#TurksandCaicos, June 19, 2021 – “Turks and Caicos and a particular welcome to all on this parade. Let me compliment you on your turnout, your foot and rifle drill and your bearing.
It is the 95th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In our national Anthem we sing “Long to Reign Over Us” and she most certainly has. She is the longest-reigning monarch in English History, surpassing the reign of Queen Victoria six years ago.
In those 95 years of life she has been our Monarch for 69 of them. She has been on the throne during the time in office of 14 British Prime Ministers and 14 US Presidents, the first being Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Harry S Truman respectively. A remarkable record of Service and of experience.
It is therefore entirely appropriate that we link this Parade with the notion of ‘service’, and also longevity of ‘service’. Service as personified by those stood before me today, who I have had the privilege to inspect, and who stand before our nation. As all of us here thank Her Majesty for Her Service to us, I, on Her Majesty’s behalf, and on behalf of the people of this Territory, thank you for your service to the People of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This year thirteen have 30 years of service, two have 25 years of service and twenty eight have 18 years of service. This year they come from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, Her Majesty’s Prison, the Customs Department and Immigration Department. They of course share in common the concept of ‘enforcement’.
Enforcement takes skill and judgement and of course physical and moral courage. Wield your powers in to draconian a way and in the end there is a loss of public consent. Wield them too lightly, and there is a loss of respect not just for you, as an individual, but for the very law itself and at that point society starts to unravel. You carry a heavier constitutional burden than many understand.
If I may, at this Parade, I wish to particularly offer my thanks and respect to the Prison Service who marched past with pride today. An extraordinary change occurred at the Prison this year and that was due to leadership, teamwork and getting that balance of enforcement in exactly the right place.
To keep you out of the burning sun – and because there was no parade last year so the list is long – I will present medals today only to those Police Officers serving in Grand Turk. For those Police Officers in Providenciales we will present your medals at a Commissioners Parade later in the Summer which will also give the people of Providenciales the opportunity to enjoy the spectacle of the Police Band and your foot and rifle drill.
Moving away from this parade ground for a moment, and on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Birthday, and given the loss she suffered of her consort and most loyal supporter, I would also pay homage to Her late husband, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his life, he dedicated his time to many issues close to his heart. Two of them are worth dwelling on for a moment.
So first allow me to recognise the young people and their teachers with us today. The late Duke’s mission was to develop and empower young people to realise their potential. There is a moment in every child’s life when that potential is limitless but also their lives require focus and purpose. As a result he founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award. 13 million award journeys; 6 million awards gained; and 120 million hours of voluntary service achieved. One unique international accreditation, reaching 168 countries, over 65 years.
Young people from TCI have received in the past their Silver Awards through regional events and one young woman was presented her Gold Award by the Duke of Edinburgh himself. The Police Cadets, represented here today, and the British West Indies Collegiate, have run program’s to deliver the late Duke’s vision to inspire and invest in our youth, allow them to discover their potential, learn new skills and most important, forge new friendships along the way. This is how self-confidence and self-discipline builds something that our Cadets on parade today exemplify who are a credit to themselves, their parents and the wider community.
The Cadets are not for everyone, I accept, and as the consequences of pandemic subside I hope we might look again at the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme as one of many approaches to developing the child here in TCI. Our own children participated in the scheme, gained much from it, and myself and Mandy stand ready to support and will be looking to re-energise this program during the coming year.
As a former President of the World Wildlife Fund, the late Duke was also personally engaged in wildlife and environmental issues; a theme that runs throughout the entire Royal family. On the occasion of Her Majesty’s Birthday, her son, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has sent out a message to the world drawing attention to the environmental tragedy that is impacting us all.
The protection of our environment against climate change and preserving our natural assets for many generations to come is increasingly seen as a global priority.
Climate change is reaching a tipping point. Humanity’s relationship with our beautiful planet is incredibly precious but endangered. Whilst we retain hope for the future, a degree or two more and we risk losing both our coral reefs and our beaches.
The world organises around a Climate Change Summit this year hosted in the UK. It’s known as COP26. The Overseas Territories have between them extraordinary environments hosting amazing bio-diversity from the Antarctic to the Indian Ocean, to the Mediterranean and the Pacific, and of course closer to home here in the Caribbean.
We in TCI steward, on behalf of the planet, the third largest barrier reef in the world. An extraordinary responsibility and while we are ‘Beautiful by Nature’ we know all too well, that as the seas warm, and as we are at the start of the Hurricane season, we are at the mercy of nature who does not always show us here her ‘beauty’ but also her extraordinary destructive power.
It is entirely in our interests, in TCI, to stop sea temperatures rising, and sea levels rising, and so let us all play our part – small as it may seem – and protect our marine life; our crystal clear waters; our beautiful beaches; and the mangrove and vegetation that surrounds us through local initiatives to reduce waste and fossil fuel energy consumption in our beautiful by nature islands.
Forty Six Thousand people cannot change the world alone, because it will take a global effort, but as a small island state who bears the full brunt of nature’s capriciousness we should provide leadership to the world in all that we do.
I end on welcoming, for the first time, the newest addition of those who serve TCI to this parade ground, if not this parade. You will see members of the Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment stood near to myself and the Premier today. This small contingent, who form the regular nucleus of our Regiment, will be joined next month by our own newly recruited reserve Marines who will undergo basic training run right here in TCI by the British Army, in July.
Next year, the TCI Regiment, seasoned through their first Hurricane Season and having been operational in support of our Maritime Police, and twinned with one of the British Army’s most prestigious Regiment’s ‘The Rifles’, will be stood on this Parade Ground joining you – the remarkable people of TCI who put yourselves before others in service of our Territory. That will be a remarkable Parade and, God willing, I intend to be here, to take that salute.
So may God Bless Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. May God bless the Turks and Caicos Islands. May God bless all those before me and everything you represent in terms of serving our people, following the example that Her Majesty herself has set over an extraordinary life. ‘Long May She Reign Over us. God Save the Queen’.
Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge
By Shaniek Smith
#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.
It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.
In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced. Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations. The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.
The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season. The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.
In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.
The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI. It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.
“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.
Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.
Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.
Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.
“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.
Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.
He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.
“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.
Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.
Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.
Over 5000 COVID cases on Cruises, CDC investigations launched
By Dana Malcolm
#January 15, 2022 – Cruises have continued across the Americas despite the US Centers for Disease Control dire warning that even vaccinated individuals should be wary of them. Now the CDC informs that Coronavirus cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters.
According to the CDC, all 92 ships with passengers have met the threshold for investigation by the public health agency. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated.
The CDC warned travellers including those who are vaccinated to avoid cruising in December, following the announcement videos surfaced of jam-packed cruise ships with unmasked passengers ringing in the New Year.
Meanwhile, Grand Turk is still welcoming cruise ships. Eleven cruise ships are scheduled to dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center throughout January, according to the port schedule.
Jamell Robinson, TCI Minister of Health has confirmed that ships have been allowed to dock in Grand Turk with positive COVID cases on board.
He said. “Now in each ship there are stations or places for isolation on board…Just because a vessel has people with Covid-19 on it doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t allow them to disembark.”
The minister explained the number of positive cases recorded on cruise ships that had arrived in Grand Turk was .001 per cent of all guests and they were not allowed to disembark.
So far, Turks and Caicos has turned away at least one cruise liner due to fears of COVID exposure in the capital, which has gone from a handful of active cases to now 111, as of January 14.
The US Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases on cruise ships have increased to 30 times what they were in mid-December.
New York, US Epicenter for Omicron “turning the corner”
By Shanieka Smith
#USA, January 15, 2022 – Today, New York is seeing a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, as officials revealed, “we are turning the corner” on Friday in updating on the state of affairs in the city, labelled the epicenter of omicron for the United States.
Before, data from the New York State Department of Health showed that the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents in the State, rose from 29.8 in the first week of December to 222.3 last week. Also, the rate of new cases in unvaccinated adults rose from 239.6 to 1,583.1 per 100,000.
New York is a key source market for the Turks and Caicos and much of the Caribbean, which is heavily reliant upon winter travellers. The data showed, too, that vaccine effectiveness against severe infection remained high.
Only 4.59 fully vaccinated adults out of 100,000 were hospitalised with COVID-19 in the week of December 27. However, that number increased, and the hospitalisation rate for the unvaccinated is nearly 13 times higher.
New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20% in recent days, but media reports indicate the death toll in the State hit a startling high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout.
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