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TCI Covid Cases by the Numbers; Most from Vaxxed Tourtists

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 31, 2021 – Following the uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in the Turks and Caicos Islands, questions arise about whether outbound cases exceed the number of local cases. National Epidemiologist, Dr Shandey Malcolm, confirmed today in the joint presser that of the 184 positive COVID-19 cases recorded in December 116, that is, 63 per cent are visitors.

In agreement with the Health Minister, Hon. Jamell Robinson, she added that these figures could be impacted by the fact that locals are not getting tested.

“The Turks and Caicos has a very strong foundation with over 80 per cent of the adult population being fully vaccinated, all visitors having to be fully vaccinated and requiring testing for entry, plus our health protocols, i.e. face mask-wearing, physical distancing, and personal hygiene. However; the two areas where we can be even stronger is with the Booster Program which is only at 13 per cent of persons having received their 3rd shot and that of community testing,” said Hon. Robinson.

In an exclusive interview with Magnetic Media, he said the rise in cases was not of major concern. He said the positive test results might be from visitors leaving the country. However, the data shared by Dr Malcolm contradicts this prediction.

Nonetheless, the Minister reiterated today that “a key indicator of how things are going is how many people hospitalised, which better speaks to whether or not our Health system is being overwhelmed.”

Hon. Robinson added that the cases will fluctuate, primarily because of holiday operations.

As it relates to cruise ships entering the TCI, the Minister confirmed that from the start of cruise arrivals into the port, only 0.001 per cent of passengers were infected with the COVID-19 virus. He added that those infected have been isolated and have not been allowed to disembark.

Likewise, the decision about whether the ships with people infected will enter the TCI is made based on the risk each ship may carry and whether the island is willing to accept those risks.

“We have to find a balance of what level of risk we want to talk on versus the opportunity for prosperity on that particular day that the ship is in, and I think the protocols which were worked on for months on months between our team and carnival reps, I think they are very good,” Hon. Johnson said.

 

 

 

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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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Health

New Healthy Sail rules to ensure transparency and safety kick in, but not all Cruise Lines are on board

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

January 20, 2022 – The US Centers for Disease Control Cruise Sailing Order expired on Saturday January 15th and it means cruise lines will now be able to choose whether or not they want to participate. This “Healthy Sail” program is a set of guidelines for cruising which the CDC says will provide transparency about COVID management on ships.

Cruise lines which chose to participate in the “healthy sail” voluntary program will be subject to CDC guidelines. Cruise lines which opt out of the program will still have to adhere to masking mandates and report all COVID cases.

However, the ships opting out of the CDC Healthy Sail program, will not be required to make public their testing regimes for crew and passengers.

“There will be a lot of unknowns about what risk mitigation measures are being used on board because they will really be able to set their own protocols for testing of passengers and crew,” said Aimee Treffiletti, CDC representative to USA Today.

Naturally, this raises several questions about whether these ships will be required to make onboard protocols and findings public to ports of call.

Up to Monday, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines had opted into the program. Noticeably absent from the roll call: Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.

 

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