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The Omicron Effect:  TCI Ready for Travel Changes

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – A one-day old coronavirus test result, which has to be negative for Covid-19 is among the newest requirements for entry to the US for its citizens, residents and visitors whether vaccinated or not.  This is a dramatic departure from the three-day-old test which was previously accepted for most US bound travellers and it is a measure activated by Joe Biden, US president.  Biden, like other world leaders has raised the bar for entry to his country in an effort to fend off infiltration of the mysterious omicron variant.  At this point, 15 States have reported detection of the variant.

With the United States as the main source market for tourism, the question for these islands easily turned to capability and capacity.

According to Stacy Cox, Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, these islands are.

“TCHTA and its Members are in a good position for the changes, with 21 testing stations on island and more than 60 per cent of those testing stations in our major resorts, we find that we and the island are in unique position to handle the capacity.”

In January, the Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Health approved testing centers around the country.  The sanctioning of testing centres outside of the National Public Health Laboratory was in response to travel requirements announced in January 2021 by the US, UK and Canada.  A surge in deaths and Covid-19 cases triggered the need for at least an antigen test result before entry or re-entry to these three major source countries.

“Thanks to the Ministry of Health for the authorization to have these testing stations in the resorts prior to this announcement; without them, we would certainly be concerned,” said Mrs. Cox on Sunday.

The 24-hour negative Covid-19 test result pre-travel took effect on December 6 for all US bound travellers.

President of the TCI Medical Association, Dr. Darren Hall as president of the TCI Medical Association informed that health care facilities in Turks and Caicos have been turning around antigen tests in less than an hour, most he said “within 30 minutes”.

Dr. Hall adds, that Turks and Caicos is well stocked with supplies on island through the holiday season.

Minister of Health Jamell Robinson expressed confidence in the testing sites; explaining “antigen testing is not a time consuming endeavor, so outside of the initial surge the testing should regularize very quickly.”

American Airlines, over the weekend, informed its passengers that the rule takes effect on December 6, but their airline will enforce the new measure of a one-day-old test result by this coming Wednesday, which is December 8.

 

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Health

Over 5000 COVID cases on Cruises, CDC investigations launched

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#January 15, 2022 – Cruises have continued across the Americas despite the US Centers for Disease Control dire warning that even vaccinated individuals should be wary of them. Now the CDC informs that Coronavirus cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters.

According to the CDC, all 92 ships with passengers have met the threshold for investigation by the public health agency. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated.

Surges in Covid-19 on land have led to spikes on the high seas, revealed that update on Tuesday. Cases have rocketed from 162 in early December to 5,013 up to December 29th.

The CDC warned travellers including those who are vaccinated to avoid cruising in December, following the announcement videos surfaced of jam-packed cruise ships with unmasked passengers ringing in the New Year.

Meanwhile, Grand Turk is still welcoming cruise ships.  Eleven cruise ships are scheduled to dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center throughout January, according to the port schedule.

Jamell Robinson, TCI Minister of Health has confirmed that ships have been allowed to dock in Grand Turk with positive COVID cases on board.

He said. “Now in each ship there are stations or places for isolation on board…Just because a vessel has people with Covid-19 on it doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t allow them to disembark.”

The minister explained the number of positive cases recorded on cruise ships that had arrived in Grand Turk was .001 per cent of all guests and they were not allowed to disembark.

So far, Turks and Caicos has turned away at least one cruise liner due to fears of COVID exposure in the capital, which has gone from a handful of active cases to now 111, as of January 14.

The US Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases on cruise ships have increased to 30 times what they were in mid-December.

 

 

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New York, US Epicenter for Omicron “turning the corner”

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#USA, January 15, 2022 – Today, New York is seeing a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, as officials revealed, “we are turning the corner” on Friday in updating on the state of affairs in the city, labelled the epicenter of omicron for the United States.

Before, data from the New York State Department of Health showed that the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents in the State, rose from 29.8 in the first week of December to 222.3 last week.  Also, the rate of new cases in unvaccinated adults rose from 239.6 to 1,583.1 per 100,000.

New York is a key source market for the Turks and Caicos and much of the Caribbean, which is heavily reliant upon winter travellers.  The data showed, too, that vaccine effectiveness against severe infection remained high.

Only 4.59 fully vaccinated adults out of 100,000 were hospitalised with COVID-19 in the week of December 27.  However, that number increased, and the hospitalisation rate for the unvaccinated is nearly 13 times higher.

New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20% in recent days, but media reports indicate the death toll in the State hit a startling high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout.

 

 

 

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Lockdown time party plaguing UK Prime Minister; requests for resignation

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#UnitedKingdom, January 15, 2022 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being urged to resign after finally admitting that he did indeed attend a garden party on Downing Street while citizens of the United Kingdom were in lockdown.  It is an admission that he broke his own lockdown rules.

Johnson said he thought it was a ‘work event’ and has apologized for his involvement. He acknowledged that there were citizens who felt rage towards him at his carelessness.

Rage, however strong may still be an understatement, at least for his political opponents.

Opposition Labour Party leader Kier Starmer dismissed Johnson’s excuse that he did not realise the event was a party saying “[It is] so ridiculous that it is actually offensive to the British public.”

This latest issue comes as a slew of different scandals rock the Conservative party amid concerns about Boris Johnson’s ability to lead the UK.

Weeks ago, after another party in the lockdown scandal surfaced, Johnson suffered a massive defeat at the hands of Liberal Democrat Helen Morgan in a constituency that the party had never lost before.

Morgan said, “The country is crying out for a leader, Boris Johnson has proved that he is no leader.”

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