#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – October 22, 2020 — Amid fears of rapid Covid-19 spread on the voting day, the Elections Department proposed advance polling for Coronavirus patients and those in quarantine centres to curb the possible spread of the deadly virus.
According to a statement by the Department of Elections, those who have tested positive for Coronavirus, and quarantined, will be permitted to vote a day before the general elections late this year or early next year.
The proposed amendments to the Election Ordinance prescribes several measures to avert the risk of a rapid spread of the virus during the polling process.
In light of the Coronavirus presence in the island region, the amendment to the TCI Election Ordinance aims at maintaining voters’ safety during the pandemic.
In the statement sent to the public on October 13, 2020, the Supervisor of Elections Dudley Lewis urged members of the public to provide feedback through hard copies or email addresses provided in the statement.
According to the statement sent out last week, voters who wish to vote should apply for approval from the supervisor within ten days of the statement.
The statement further explained any individual approved by the supervisor to vote in the advance poll would enjoy full support and rights, identical to those upheld on general election day expected late this year or early 2021.
However, the approved voters will be required to authenticate their approval to participate in the advance polls or be denied the chance to vote at the advanced poll.
“A voter who is approved to vote at an Advance Poll shall be allowed to vote in like manner as he would have been entitled to do on the day appointed for taking the poll, except that he shall not be allowed to vote at advance poll unless he produces proof of approval to vote at Advance Poll,” reads part of the statement.
The elections supervisor also stated that there are safety protocols in place instituted by the top Medical Officer in a bid to control and regulate Coronavirus positive voters and those in the quarantine facilities.
Additional safety protocols have also been established for voters diagnosed with Coronavirus, and those under quarantine are hopeful of participating in the advance polls.
The Proposed Safety Protocols
According to the Department of Elections statement, any voter tested positive or from quarantine who wishes to take part in upcoming advance polls should make and submit an appeal to the Elections Supervisor within ten days from the day the statement was issued, but not later.
When the request is accepted, the voter should inform the officials from the Ministry of Health about his/her intention to go to the polling station before leaving the isolation facility for the officers to prepare.
Besides that, the voter will also be required to produce proof of permission to participate in the advance polls before gaining access to the polling station.
Additionally, the voter should use a private or personal car to go to the polling station.
While at the station, he or she must put on an N95 or KN95 mask covering the mouth and nose, gloves, face shield, and a disposable gown.
The voter should also keep a physical distance of at least six feet from others at the station as much as is practical.
Moreover, the advanced safety protocols state that the voter should comply with all other protocols set at the station and wash their hands with soap for at least 20-seconds to kill any covid-19 virus that might have come into contact with the hands.
Also, traveling to and from the quarantine facilities by the voters is restricted to direct routes only, and the voter should return to the isolation centres immediately after casting a vote.
After the polling exercise is over, the used polling stations will undergo deep cleaning in preparation for the main polling day.
If the proposal is approved, the advance election polling process is expected to kick-off at 8.00 AM and wrap up at 4.00 PM.
Consultation on the proposal concluded October 21.
By Magnetic Media Editorial Department
Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.
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.
Cruising should slow down says PAHO
By Dana Malcolm
‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.
“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.
Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
By Sherrica Thompson
#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.
“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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