The likelihood of tourists bringing COVID-19 into the Turks and Caicos Islands going forward will be relatively negligible because of the September 1 regulations that government has put into effect.
This analysis was made by Minister of Health Hon. Jamell Robinson, during a news conference on Wednesday. Minister Robinson pointed out that the new measures should stymie the rise in the local infection rate in the short time, and there was no need at this time to put new restrictions in place.
“While I understand the concerns of our many residents who would like to see stricter measures implemented immediately, to drive the current uptick down, I believe the current measures implemented as of September 1st, will do just that over time,” Minister Robinson said.
The health minister pointed out that while his administration would be vigilant at the borders, the main focus would be on how to quell the rise in the local infection rate.
“What we are seeing now is the majority local community spread, and as of September 1st, the likelihood of someone coming (as a) visitor into the country and having COVID is very small, because now we only (accept) vaccinated visitors/tourists into the country. But of course, if it warrants it, we would make the necessary adjustments, as this is a fluid situation, and we will continue to monitor trends,” he said.
The health minister discussed that while the government did not see it necessary to put new rules in place, it is now incumbent on everyone to ensure that the spread is contained, insisting that government was not prepared to micro manage how persons within the community socially behave.
“We are in a partnership here,” he emphasized. “This isn’t about the ministry being the big, bad police (arming) the Compliance Team to ensure you do what you need to do. We will never have the resources to have a ‘police state’, where we are watching you all day, every day,” he underscored.
He said that there have been many in the community, who were being responsible in terms of keeping themselves and their families safe. However, there are some who are taking a cavalier approach.
“Many Turks and Caicos Islanders and residents alike are being responsible and did what they had to do to ensure their safety and the safety of others. We need to ensure that everybody takes that stance…vaccinated and unvaccinated. It is very, very, very important,” he stressed.
In the meantime, Minister Robinson pointed out that records have shown that the numbers of the third wave, which he said the TCI was currently experiencing, have been extremely lower that the first two waves of the virus.
“From the end of August to early September 2020, the active positive case load ranged from 300 to 375 cases…this can be considered the peak of our first wave,” Minister Robinson reasoned.
“From mid-February to March 2021, the positive active cases ranged from 350 to 400 cases. This could be considered the peak of our second wave.
“Presently, we are in the midst of a third wave,” he said, noting that the country was closing in on 100 cases, and comparatively speaking, the latest build-up has been slow, which he said was due to the vaccination rate of over 50 percent of the adult population.
“The biggest difference between now and then, its because we have a 70.3 percent vaccination rate of our adult population,” he said.