#TurksandCaicos, February 6, 2021 – Skillful negotiations, a willingness to safeguard its vulnerable territories and remarkable roll out of the first batch of the UK-gifted Covid-19 vaccine have brought the Turks and Caicos Islands even more good fortune; an additional 23,400 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine courtesy of the United Kingdom.
“Again, that is without cost to TCI. That will allow us to vaccinate 40% of the population by May and that will start to make us one of the safest places to live, let alone one of the safest tourist destinations, in the world. Please keep registering on the portal,” said the Governor in a media statement issued on Friday.
“At 15%, we are now on course of being one of the world leaders in terms of the percentage of our population being vaccinated, particularly taking into account we have already started with second inoculations. We will receive double the previous amount of vaccines during week beginning 22 February; that is 23,400 doses.”
This week, Turks and Caicos achieved a tremendous milestone. All of the first doses of the vaccine were administered; exceeding expectations. The roll out included all islands and will exhaust the first 9,750 vaccines well ahead of the March 31 expiry date of the first batch.
“Looking back we were initially uncertain if we could use all the vaccine by the end of March when the ‘use by date’ expired; in fact we achieved this goal by the end of January. The partnership with the private sector has been instrumental in this, has worked extremely well, and the delivery at the hospitals has, we believe, been first class. TCI have also rolled out, for the first time, an Electronic Immunization records (EIR) System to the benefit of both public and private medical sectors; so new ways of working are coming on stream too.
The first phase of the vaccination programme has gone extremely well. The Team tasked to deliver this have beaten every target that was set in terms of engagement, the speed of delivery, our stewardship of the vaccine and our reach. So long as residents volunteered the Team prioritised: our senior citizens; those with underlying conditions and those on the front line. We have also been able to touch every Island and every age group. This has demonstrated we can use the Pfizer vaccine throughout the archipelago.”
The team was led by co-chairs, Her Excellency Anya Williams, Deputy Governor and Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier with the public awareness marshalled by Dr. Virignia Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies.
“The public information campaign seems to have helped and now there is momentum, amongst the population, with most of the major questions answered, and much nonsense on social media dispelled, we will continue to refine our engagement towards groups who are reluctant or particularly vulnerable. Many Pastors have been diligent in their engagement with us, informing themselves and through them informing others.”
Hindering skepticism in the territory, has waned; helped by the record levels of Covid-19 infections, three deaths so far in 2021 and a string of “myth-busting” meetings where country leaders and medical professionals addressed various groups.
“We respect everyone’s view, and their right to choose, but equally we don’t want anyone left behind because they either lacked the information they needed, or in some way feared access to a vaccine that we believe is their right to have.”
The territory has a unique demographic; the majority of adults are expatriate workers and as legal residents, many of the work permit holders were queued up in strong numbers for the free vaccine. The governor said things have changed dramatically.
“Towards the end of this first vaccination period it was extremely encouraging to see more and more Turks Islanders coming forward. As of today (Thursday 5th February) we have vaccinated 6,114 persons (with a first dose); by census that is close to 15% of our population which makes TCI a world leader.”
Any question about the Governor’s sincerity in seeing residents protected by the vaccine could have been shelved when he and his wife Mandy were first to get the jab; but a tragic event further dismisses the notion that the governor is not sincerely supportive of the vaccine as the way to security and safety.
Millions in countries like the United Kingdom are standing in an unfathomably long line for their shots; Mr. John Dakin, the governor’s father, was one of them. The elder Dakin died in January 2021 to the coronavirus while resident in a care home in the UK.
“Those who have yet to receive the vaccine, and wish to, can usefully register on the portal. If you do, we will get to you. If you know someone who needs help in accessing the Portal, please help them. Our aim is to vaccinate every resident in TCI, who wishes to be vaccinated, and our goal is to reach herd immunity as soon as we can. Our aspiration of being a world leader, and one of the safest destinations in the world once our population is vaccinated, is no longer just an aspiration but a reality – should you, TCI’s residents, wish it to be so. If you want to be part of this future register on www.covidvaccineregistration.gov.tc
This is over twice the amount we received last time and it will allow us to fully vaccinate more than 11,000 further residents. When we achieve that – which we will – we will have provided the vaccine (both doses) to 40% of our population. We hope to have done that by May.”
The vaccine should arrive the week of February 22. The vaccine will continue to be free and voluntary.
Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne
By Shanieka Smith
#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne. The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.
Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.
Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.
Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show
By Dana Malcolm
#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.
He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.
While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.
“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”
He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue. The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.
“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”
Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”
“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.
He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.
“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”
Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.
JAMAICA: Government Revenues Soar
#Kingston, November 25, 2022 – There has been a jump in Government revenue collection, with tax revenues for the first six months of the fiscal year exceeding budget by $35 billion.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, said that the out-turn is as a result of higher-than-expected economic performance.
“The first quarter growth came out at 5.7 per cent… and all categories of revenue are over budget. Revenues from income and profits are up by nearly 13 per cent or $10 billion,” Dr. Clarke said.
In addition, he noted that revenues from production and consumption are up by seven per cent or $7 billion and revenues from international trade are up by 15 per cent or $18 billion. Revenues from motor-vehicle licences for the first six months of this year are 16 per cent higher than budgeted.
Dr. Clarke was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 22) where the First Supplementary Estimates for 2022/23 were approved.
The approval reflects a revised expenditure of $971 billion, from the previously approved budget of $912 billion for the financial year.
Minister Clarke said the First Supplementary Estimates come within the context of positive overperformance of the economy.
“As a result of this revenue overperformance… we are able to come to this Parliament six months after and put a Budget that proposes $60 billion in new expenditure,” Dr. Clarke said.
The largest component of the supplementary budget is the allocation for public-sector salaries and wages in keeping with the restructuring of compensation.
“We are allocating $16 billion there and there is another $2 billion to the Ministry of Health and Wellness and then about $3 billion for statutory deductions, making a total of $21 billion,” the Minister said.
Contact: Latonya Linton
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