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Turks and Caicos deserves better than Level 3 Travel Alert from US; Health Minister to contact CDC

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#TurksandCaicos, June 9, 2021 – The Minister of Health of the Turks and Caicos Islands wants to know why the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes it is fair to warn its citizens against travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands with a Level 3 Travel Alert issued for the country.

The Level 3 Alert comes following a new evaluation of the TCI and is a lowered rating; an improvement from a higher risk Level 4 Alert, still the Health Minister and Deputy Premier has expressed his disagreement.

“I’m not happy with it.  We are doing everything we can to keep the numbers down and the rating is shocking,” said the Minister in a phone call with our news organization moments after the advisory was issued.

“Based on our results, we should not be considered a high risk destination.  The CDC rating is wrong and they need to take another look at this,” conveyed the Minister who was fuming over the meager drop.

The new rating came on Tuesday June 1, 2021.

Turks and Caicos has done well.  From hundreds of cases weeks ago to now, 10 individuals confirmed to have Covid-19.  The positivity rate is down to below 1.1 per cent and 52 per cent of adults in the UK Overseas territory are now fully vaccinated; 60 per cent having taken one jab.

When he joined Premier Washington Misick for a 100-days Press Conference on June 2, Hon Saunders told the nation, he is going to challenge the rating by the CDC.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that the CDC only reduced us to Level 3.  I personally believe that by putting us on a Level 3 it does not reflect the hard work that we have done.  I think it is disproportionate at best and I think it is arbitrary at worst,” said Hon Saunders.

The Level 3 Travel Advisory tells American residents, “Reconsider travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in the Turks and Caicos Islands due to crime.”

The Minister plans to ask the CDC to take another look. 

“I will personally reach out to the CDC to find out what criteria they’ve used and what formula they’ve used that landed the Turks and Caicos on Level 3, so we know how to address it going forward.”

Turks and Caicos had been aiming for a positivity rate of below 3 per cent and is on a quest to get 70 per cent of adults vaccinated, with a fourth batch of Covid-19 vaccines planned to arrive in the territory on June 20 from the United Kingdom.

Only one of the variant strains of the Coronavirus has been detected in Turks and Caicos; the U.K. B.1.1.7. variant where six cases were caught in samples sent to the CARPHA Laboratory between February and April 2021.  

A May 20 PAHO Report showed significant turn-around in Turks and Caicos; high vaccine uptake, low positivity rate for the virus, strong testing and no deaths in nearly four months.

A new death, with Covid-19 identified as the cause, was reported on Sunday (June 6) by the TCI Hospitals and Ministry of Health.  A Haitian woman is the latest to die of the virus in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

While some in the tourism industry are unperturbed by the CDC High risk rating and its effect on travel to Turks and Caicos, others say it rattles traveler confidence.

The UK, in its traffic light system, is expected to lift some Caribbean countries to a Green Light rating; Turks and Caicos has been pegged to be one such destination.

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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