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No VACCINE mandates from Gov’t Turks & Caicos Islanders, but your Employers could force it



#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – At this point, the Turks and Caicos government will not be altering the public health measures put in place to contain spread of the coronavirus, instead a review for a long term plan is happening said Health Minister Jamell Robinson on Friday October 15 during his National Health update.

We have made significant progress but we are not out of the woods just yet. Our Positivity rate is at 2.0% down from as high as 3.7% and we only have one person hospitalized in relation to COVID-19 directly. We unfortunately, are still on Level 3 on the CDC travel list which I believe is too high but I’m hopeful that we will be moved to least a level 2 after the next round of country assessments,” said Minister Robinson.

In TCI masks are still mandatory, so is physical distancing; capacity rules; mandatory sanitization upon entry to any facility and a 1 a.m. curfew.  When quizzed, the minister explained the reason the Government is not bending when it comes to restrictions.

My Ministry is in the process of reviewing all protocols to find a long-term balance for the safety of lives and livelihoods. We are fast approaching an 80-85 per cent vaccination rate for the adult segment of the population and are approaching 70 per cent for all persons eligible for the vaccine inclusive of those 12-15 years of age where there is a low uptick.”

The most current Covid-19 health dashboard reveals, 49 active cases detected in Providenciales and Grand Turk only.  There have been five recoveries and one person is in hospital due to the coronavirus.  Of the 56 PCR tests performed by the National Public Health Laboratory, seven positives were lodged, all of them for Provo.

The booster shot program is also going well said Dr. Nadia Astwood, TCI Chief Medical Officer, with well over 800 people getting a third jab of Pfizer in under two weeks.  However, to hit herd immunity of 80 percent however, government informed that it does not plan to activate any vaccine mandates within the country.

“From where I sit as the Minister of Health, we’re already on 75 per cent for the adult population, which is basically the adult working population.  The only place, if there were a need to explore would be whether or not we mandate frontline workers, in those places now there is significant uptake already.  I don’t envision a scenario where we would need to mandate frontline workers at this point because any of them has voluntarily done it.”

There are mandates already at play in the Turks and Caicos Islands, which is a British Overseas territory.

Tourists to Turks and Caicos have to be fully vaccinated with one of six approved vaccines; the guests must also test negative for Covid19 and have full medical insurance coverage in order to be approved at the TCI Assured portal.

Islanders who are fully vaccinated only need prove their status upon returning home from travel.  Others, who are unvaccinated for Covid-19 and are residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands are legally required to quarantine for seven days, test on the fifth day and included in the quarantine must be their entire household.

For the public sector, testing for vaccinated individuals is required but less frequently.  Unvaccinated government workers must be tested twice per week and all guest workers or work permit holders are mandated to be fully vaccinated.  It is a new policy and a part of the Covid-19 response which has now ensured that  the vast majority of the workforce is jabbed for the virus; it took effect since August 31st.

“The thing about that though, is from my understanding of the Labour laws, when it comes to the employment side of things, because we are still in a health crisis, an Employer can say ‘well we can limit your ability to work at my establishment because you’re more at risk in this environment,” shared the minister last week Friday in speaking to how the private sector could respond.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say they could fire, but they could limit the type of hours that can be done based on your health status because we are still in the middle of this pandemic.”

Twenty three people have died from Covid-19 within the Turks and Caicos Islands; just under ten citizens and residents have died abroad.


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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Germany Enter Agreement to Facilitate Direct Airlift



#TheBahamas, December 4, 2021 – The governments of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and of the Federal Republic of Germany entered into a technical bilateral Heads of Agreement aimed at fostering closer ties between both countries.  A central feature is an Air Traffic Agreement to facilitate direct flights from Germany to The Bahamas, which would in turn facilitate movement of goods and services, ease of direct shipment as opposed to going through a third country, among other things.

The HOA was signed during a ceremony at the Ministry of Works & Utilities on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.  The Hon Alfred Sears, who served as Acting Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, and His Excellency Dr. Stefan Keil, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to The Bahamas signed the agreement.  Also present were: Permanent Secretary Reginald Saunders, Ministry of Tourism Investment & Aviation; Luther Smith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works & Utilities; Bacchus Rolle, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works & Utilities; Melanie Roach, Director of Public Works; and Carl Christian Illing, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bahamas.

Mr. Sears said it was a pleasure both countries entered into such an agreement, which he deemed would bring together, two peoples.

The Bahamas and Germany formed diplomatic ties in 1974 and have enjoyed successes in commercial enterprise, tourism and family ties as many Bahamians live in Germany.

“This relationship has been growing and this (agreement) represents the ease of travel, business and social interaction between our two countries,” Mr. Sears said, adding that Bahamians consume and use German products namely vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other items.

In other areas, Mr. Sears noted that The Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world susceptible to effects of global warming. He thanked Germany for its role in the recent COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland, during which that country pledged some twenty million Euros for disaster risk reduction initiatives.

He recalled Hurricane Dorian, which struck Abaco and Grand Bahama from September 1-3, 2019 and, as a result, residents in the path experienced storm surges 20 feet high, many lives were lost, clinics, other public buildings and infrastructure were damaged and/or destroyed, and The Bahamas lost a large portion of its GDP.

“The commitment of Germany resonates with us,” Mr. Sears said, “as we rebuild and build the infrastructure stronger.”

The minister shared the possibility of acquiring more vehicles from Germany, targeting more stopover visitors from there with projection of higher spend and enjoyment of more cultural activities.  Permanent Secretary Saunders supported this, by confirming that direct air travel is being facilitated through the agreement.

Ambassador Keil too acknowledged the close relationship between both countries, and that the technical agreement will further strengthen those ties.


By Lindsay Thompson


Photo Caption: Photos show Minister Sears and Ambassador Keil during the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Works & Utilities, November 30, 2021.

(BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)



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Caribbean News




The fastest internet just got even faster…for the same great price


Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – 1st, December 2021 –  Digicel+ is gifting The Turks and Caicos Islands faster home fibre speeds for Christmas, and beyond. Fulfilling the brand promise of Simply More (more power, more speed and more reliability), customers will now benefit from up to 2x faster download speeds on broadband and bundle plans.

This is all about a better experience for customers, and not about the cost. This free upgrade gives Digicel+ customers an even better home fibre internet experience, for anyone, on any device. And as part and parcel of the digital lifestyle, Digicel+ is the gateway to a Smart Life, which means that state-of-the-art Smart Solutions like Smart Homes and Smart Security are no longer just concepts, but a powerful reality.

Addison Stoddard CEO of Digicel TCI said, “This Christmas, we’re excited to reward customers with a super slick, superfast, super reliable home fibre experience, underpinned by service delivery that is, of course, second to none. Our entry-level plans are the fastest on the island and this puts us head and shoulders above any other internet offering in the country.”

The upgraded packages now start with download speeds of 50Mbps, and go up to 300Mbps for the speed demons and heavy gamers out there. This allows the Turks and Caicos Islands to connect to the global knowledge economy, have amazing entertainment options, and power their personal and professional experiences, thanks to these new superfast internet speeds.

Addison Stoddard continued, “It’s more of what our customers expect; more of what they want and it’s another way that we can be a part of our customers’ digital lives – at home, on the go, anywhere and everywhere. Simply put, Digicel+ is simply more.”

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified the importance of having a steady, powerful and reliable home internet connection, mainly due to many schools going online and parents working remotely. Now, with even faster internet speeds, customers get the best home fibre experience every time. This provides opportunities for MORE working, MORE schooling, MORE gaming, and MORE streaming with Digicel+.

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Bahamas News

Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer



Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas.  It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!


November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?

While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.

Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.

Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:

5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump  – Know what to look for and catch it early

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
  3. Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
  4. Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
  5. Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.

“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”


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