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TCI: Health Minister challenges CDC over Covid Risk rating; Gets it ‘adjusted’ to Level 1

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#TurksandCaicos, June 10, 2021 – The Minister of Health went to bat for the reputation of the Turks and Caicos and not only did he make it to first base, but he scored a home run.  Turks and Caicos is now removed from the Level 3, high risk rating for Covid-19  to Level 1, low risk rating and it is a win for the country.

In speaking to DP E Jay Saunders following the remarkable and positive change of rating for the Turks and Caicos he explained, as promised, he did contact the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cabinet supported the decision to challenge the CDC on its rating and the CDC was asked to look at the health data from Turks and Caicos with “new lenses”, said the Deputy Premier.

“We said to them, how is it Turks and Caicos has these numbers and is still rated high risk?”

The data to which the Health Minister and Deputy Premier refers  is a less than 1.1 per cent positivity rate for the coronavirus over 28 days and vaccination uptake is at 60 per cent for those having had their first jab, 52 percent fully vaccinated. 

Not only does the adjusted rating take Turks and Caicos from being a self-declared safe destination, but the Level 1 rating is a certifiable label which Hon Saunders affirmed “is good for the tourism industry.”

It also validates the hard work of the Government, Ministry of Health & Hospitals and the residents of the Turks and Caicos, who together made sacrifices to shift the once dire situation.

 Four months ago, when the Progressive National Party took office, Turks and Caicos was with 280 active cases of Covid-19 and six islands were reporting infections.  There were 15 people in hospital and 799 individuals were in self isolation or quarantine.  Today, there are only eight active cases on the island of Providenciales, with one person hospitalised for the virus.  All other islands have no recorded cases and at least one island is fully open, with over 90 per cent of its residents vaccinated for the coronavirus; Salt Cay.

Saunders said on Monday, the CDC responded with an email to inform the error was in their calculation and that their new standard was not applied to Turks and Caicos. 

In other words, no one from the CDC checked for any improvements on the ground in the British Overseas Territory; the harsh rating was – as the Saunders had pointed out – arbitrarily given.  

The CDC explained it is using a new formula, but that methodology was not used on the TCI.  No reason for the mistake and no apology for the error were given. 

What the CDC did say in that email was it altered its threshold from 100 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.

Had the Deputy Premier not contacted the CDC to request a review of the health data, the TCI would very likely have remained at high risk with a warning to ‘Avoid travel’ which would make the destination less attractive to travellers. 

Photo caption:  We Funk Junakoo Group performs at TCI Tourist Board conference.  Photo from TCI Tourist Board

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Caribbean News

Grants for farmers

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#TurksandCaicos, January 31, 2023 – Good Morning to my colleagues in government, I recognize……..and most importantly good morning to the farmers. It is my pleasure today to have you here at this award ceremony.  For the very first time in Turks and Caicos, farmers are getting relief for hurricane damage.

This shows that the government is committed to ensuring that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have access to a constant and nutritious supply of food, reduce the food import bill and retain money in the local economy. Food Security is the foundation of all human needs. Given the threat to the global supply chain and growing inaccessibility to enough nutritious food, the Government is committed to supporting the farmers to produce local food, to supplement the food requirement of the country. My government’s priority is to provide an enabling environment, to facilitate local investment within the Agriculture Sector as outlined in the People’s Plan for Empowerment

In February last year (2022) my government launched the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro-Grant Incentive). This Finance Support Program for farmers is the first program of this kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands and shows Government’s mandate is to invest heavily in local food production through providing financial support. My government has allocated US$250,000.00 in this first year to promote agriculture development. This Finance Program has 3 areas of support

  • Improvement Programmes – to upgrade farms, Existing registered farmers who wish to perform farm upgrades can receive a maximum of $20,000
  • New Farm Start Up/Young Entrepreneurs– For new or younger farmers between the ages of 18-25 years can receive a maximum of $15,000
  • Disaster Relief – this is specifically in response to National Natural Disasters “Acts of Nature” inclusive of earthquake, hurricane and storms and other approved natural disasters. The value of this grant will be 10% of the assessed damages (up to a maximum of $20,000 USD

To date 12 farmers have received grants in the first 2 categories. Today we are here to give disaster relief to those registered farmers who would have suffered from losses due to the passage of hurricane Fiona in September last year.

Government knows that Farming is an expensive business, farmers livelihood depends on the investment they make on their farms. We live in a small island state that is vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricane. These disasters can have devastating effects on farms, destroying years of productive work and effort farmers would have put in.

Government in recognizing the important contribution farmers make to Food security and the vulnerabilities they face has moved into action to provide much needed support towards the rebuilding of the farms. Today 15 registered will be receiving funds for disaster relief to assist with their rebuilding efforts. This monies I know will be used for the purposes granted.

I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues and Premier for supporting the continued efforts to grow the Agriculture Sector.

My department of Agriculture recognizes farming is dynamic and as such has lobbied Cabinet for continued support. I am pleased to say that in August last year through a Cabinet Paper, government had approved amending the Agriculture Policy to provide full exemption of import duties for farm vehicles registered farmers can now apply through the department for this support. At that meeting we also agreed for the Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive Agro-Incentive Program to support farming in the TCI.

Once again I would like to commend the farmers who are benefiting today for their hard work and dedication and look forward to serving you as your minister

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Bahamas News

U.S. Supports the RBPF With Additional Crime Fighting Vehicles on The Bahamas’ “Road to 50”

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – Since 1973, the United States and The Bahamas have enjoyed a long-lasting security partnership.  To mark this valued friendship, the United States Government, on January 31, 2023, renewed its support for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 20 new Ford Police Inceptor Hybrid SUVs valuing nearly $1.4 million.  The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe and RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander were on hand for the donation at RBPF East Hill Street Headquarters.

The 20 hybrid vehicles will be added to the 32 vehicles previously donated to the RBPF by the US government to help replace crucial infrastructure lost during Hurricane Dorian.  Recovering from a hurricane is an arduous process that requires support at many levels, from roads and housing to mental health services.  The U.S. government hopes these vehicles will contribute to one key step in the process: citizen security.  These vehicles will not only assist the RBPF’s efforts to combat crime but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the islands.

In her remarks Chargé Pitts noted, “these vehicles are just one example of the United States’ continued efforts to help for The Bahamas’ keep its citizens and visitors safe.”

Prime Minister Philip Davis showed his appreciation for this timely vehicle donation as it will assist with added capacity and increased saturation patrols on the streets.  The Prime Minister added that residents will notice an increased police presence and the police will have new capacity to respond quickly to any criminal activity.

RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander highlighted that “we have noticeably taken more illegal firearms and ammunition off our streets in 2022.  We have also seized more illegal drugs including marijuana and marijuana plants than in [previous] years.  Suffice to say, we have efficiently utilized all 32 vehicles previously donated by the U.S. government in our crime fighting efforts.”

In recent years, the U.S. Government, through U.S. Embassy Nassau, has delivered more than $25 million to assist The Bahamas with efforts to fight crime.  On behalf of the Bahamian people, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe extended his gratitude for the U.S. government’s assistance noting “It seems that when we’re together there [is] always an occasion where they [U.S. government] have helped us and assisted us substantially.”

Captions: Credited to U.S. Embassy Nassau

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Caribbean News

BTC Water Sports Department Celebrates with staff

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PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: In a show of appreciation for outstanding service over the past year, particularly with the addition of new offerings following the expansion of the Beaches Turks & Caicos waterpark, the resort management recently held a commemorative function for its dedicated watersports team.

The function, which took the form of a special luncheon in the resort’s lavish ballroom, was spearheaded by the resort’s leadership including General Manager, James McAnally and WaterSports Manager, Mark Henley.

General Manager, James McAnally, (right) presents Nicorge Edward from St Lucia with a token of appreciation at the recently held awards ceremony

McAnally thanked the team  for their unwavering efforts in providing stellar service over the past year and reminded them  “The resort recently received recognition from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) for more than 25 years of certification which means that you as our valued team members, have been providing world-class watersports experience for our guests.”

“Among you, there are three team members who have been recognized for over 60 years of diving experience, combined. As a team, you have all continued to give nothing but outstanding service as you provide amazing experiences for our guests every day.  This is just one way for us to let you know that we see you, and we appreciate you.  Thank you all for your continued support as we remain committed to not only exceeding our guests’ expectations but to also elevate our brand offerings and positioning as the best place to work in the Turks & Caicos Islands,” said McAnally.

For his part, Henley stated, “each of you here today has shown tremendous will and determination to make this resort the best family resort on the Islands. For the three men who have each given more than 21 years of service each, I encourage you to continue to show the way forward to those who are not as experienced in this field. Let us continue to grow as a team, having fun as we work hard together.  We believe that, together everyone achieves more.”

Evanz Inelus, Pool and Waterpark supervisor while sharing his commendation for the team noted, “we are forever a team in this department and the resort in general. As we continue to grow in our professional life, let us look forward to the new year with getting more certifications from the Sandals Corporate University (SCU). Beaches Turks and Caicos has made it possible for us to grow professionally in what we love in this department by allowing us to be certified while we are doing what we enjoy in the water sports department.”

Mamrio Pierre (right) accepts his certification of recognition from Mackenson Petit from the Learning and Development department

Three members of the team were given special recognition for their years of service to the resort; Jacquelin Pierre, Marion Pierre and Charitable Sertune August. Marion Pierre, while sharing his gratitude for the recognition added, “Beaches Turks and Caicos is the best place for anyone to start their career. My team and I are very grateful for this award as the resort continues to build us into becoming the best professionals that we can be. The training and exposure provided, allow us opportunities at other Sandals and Beaches resorts across the Caribbean and to get certification from some of the most recognised institutions in the world. Working with this company has given me and my family the opportunity to live a prosperous and comfortable life.”

Two team members, Jed Arkim Reggie and Nicorge Edward, from Sandals La Toc, St Lucia who were on training and experiencing the resort, were recognised for their contribution to the department. Edward stated, “what I love most about this company is the opportunity to gain professional experience in different cultures and regions. My colleague and I came here to gain valuable leadership experience while learning more about the daily operational duties of the watersports department at this, the largest and most equipped resort. We are grateful for the exposure and look forward to going back home to share the best practices we have learned.”

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