By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos does not seem primed to do away with its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for entry to the islands just yet, Magnetic Media learned from Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and Human Services.
Robinson maintained that “As usual all remaining regulations are continuously under review. Current regulations expire December 31st.”
Despite them being under constant review, the Minister gave no indication that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government would accelerate any change to the rule.
The question though, is why? The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has continuously stated that it is following the science and the UKs lead when it comes to the country’s Covid-19 response. The UK dropped its vaccine mandate for entry back in March as the country was coming off of the Omicron wave and dozens of other countries have done so since.
In terms of the science, not only does vaccination not stop the virus from spreading to vulnerable islanders, the earliest vaccines and boosters have notoriously little efficacy against the circulating variants.
In addition, there is little evidence to suggest that allowing unvaccinated individuals within borders has a negative effect on that country’s Covid case count.
Not only are the islands missing out on a major chunk of their source markets who are unvaccinated, homeowners who are unvaccinated have not been able to return to or see their property investments since the mandate was adopted in September 2021.
Deputy Premier E Jay Sanders had explained that, “thanks to the country’s over performing tourism sector when the decision is made to pull back that requirement it will be done not out of pressure but with the TCI people in mind.”
It’s unclear what the reasoning behind keeping the mandate is when it now has been proven to provide so little protection.
Additionally, it was explained that multiple attempts by the Ministry of Health to secure avenues for unvaccinated homeowners in the Turks and Caicos to visit their properties have been rebuffed at the Cabinet level.
Robinson was addressing the continued COVID-19 vaccine requirement for travel to the TCI which blocks unvaccinated tourists and homeowners from entering the island.
“On several occasions, I have presented possible pathways for homeowners to be able to visit their properties outside of a full repeal of the vaccine entry mandate and each time there was not full support for it moving forward in Cabinet,” he said.
Magnetic Media has spoken to irate and broken-hearted homeowners who have not been able to visit their properties in a year despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and other fees to have a home on the islands.
The Health Ministry however says his team is now preparing a cabinet paper to weigh the pros and cons of continuing with the vaccine mandate. Robinson said that paper has not made the agenda as yet, taking a back seat to more pressing issues including the passing of Hurricane Fiona.
The paper should reach cabinet “soon” but this is not a guarantee that the measure will be dropped. Robinson also defended the TCIG’s current policy.
“Based on the numbers I have received from the (tourism) industry to date, being one of the few only remaining destinations with a vaccine mandate doesn’t seem to be hurting our projected occupancy rates for the months of December, January, and February across all segments of the Industry.”
The issue of why the vaccine mandate persists are heightened due to major announcements in recent days including, Joe Biden, US president declaring that the Coronavirus Pandemic “is over”; Canada moving to end its vaccine entry requirement on September 30 and The Bahamas calling off mandatory testing as of September 22 and rescinding the mask rule (for most public places) on October 1.
The mandatory vaccine measure came into effect in September 2021 prior to the widespread emergence of Omicron and lowered vaccine efficacy. It is also a mandatory requirement for guest workers in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Worst COVID case count for China, Supply Chain interrupted and protests erupt over ZERO COVID strategy
By Dana Malcolm
#China, November 25, 2022 – Mainland China is experiencing record levels of Covid-19 even as the government struggles to enforce some of the strictest Covid-19 protocols in the world. Upwards of 31 thousand cases were recorded on Wednesday, the highest ever according to the National Health Commission of the PRC. Mainland China does not include Hong Kong or Taiwan.
An inspection of China’s COVID infections from March 2021 straight to February 2022 would look like an almost completely flat line. There were no major recorded spikes over the 12 month period and case counts hovered largely under 2000 cases per day. It took the swift spreading omicron to break that streak sending cases as high as 29 thousand in April. Now this winter outbreak shot past those numbers.
With less than 6,000 deaths the country has been one of the most successful in the world at keeping its citizens alive but many disagree with the strict and often long lasting lockdowns.
Several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have tightened COVID restrictions as cases surge.
Violent protests erupted last week in Guangzhou after the city was locked down over less than two thousand Covid-19 cases. This week protests at an Iphone factory in Zhengzhou erupted once more this time over a pay dispute.
So far officials have not bowed to pressure to lighten the protocols and the economy is suffering, stocks fell steeply on Wednesday.
Supply chain issues have started to rear their heads once more as Apple is already warning that there will be delays in deliveries of their newest Iphone thanks to the Zhengzhou dispute.
JAMAICA: New Feature Added to Tourism Health and Wellness Conference
#Kingston, November 23, 2022 – A trade show will be the added feature at this year’s staging of the Tourism Health and Wellness Conference.
The new segment will showcase health and wellness products and services offered by local businesses.
The conference, being organised by the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN), a department of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), takes place on November 24 and 25 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, beginning at 9:00 a.m. each day.
It aims to strengthen connections between the health and wellness industry and other sectors, particularly manufacturing and agriculture. This, while promoting and presenting Jamaica’s distinctive health and wellness tourism products.
Chairman, Health and Wellness Linkages Network, Kyle Mais, told JIS News that the tradeshow kicks off at 11:00 a.m. on the conference’s first day and will remain open for the event’s duration.
“It’s the first stand-alone tradeshow for [the] Health and Wellness [Linkages Network]. We always take part, and there is a section, normally, in the Christmas in July event that we put on, via the TLN. This is an extension of that, but focusing on health and wellness products,” he said.
The trade show floor will feature various businesses, with a focus on skincare products, wellness excursions and tours, nutrition and wellness products, technology, and spas.
Meanwhile, the conference will facilitate presentations and panel discussions covering several thematic areas.
These include global wellness trends and insights, wellness travel experiences; nutrition; medical tourism, the health and wellness tourism value chain, wellness in the community, spas, wellness music, and investing in wellness.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett and Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, head the list of slated speakers.
They will be joined by Head, Department of Government, University of the West Indies Mona Campus, Professor Lloyd Waller; recording artiste, Jeffrey “Agent Sasco” Campbell; Caribbean Maritime University President, Professor Andrew Spencer, and Mr. Mais
Persons wishing to attend the conference, which will be held in a hybrid format, are invited to register online for free at www.wellnessinja.com.
Those who want to watch online, may visit @tefjamaica on Facebook and YouTube.
Contact: Shanna K. Salmon
Dominican Republic gives statement rebuffing report saying hundreds of children were deported without parents
By Deandrea Hamilton
#DominicanRepublic, November 23, 2022 – A UNICEF report to CNN is being rebuffed by the government of the Dominican Republic, after it exposed that hundreds of children were expelled from the country, mainly to Haiti without due consideration and without parents.
It was labelled in the report as a sweeping government push to remove undocumented migrants from the DR, where the United Nations Children’s Agency informed they had some 1,800 unaccompanied children in their care.
The children were delivered, says the November 20 report by Dominican immigration authorities; it’s been happening since the start of the year.
But the General Directorate of Migration of the Dominican Republic affirmed in a government statement on November 22 that, of the more than 150,000 foreigners who have been redirected to their country since 2020, there are no cases of minors who have been separated from their parents.
“At all times and in compliance with the laws of the Dominican Republic and international treaties, all deportations are carried out in total and absolute respect for the dignity of people and their human rights,” said Venancio Alcántara, general director of Migration, emphasizing that “there are specific procedures when there are minors involved in the process. At all times the minors are with their parents and, when they have not been located, the minors are referred directly to the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) which is in charge of their care”.
Government in the DR said the clarification from the director general of migration was given after the international news channel CNN stated that “the Dominican Republic this year expelled hundreds of children to Haiti without their families.”
The UNICEF maintains that many of the children arrive without identification and are shipped into Haiti with adults; the child protection arm of the UN questioning how Dominican authorities were able to ascertain the nationality of the children given they lacked the documents.
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