  The group is made of staff who have resigned or been terminated due to the impact on travel and tourism of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Three stops for the travelers require negative PCR tests; Dominican Republic, Dubai and home in the Philippines.  The DR is a transit stop, with a seven hour layover; but Dubai will not allow the travelers in without a negative test result.  Already, the Filipinos who hope to depart tomorrow will be cutting it close, due to the days within which the negative result has to be provided.

ACCU Diagnostics has submitted the final standard for Ministry of Health approval since this past Thursday.  Four days on and there is no approval and the official authorization is a must for ACCU which would otherwise face criminal offence; warned a Ministry of Health notice on August 31, 2020.

The notice followed a declaration by Edwin Astwood, the Minister of Health, that ACCU Diagnostics was already supporting government’s testing regime and approved as a coronavirus community testing centre.

It turned out to be another useless statement and embarrassing mix-up by the Ministry of Health.

Work permit holders were told by the Government to leave the country if furloughed or terminated.  Work permit holders were also told by the Government it is illegal for them to be in Turks and Caicos unemployed or seeking new employment.  Now, Work Permit holders are being told ‘no’ to requests for coronavirus testing, by the very same Government.

The Filipinos have explained to Magnetic Media, they are “suffering”, want to return to their country and that yes, they are prepared to pay for the COVID-19 test in order to begin that journey home.

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