#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