COVID Vaccine mandate expires Dec 31, TCIG stalled on ending it sooner
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.
Women’s Health Connectivity and health a study for TCI’S benefit
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – As the country moves toward new fiber optic connectivity, bridging the digital divide could be a game changer for healthcare and other family-friendly services in the TCI.
The power of universal digital connectivity across countries was one of the recurring themes when the United Nations in partnership with the Network of Afro Caribbean Women and the Diaspora recently explored how technology, innovation and education are being used to address women’s health issues.
The session aimed to highlight success stories and explore how those processes can be replicated to help women and girls globally including in The Turks and Caicos.
The UN explained that despite holding a 70 percent majority in healthcare jobs, women are poorly represented in leadership roles and subject to systemic gender inequalities that can make receiving healthcare challenging.
As delegates from Chile and Rwanda, who were also partners in the session, shared the upgrades to their countries’ systems that had significantly improved the level of care available to their women, digital connectivity was a deciding factor.
In Rwanda the health ministries have begun to use drones to deliver medicine, SMS messages to alert about health threats and a completely digitized health care that eliminates paper documents for pregnant women and makes records accessible to any doctor, immediately.
Rwandan delegate, Rose Rwabuhihi shared tips that countries should keep in mind when trying to implement new processes to benefit women and the wider community.
- Partnership and sustainability are key factors to successful programs. She urged governments not to give up on projects or allow their partners to give up on them halfway.
- Education campaigns to introduce residents to the technology: “We need to build skills and deepen the knowledge so they can use the innovations that have been put in place especially in rural areas.
Poor connectivity and technological issues have plagued the TCI for years especially in the islands outside of Providenciales. Government has substantially acknowledged this disparity in communications services and is investing in a new undersea cable to augment services in the Turks and Caicos.
The UNs perspectives can now ignite a fire for even more family friendly, digital services.
In fact,Senator Yasna Provoste Campillay, the Chilean Delegate explained how connectivity and videoconferencing had been used to reach the county’s women in the most rural of areas. Chile is a long country, its landmass spread lengthwise creating unique communication challenges. While healthcare in Chile is separated by length the Turks and Caicos islands are disconnected by the ocean and solutions that prove useful for the South American country could well be worth implementing locally.
A short look at Celery
March 17, 2023 – Celery is a great food for people trying to lose weight or just put healthy meals on the table. It’s mostly made up of water and with only ten calories per stalk, you can add it into juices, salads, stir frys and more, without worrying about large amounts of sugar.
There are other health benefits as well. Healthline says it is rich in antioxidants, reduces inflammation, supports digestion and it can help with heartburn from spicy foods!
TCI farmers have hopped onto the celery train and the nutritious vegetable will be available to purchase, in a debut for celery, at the Farmers Market this Saturday March 18th from 8:30 am to 1pm.
WHO Ranks Air Quality, Grenada ranks high others not measured
By Dana Malcolm
March 17, 2023 – A new air quality report from IQAir claims only six countries met the World Health Organization’s Guidelines on Air quality in 2022, Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland and New Zealand but the Northern Caribbean was almost totally excluded from the list.
There were no results for The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, Haiti or Cayman. The blame for that though may lie with the countries themselves. IQAir said there were major gaps in government-operated regulatory instrumentation in many parts of the world. The organization revealed that it was citizens who were picking up the slack.
“Low-cost air quality monitors sponsored and hosted by citizen scientists, researchers, community advocates, and local organizations, have proven to be a valuable tool to reduce the massive inequalities in air monitoring networks across the world, until sustainable regulatory air quality monitoring networks can be established,” it said.
It may be time for more Northern Caribbean Governments to look into outfitting their countries with air monitoring devices for the health of their residents.
The Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Barbados, the US Virgin Islands etc, that did make the list, ranked very low in the pollution index with air quality just outside the WHO standards and much better than most major cities, except Grenada, which ranked in the bottom six which for this list means best in class.
The WHO measures air quality based on how much fine particulate matter and other basic pollutants are in the air.
Aidan Farrow, Air Quality Scientist at Greenpeace International said, “Too many people around the world don’t know that they are breathing polluted air. Air pollution monitors provide hard data that can inspire communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is patchy or unequal, vulnerable communities can be left with no data to act on.”
The report is now encouraging citizens to take air pollution into their own hands and not wait for their Governments to attack the issue.
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