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Health

COVID surge sends 400 Government Staff home says Deputy Governor

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Twenty per cent of Government workers are home and it has caused a significant interruption in public services and revived the business continuity contingency for the sector said Her Excellency, Any Williams, the deputy governor and head of the Public Service for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.

Deputy Governor, Anya Williams, said the new Covid-19 surge has significantly affected the public sector; at least 400 government workers are in isolation and quarantine. Last week, Williams confirmed a 10 per cent staff loss, but in a press conference with TCI media houses on Tuesday, she said that has now peaked and is 20 per cent of the 2,000 strong public sector workforce.

“Those numbers spread from across the police service to immigration to impacts on land registering, impacts on the DCR, and a number of other offices across government registration and citizenship,” said the Deputy Governor.

The advice has been for the public to return to using online services as government offices have had to revert to a hybrid system and staff bubbles.

“What we are doing now is that we are going back to having a hybrid of our previous shift systems where some persons, if you have a private office or if space permits in your office, you will work from the office versus if you are in a shared space and so on, we are asking some persons to alternate between the days that they work or working from home if they can,” she said.

Among the offices affected by the spike in cases to over 800 active cases at the peak this past week, were the Department of Road Safety, the Royal TCI Police, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services, the TCI Sports Commission, the District Commissioner’s office in South Caicos, TCI National Trust parks across North and Middle Caicos, the Customer Service Department, Registrar General’s Office, and Citizenship and Naturalization.

 

 

 

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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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