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Argentina and the UK host Joint Covid Vaccine Webinar with focus on Latin America and the Caribbean

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#Caribbean – December 17, 2020- Argentina and the UK hosted a virtual seminar on access to vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean addressing the portfolio of emerging vaccines against Covid-19, the challenge of equitable distribution and how best to tackle vaccine disinformation.

On 14 December 2020, Argentina’s Health Minister, Ginés González García and the UK’s Minister of State for the Americas, Wendy Morton MP opened the virtual seminar “Vaccine profiles, distribution challenges and countering vaccine disinformation in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

The event brought together senior officials and medical experts from across the region to discuss efforts to bring the Covid-19 pandemic to an end and how best to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

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Representatives from 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and 11 nations from other regions joined leaders from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance, The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Caribbean Health Agency, and The Vaccine Confidence Project.

Doctor Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO, updated attendees on the rapid progress of the COVAX Facility, the global initiative working with governments and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that all countries, no matter their economic circumstances, will have fair and equitable access to vaccines. Both Argentina and the UK back the COVAX Facility and its work to pool the international community’s collective resources, to share and mitigate risks, and to expedite vaccine development and manufacturing.

Diverse Portfolio

The seminar reviewed the emerging portfolio of Covid-19 vaccine candidates and the importance of a diverse range of safe and effective vaccines to enable distribution and delivery at the scale required to end the acute phase of the pandemic. Given the global scale of that challenge, the answer will not lie with one successful vaccine or one single country; a wide range of vaccines, as is being supported by the COVAX Facility, is needed to take into account the many different country contexts and to ensure diverse population groups can be reached as quickly and effectively as possible. Participants addressed the urgent need for investment in specialised distribution infrastructure for that mass vaccination effort, both in the short and long-term, to ensure that we have the structural resilience in place to tackle Covid-19 and future health emergencies.

The event also shared emerging best practice on efforts to counter disinformation and vaccine hesitancy, factors which risk prolonging the crisis by inhibiting people taking up Covid-19 vaccines. Participants agreed transparency, openness and proactive and positive communications were key to overcome vaccine hesitancy and combat disinformation.

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This UK-Argentina seminar is the third in a series of joint events with the region. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Wendy Morton, representing the UK, said:

“I am delighted that the UK is hosting this event with Argentina, a key partner in the global and regional response to Covid-19 playing a vital role in vaccines development and manufacturing in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The UK is committed to ensuring a truly global response to Covid-19, both through events like today’s and through our investment in the world’s multilateral response, including the COVAX Facility. We are proud backers of COVAX as the best mechanism to deliver a truly global response to the pandemic and to realise our goal of equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for all.”

Argentina’s Health Minister, Ginés González García said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis, it is a human crisis that has revealed, as never before, the vulnerabilities of health systems around the world. However, it provides a unique opportunity to rethink more equitable, inclusive and sustainable societies”.

The UK has pledged up to £548m to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment, which supports access to vaccines for lower and middle-income countries. This is in addition to the UK’s commitment to COVAX as a self-funding nation.

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Caribbean News

Police De-Briefing with TCI Governor Daniel-Selvaratnam

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#TurksandCaicos#Anti-Crime, February 23rd, 2024 – De-briefing Acting Commissioner of Police Christopher Eyre held a meeting with Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and Member of Parliament for Grand Turk North, the Hon. Otis Morris, today (February 21st ) at Police Headquarters, Airport Road, Providenciales.

The debriefing was to discuss concerns raised by residents during last evening’s Anti-Crime Town Hall meeting at the H.J Robinson High School, Grand Turk. Commissioner Eyre expressed his deep appreciation to Her Excellency and Hon Morris for their attendance, saying that work was already underway to address the community concerns.

Commissioner Eyre said: “I acknowledge the challenges raised and wish to assure you that the Executive of the RTCIPF remains steadfast in ensuring the TCI is safe. We listened to your concerns, and I assure you that rebuilding trust and strengthening community-policing relations are top priorities.“

The RTCIPF has taken a holistic approach in the fight against crime. Increased visibility, greater stakeholder collaborations and ongoing dialogue forums to appraise you will occur. We are accountable to you.”

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Caribbean News

Too much secrecy with Airport Tax increase says former Deputy Premier Sean Astwood

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Tax, February 23rd, 2024 – “The TCIAA should not be allowed to announce and implement new or increased taxes or fees in this already difficult financial climate without more details,” says Sean Astwood, Former Deputy Premier regarding the increase in the  Airport Development Fee from $20 to $35 describing the increase as not proactive but premature.

Astwood said there were a number of questions that he believed every Turks and Caicos Islander should ask and have the right to know the answers to including ‘Why now?’

The Opposition PDM member pointed out that only one airport has international flights and it would soon undergo a change in structure, paired with the ‘unexplainable’ delay in the completion of the airport in South Caicos and the possibility of ongoing negotiations in relation to the one in North Caicos, he queried: ‘Why not wait to see what amount or step may be needed in facilitating services in these Airports before a hike in fees?’

“In this climate, taxpayers must have more information and the benefit of a complete picture from not just the TCIAA Chiefs but from the Premier himself. The people must know what the current earnings of the TCIAA is; how has the management of the Airports increased to warrant such a large increase; how much does it cost to operate all of these airports; what is the estimated increase in revenue and how will these monies be used,” the former DP said.

He also questioned the avalanche of resignations that had recently affected the TCIAA

“I have serious concerns with the Premier’s oversight of this matter knowing that the TCIAA is no doubt experiencing a major problem with the vast number of Turks and Caicos Islanders resigning from their positions including high level positions. This alone requires a more in-depth investigation.”

Astwood also demanded information about the ongoing canopy project at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International which should have been completed in less than six months but was running on two years.

“TCIAA has quickly developed a reputation for big spending recently and stalled projects. We need answers as taxpayers. Why now? How much do you intend to raise? How will it be used? The people deserve a response. In a “proactive” step, this information must be provided to the public before this increase is implemented,” he ended.

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Caribbean News

Justice system instructed to improve coordination 

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Violence, February 23rd, 2024 – Violence exploded in the Turks and Caicos between January 26 and February 2nd, and with signs pointing to the involvement of recently released convicts the National Security Council is on a mission to reduce the risk of flare ups when offenders rejoin society.

The Police Force, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and other criminal Justice partners have now been instructed to review how they coordinate with each other and complete their specific roles to support case progression. Assessments about public safety in respect to offenders during bail hearings are also to be given keen attention.

The NSC is also planning to engage with the Judiciary as part of this review to help with delivering verdicts in a timely manner,

Called after the January 26 killing in Grand Turk which allegedly involved a former inmate, the meeting gathered law enforcement and other partners so that the NSC could get a sense of how effectively they were working with each other to ‘secure criminal justice outcomes.’

“The NSC— sought briefings on the effectiveness of liaison between the RTCIPF, the office of the DPP and wider criminal justice agencies in respect of case progression, including the assessments made to public safety that inform representations at bail hearings,” a statement revealed.

The information detailing the January 30th NSC meeting was released on February 2nd.

With senior leadership from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF), the TCI Regiment, TCI Border Force, HMP and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the room, the NSC looked into two incidents involving recently released inmates.

Two days after the meeting the NSC chairs had to be briefed again about another incident involving a former inmate where two men were left dead on February 1.

The Council headed jointly by Washington Misick, TCI Premier and Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam, TCI Governor says the risk reduction strategies discussed in the meeting NSC will seek to address HMP exit arrangements and risks to public safety.

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