PREMIER’S REMARKS: National Update on TCI’s COVID-19 Response
Good Evening Turks and Caicos
Great things are achieved when there is unity and when persons work toward one common goal. In this instance, residents across the TCI have been working together as one unit to keep ourselves safe and we are grateful for the spirit of cooperation. We appreciate that this is not easy for moving societies to shelter in place and to on the drop of a dime as it were, change how we live and interact but we have seen and enjoyed high compliance rates and this is commendable. I am a firm believer that only good can come from following expert health advice and I encourage us all to continue to do just that.
TCI took the decision several weeks ago to declare a State of Emergency and to introduce measures to mitigate against and contain the spread of Co Vid 19; and these steps were taken ahead of any confirmed cases. Additional measures followed to further ensure the safety of our people by restricting movements and within the past few weeks under Curfew conditions beginning March 26th. This was all in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus and to contain same. Because of these early measures, TCI is in a good place and must not take any steps to lose these early and important gains.
The Ministry of Health over this period has worked on modeling with the Public Health England team using recognized tools. Based on these models and looking at our population size and demographics including numbers of persons in each age group. The models showed projections for the TCI which estimated the following:
- Based on estimates of 80% of the population being susceptible, this would mean that 34, 363 persons could be expected to be infected. A significant number of these persons would be asymptomatic.
- The most significant morbidity and mortality (deaths) will be in older age groups, especially people over 75 years of age
- The estimated case fatality would be 344 persons
- 760 severe cases requiring hospitalization
- over 320 critical cases requiring intensive care
- 236 deaths
- Duration of the outbreak predicted to be 8-9 weeks with 50% of cases expected to be identified in the first three weeks.
This model reflects what could happen without the aggressive interventions which have been implemented in the TCI, namely, shelter in place, closure of the borders, education on hygiene and protective measures and enforcement of social distancing. These measures are working to help us avoid these high figures and reduce the burden on our health care system. We are also using these measures to help protect our most vulnerable groups, those being the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Evidence is clear that these individuals are at the greatest risk for poor outcomes including death.
Additional modeling is being done and we will be shared with you as time progresses to help everyone understand the reasoning behind the strategies being implemented here in the TCI.
Additionally, today’s Dashboard shows 9 positive cases and 13 suspected cases. We are informed by Team Health that in these results there are persons that are connected to each but there are also those who tested positive and who have no connection to other positive cases and no recent travel history. What we are told this means is that, these individuals have contracted the virus in country and additional measures must be taken to reduce the spread.
Today members of Cabinet met in a Special Meeting to discuss TCI’s COVID-19 Response and to review the measures currently in place against the modeling completed by Ministry of Health. The Minister of Health together with members of his Ministry’s Team presented a full analysis of TCI’s state of affairs and offered advice as we approach the end of the 21 day Curfew.
Today we determined that it is in the best interest of all to have the Curfew extended further. A decision has then been taken to extend March 26th Curfew first imposed to May 4th, 2020.
Again, the Curfew will be extended until May 4th, 2020.
The following decisions were also taken:
Like we did over the Easter weekend, there will be a complete closure of businesses each Wednesday and Sunday each week beginning Sunday 18th April
Airports will remain closed to Regional and International Flights until May 4th
Based on CDC guidelines and following consultation with the cruise industry, the Cruise Port will remain closed until June 30th, 2020. This will remain under review and a decision will only be taken on its reopening after further consideration of CDC advice and after consultation with the Cruise Sector.
The provision to protect vulnerables under TCIG’s full or partial responsibility will remain in place until May 4th, 2020
Schools will remain closed until May 4th.
It is so important that we continue to practice social distancing, that we stay at home and that we follow good hygiene tips. We will get through this together and we will be better for it once we follow health’s advice which we have already begun to realise and benefit from. We ask that you too continue to take this approach. Together we are strongest and we must remain our brother’s keeper. We assure you that health remains our top priority and will continue to drive all decisions. But likewise we are not close minded to the impact that this will have on our local economy. Over the next few days and weeks, you will be advised on important next steps and we ask only that you pay attention to official TCI Sites and official Notices.
May God Bless Us All and May God Bless These Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands.