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Not confirmed, but Minister says Omicron “likely” in Turks & Caicos

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By Shanieka Smith and Dana Malcolm

Staff Writers

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The worst surge of the coronavirus in Turks and Caicos Islands is driven, ”most likely” by the Omicron variant of the disease.

Health Minister Jamell Robinson says government had not yet received results from Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA to confirm the presence of the variant despite sending off samples in mid-December but based on the level of hospitalizations and the spike in new cases, officials could safely “theorize that Omicron was in the TCI.”

“For the month of December, we would have had several breakthroughs with the Tourists coming in, which would be indicative more of an omicron-type behaviour to begin with and then you have the significant community spread with the various spikes that our number would have indicated as well,” said the Minister.

Turks and Caicos had 40 active cases, no new deaths or hospitalizations at the start of December; six weeks later, those figures had ballooned to 840 active cases, six in hospital and five new Covid-19 related deaths up to January 13

He said that with breakthroughs, spreads and low hospitalizations, we can safely say it is very likely that Omicron is in the TCI, even without the verifications.

“We have to behave and monitor, react and access the situation as if Omicron is here,” Robinson added.

The Ministry of Health suspiciously maintains this posture of denial despite news reports from Trinidad and Tobago, which confirmed that Turks and Caicos is among the regional countries with the omicron variant.

CARPHA has also repeatedly reported that their lab has processed samples of member states, and there are no pending results.

 

 

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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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