Updated: Aug 27, 2021
Minister of Health Hon. Jamell Robinson has revealed that the group between the ages of 16 to 25 is the demographic most at risk of contracting the dreaded COVID-19 disease based on their behavior and evidenced in the infection rate.
The minister made the revelation while addressing a marathon news conference Wednesday evening in Providenciales. According to Minister Robinson, just 1,741 of persons within that age range have been fully vaccinated, which he said represents a 34.8 percent vaccinated range of that population.
“However, they display the riskiest behavior profile,” the minister emphasized.
He said government is fighting COVID-19 on two fronts…the imported cases and the community transmission. He pointed out that as against the last news conference two weeks ago, where visitors outpaced locals in COVID infections, the case is now 50/50.
“On the imported cases front, we have implemented a vaccinated visitor only policy and for the unvaccinated returning residents, in addition to the three-day pre-testing, they have a seven-day quarantine requirement on return to the islands,” Robinson said.
On the community transmission front, of the 188 cases from the end of July to the end of last week, 94 of our visitors, one unknown and 93 of our residents (have contracted COVID-19), This was a flip from our last press conference, where the numbers showed 68 percent of the new positive cases were visitors. This means that of today, we are seeing just as much local resident positive cases as those that were being imported,” he said.
Minister Robinson said also that his ministry has begun meeting with churches, since it has been revealed that church gatherings were in on the spreading of the diseases too.
“There has also been some indication of church clusters,” he said. “So, we are meeting with church leaders to see how we can assist with their fight against the COVID-19 spread.
“On Monday, 23rd of August, we held one such meeting in Grand Turk, with the Grand Turk Pastors Fraternal, which was very productive. And I am grateful for them having hosted me and the health team.”
The minister also announced that in the not too distant future, the sub ministry of Religious Affairs will host a prayer and fasting day, to try and invoke divine intervention to battle the disease.
“I am also pleased to say that the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which falls under the Ministry of Tourism, is planning a National Day of Prayer fasting. So, I am sure they would be reaching out to our spiritual leaders in the near future,” he said.
The minister also warned that local hospitals do not have Intensive Care Units capacity, and as such, in the event someone needs that level of service, would have to be flown out of the country. But the problem faced currently is that most places that TCI fly its patients to have decided to cut back on international receipts because they are bursting at the seams with COVID-19 in their countries.
“The TCI Hospital does not have an ICU capacity, it only has HCU, which is high dependency unit capacity. If your conditions turn to the worst, particularly with COVID-19, we have to fly you out.
“The reality is, there are only certain amount of facilities that are accepting our patients. We were also informed that the ICU were full at the time of asking, in particular Broward Health, and were prioritizing local patients over international private patients.
“Consequently, it is expected that as long as Florida is expecting low ICU availability, due to the surge in COVID cases, access to service will be impacted.
“The two facilities in the Dominican Republic have just come back online to receiving our patients. Because in the last week or so, we had access to only one facility. There is one facility in Columbia that’s taking our patients. Jamaica isn’t available presently. The Bahamas isn’t available presently,” he said.
The minister said while this is a fluid situation, one should not take the risk of exposing themselves to COVID-19.
“Do not take that risk,” the minister urged.
The minister also informed that Columbia and the Dominican Republic have implemented a policy that the dead bodies of victims from COVID-19 should be cremated within 24 hours of death.
“While I am not trying to scare you…I am just giving you the facts and information as they are,” he said.
Minister Robinson also announce the launch of an electronic vaccine certificate, which he said should come on stream as of September 1.
“We are also launching the vaccine e-certificate initiative. This will take effect on the 1st of September 2021. Persons are encouraged to liaise with Primary Healthcare in relation to any concern regarding their e-certificate information by way of a telephone call via the hotline,” the minister stated.
In the meantime, the minister revealed that he would begin to host bi-weekly news conferences pertaining to the progress made on COVID-19.