TCI News

One day record 289 COVID tests; TCI Health Minister updates the House of Assembly

#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – November 5, 2020 — The highest single day of COVID-19 testing in Turks and Caicos was the day before Halloween, October 30 and the results were far from scary; they were quite satisfying for the Ministry of Health. 

“On Friday past, October 30, we completed more than 289 tests on that day; 142 performed in the National Public Health Laboratory and 147 performed in the Private Laboratories. This is our highest single day of testing to date.  From this testing day, we identified 2 new cases of COVID-19,” said Minister Edwin Astwood during his ministerial statement in the House of Assembly on November 3.

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Turks and Caicos has continued to experience declines in new cases of the coronavirus.  The decrease follows a string of restrictions including curfews, limited numbers on social gatherings at hang outs and restaurants and a TCI Police-enforced ticketing system.

The Minister of Health believes the low number of positives from community testing supports a low prevalence of COVID-19 within Turks and Caicos; and he believes behavioral changes of residents have been key to keeping new cases down.

“As I mentioned on Thursday Press Conference, Mr. Speaker, we are seeing a decline in the rate of growth in COVID-19 cases, which is a positive early sign. It is proof that collectively, by making simple changes to our everyday lives, we can reduce transmission, bend, and flatten the curve. It is another reminder of our collective power. But, unfortunately, this is not a cause for relaxation,” said the minister on Tuesday.

Restrictions have been eased and include a later curfew; now at 12 a.m. ending at 5 a.m.  Other relaxed restrictions were announced in a press conference last Thursday.  Minister Astwood repeated them during his House of Assembly presentation: “Restrictions on businesses: From yesterday, the 2nd November, 2020, to 5:00 a.m. on 16th November 2020; All businesses shall suspend operations to the general public at 11:00 p.m.; and funeral services and burial grounds from 2nd November 2020, to 5:00 a.m. on 16th November 2020, a maximum number of forty persons may be permitted to attend a funeral service, provided that such funeral services shall be held outdoors. Wedding Ceremonies: from 2nd November 2020, to 5:00 a.m. on 16th November 2020, a maximum number of forty persons may be permitted to attend a wedding ceremony, indoor or outdoor. Restrictions on domestic travel: From 2nd November 2020, to 5:00 am on the 16th November, 2020, there will be NO RESTRICTIONS on Domestic Travel.”

The opening of domestic travel on November 2 marked the first time since March residents and guests have been able to freely travel between the islands of the TCI.

The Minister reminded residents to continue practicing the healthy protocols which have worked to stem the spread of the virus, which has killed at least six Turks and Caicos residents.  It was made clear that personal behavior and the positive case rate will continue to govern whether or not restrictions continue to be rolled back or if they are tightened for the sake of public health.

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“Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear: that the Government is very concerned about any addition to the COVID numbers, and would continue with the phased opening of the country. I want to reassure all that your Government is looking seriously at the spread, and determining, what our next steps should be. I know that – after more than half a year, we are all tired of COVID-19 and the restrictions. But, Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 is not tired of us, so we must remain vigilant Mr. Speaker.”

During a press conference today, November 5, the Ministry of Health confirmed there are currently seven active cases of COVID-19 in Turks and Caicos; six of which are in Providenciales and one new case in North Caicos which was identified through community testing. Ninety-eight percent of the 705 cases are listed as recovered.

There are no COVID-19 hospitalisations in Turks and Caicos.

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