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Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism prepare for COVID-19

Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism prepare for COVID-19
Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism prepare for COVID-19
Written by editor

The Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Board continue to work along with the Ministry of Health as we prepare for the possibility of coronavirus (COVID-19) reaching the Turks and Caicos Islands. As of 10th March 2020, the Ministry of Health report zero suspected and zero confirm cases in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Board is working closely with its partners from the Ministry of Health, the lead agency for the prevention of this virus. On behalf of all our partners we hereby advise visitors and travel industry partners of the recent changes in regulations which may affect travel to the destination. The safety of our visitors is of utmost importance and we advise all visitors to take note of the Turks and Caicos Islands Public and Environmental Health (Control Measures) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 which came into effect on March 10, 2020:

The general and travelling public is hereby being asked to take note of the following provisions of the Turks and Caicos Islands Public and Environmental Health (Control Measures) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 which came into effect on March 10, 2020:

  1. Refusal of entry of direct flight to the Islands originating from infected country

No flight originating from an infected country shall be permitted to land in the Islands.

Infected country means China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Singapore, Macau, Japan and any other country which the Governor declares from time to time, by notice published in the Gazette, as a country where there is known or thought to be sustained human-to-human transmission of Covid-19, or from which the CDC reports there is a high risk of importation of infection or contamination (with Covid-19) via travel from that country to the Islands;

2. Refusal of entry of cruise ship carrying passenger from infected country 

No cruise ship shall be permitted to enter the Islands, where that cruise ship is carrying a passenger who has travelled to, from or through an infected country within a period of twenty-one days or less immediately preceding the intended arrival in the Islands.

3. Refusal of entry to the Islands by visitors after visit to an infected country

No visitor shall be permitted to enter the Islands, whether by ship or aircraft, where that person has travelled to, from or through an infected country within a period of twenty-one days or less immediately preceding the visitor’s arrival in the Islands.

4. Persons in the Islands who have travelled to, from or through infected country may be quarantined

(I) A Turks and Caicos Islander or resident of the Islands who arrives in the Islands after travel to, from or through an infected country shall be—

(a) subjected to screening and passenger tracing at port of entry;

(b) subjected to clinical examination at port of entry; and

(c) quarantined for a period of fourteen days, as deemed necessary.

(II) A person referred to in sub regulation (1) who is deemed at high risk of having the virus by a health officer, based on travel or contact information but is asymptomatic, shall, for the purposed of surveillance by the Chief Medical officer, be placed under quarantine in a specified place for up to fourteen days and monitored for symptoms and signs of viral illness daily by a health officer.

(III) An immigration officer shall alert the health authorities of any Turks and Caicos Islander or resident of the Islands arriving in the Islands –

(a) who has travelled to, from or through an infected country within the within the last twenty-one days;

(b) with symptoms suggestive of the virus; or

(c) if he suspects that a person has been exposed to the virus.

(IV) A person suspected of having been exposed to or having symptoms of the virus shall be removed to an isolation room for assessment and evaluation by health officials.

(V) A person who is symptomatic or a person who becomes symptomatic under home-based quarantine shall be placed under quarantine in a designated facility with precaution taken to protect uninfected persons from exposure to the virus.

(VI) Where –

(a) any person in the Islands who, at the date of the commencement of these Regulations had travelled to, from or through an infected country within a period of twenty one days or less immediately preceding the person’s arrival in the Islands; and

(b) that person shows respiratory symptoms or symptoms of the virus, the person

(c) shall be managed under the direction of the Chief Medical Officer and shall be quarantined at a quarantine facility specified by the Chief Medical Officer for a period of up to fourteen days, or until the Chief Medical Officer determines that the person is fully recovered, whichever is later.

  1. Health practitioners, health officers and other persons may be quarantined 

A health practitioner, health officer or any other person who may have had direct contact with a person suspected of having the virus or with bodily fluids of such a person shall, on assessment, be subject to quarantine for fourteen days, or until the Chief Medical Officer determines that the person is fully recovered, whichever is later.

2. Court’s power to order quarantine

If on the application of a health officer the court is satisfied that a person who is placed under quarantine has failed to comply with such direction, the court may order him to be placed under quarantine for a period specified in the order and a health officer and any police officer may do all things necessary for giving effect to the order.

3. Duty to provide information

The Chief Medical Officer may, request any person to provide to the Chief Medical Officer with such information the Chief Medical Officer considers necessary to assess what precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of the virus in the Islands.

4. Offence 

A person who does not provide any information as required by sub regulation 9, or who leaves a specified place or a designated facility when he is placed under quarantine there, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to a term of imprisonment.

Statement on Coronavirus from Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Tourism

Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands (10 March 2020) – The Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Tourism, Tourist Board and relevant industry partners are working collaboratively with the Ministry of Health, the lead agency tasked with monitoring the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). To date, the Turks and Caicos Islands has no suspected or confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus.

Turks and Caicos Islands Minister of Tourism Hon. Ralph Higgs stated that “we have confidence in the actions and protocols that are in place by the Ministry of Health for the management of this disease. We endorse the Ministry of Health’s updates and releases aimed at safeguarding residents and visitors alike.  To date, the Turks and Caicos Islands will continue to review and monitor the risk, as the Ministry of Health implements aggressive protocols, as outlined by regional and international health agencies.”

Travel restrictions issued in the press release of March 2nd from the Ministry responsible for Health remain in place on the following:

  • All returning residents who have visited infected countries with high transmission such as China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan or Italy in the last 14-20 days will have landing privileges but will be subject to health assessment and quarantine.
  • Persons who have visited China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan or Italy in the last 14-20 days and who do not have permanent residency or marriage exemption in Turks and Caicos Islands will not be granted landing privileges at any of the country’s ports of entry (sea/air).

As of Tuesday, 10 March, the Cabinet of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government released updated regulations to control the entry of persons to the Turks and Caicos Islands from various countries experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19; these restrictions are similar to that of regional and neighbouring territories to strengthen our approach and assist in safeguarding visitors and residents alike.  These restrictions are in accordance with the Turks and Caicos Islands Public and Environmental Health (Control Measures) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 which came into effect on March 10, 2020.  Further information regarding the requirements may be retrieved by visiting Cabinet approves Control Measures.

The Turks and Caicos Islands tourism industry is under heightened surveillance to ensure the safety of visitors to the destination and our residents alike.  A nation-wide education campaign is underway to remind residents and visitors of basic hygiene practices that can be used to prevent the spread of the virus including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick and do not travel.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Staying home when you are sick is recommended every flu season, but especially important now.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is following the protocol outlined in the International Health Regulation (IHR) and reporting to Public Health England/PAHO as appropriate. Similarly, all the necessary protocols are in place for the Cruise Ship Industry and the residents and visitors of Grand Turk.

The Ministry of Health is currently operating emergency health hotlines from 6am to 11pm (EST) to provide residents and visitors with urgent information about the Coronavirus. The hotline may be reached by calling 649-333-0911 or 649-232-9444. Additional information is also available by visiting https://www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus

The Ministry of Tourism will also liaise with partners to determine the exact extent of the impact of this disease on the industry, and put in place the appropriate measures regarding public relations and marketing strategies that are or will become necessary to safeguard this vital industry. We urge everyone to follow the necessary guidelines and ‘keep in the know’ to ensure your health and safety.