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MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #40

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12am on 19th April, 2020:

THE TURKS & CAICOS CONTINUES TO RECORD ONE COVID-19 DEATH.

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CONFIRMED POSITIVE CASES REMAINS AT ELEVEN (11). Two confirmed positive cases are currently under hospital care.

HOWEVER, A PATIENT FROM THE TCI HAS BEEN CONFIRMED POSITIVE OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY AND EFFORTS ARE CURRENTLY UNDERWAY TO DETERMINE WHICH COUNTRY WILL OFFICIALLY REPORT THE CASE, AS TO AVOID DOUBLE COUNTING.

THE NUMBER OF SUSPECTED CASES OF COVID-19 HAS RISEN TO THREE (3). THE SUSPECTED CASES ARE TCI RESIDENTS EXPERIENCING RELEVANT SYMPTOMS; TWO WITH, AND ONE WITHOUT, A HISTORY OF CONTACT WITH CONFIRMED CASES.

The individuals met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

QUARANTINE/OBSERVATION NUMBERS HAVE INCREASED TO 102. This includes: The active confirmed cases (patients in the TCI that are currently infected) (9), contacts of confirmed cases (34), indirect contacts of confirmed cases (31), suspected cases (3), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (8), symptomatic persons not meeting the case definition and their contacts (17). Persons under observation/quarantine are either not displaying symptoms or have not meet the case definition for COVID-19.

The increase in quarantine/observation numbers is primarily as a result of contact tracing efforts, where contacts and indirect contacts of confirmed cases have increased; along with the additional suspected case and their contacts, and symptomatic persons not meeting the case definition and their contacts.

On 1st April, 2020 the case definition for COVID-19 was amended for TCI; a travel history is no longer needed to fit the criteria. Given the closure of the TCI borders it is likely that new case would be as a result of local transmission.

NO NEW TEST RESULTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED. To date, the TCI has received a total of eighty-three (83) test results, with seventy-two (72) confirmed to be negative and eleven (11) positive confirmations. Persons confirmed not to have COVID-19, and their contacts, were moved from quarantined status and asked to continue following proper guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Those cases confirmed positive are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY REMINDED THAT LOCKDOWN MEASURES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AND YOU ARE TO STAY AT HOME – ONLY LEAVING FOR ESSENTIAL TRAVEL UNDER THE SPECIFIED GUIDENCE.

The Ministry of Health ALSO takes this opportunity to remind the public of offenses committed under section 18 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 in regard to false Statements/information. You do not have to be the originator of the statement/information in order to be charged under the law.

Please note the following definitions:

  • A suspected person is someone who meets the case definition as outlined by WHO and CARPHA - and is experiencing symptoms.
  • A person in quarantine is an individual on island who has come from infected country(ies) or may have come in proximity to suspected or confirmed cases - and have not exhibited symptoms.

Let's continue to reduce the risk by: 1. Washing our hands for 20secs or more 2. Practicing social distancing 3. Prepare your home, office and other surroundings by following the advice of the Ministry of Health and other credible health agencies.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health website, www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call our hotline numbers, (649) 232-9444 and (649) 333-0911, if you or someone you know has symptoms or signs of COVID-19.

 

Back to School Message by Hon. Karen Malcolm, Minister of Education

My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders and residents, I greet you and speak blessings and protection over you all and over these beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands. God is in control, do not get discouraged, this too shall pass.

As we commence two additional weeks of curfew, I encourage all of us to adhere to the advice given by the Ministry of Health. We are in this together, remember to practice social distancing, wash your hands often with soap and water, and wear a mask especially when shopping, banking or doing other essential tasks. Let’s continue to stay at home to flatten the curve.

School was scheduled to reopen this Monday, April 20th but due to the extension of the curfew this is not possible. We continue to be guided by the advice of our officials in the Ministry of Health. As we begin two additional weeks outside of the classroom setting, we will continue to make use of online learning platforms such as Microsoft OneNote Classroom, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to facilitate face to face instructional delivery and learning opportunities for students.

To our committed teachers and school administrators, without you this process would not be possible. You are our frontline workers and we cannot express how grateful we are. The Ministry commends you for driving this mandate and engaging our students in online instruction. We are mindful that this time is extremely challenging for you, and I dare say stressful, as you cope with designing engaging lessons, the psychological and emotional trauma because of COVID-19, staying in touch with your families and friends, and keeping yourself safe and active.

Please make use of the hotline services provided by the Department of Health, the Red Cross and a small team of Guidance Counsellors for coping strategies.

I use this medium to impress on our parents the significant role you will play over the next two weeks. Parents, we have a duty to you, your children and the community to ensure that there is continuous learning as we traverse through this turbulent, uncertain period. This cannot be successful unless we appreciate that it is a collaborative effort. While schools are organizing this process and are committed to continuing this mandate, it will be incumbent on you to provide the support in your home for our students, your children, to be logged on at the times they are scheduled to be connected for classes or to ensure that they complete the assigned work on the specific days. In our feedback report from schools, we were informed of challenges with internet connection and devices. The Ministry was able to finalize agreements with our two telecommunication companies and they have presented excellent packages of discounted data plans and a donation of some Mifi devices to facilitate online instruction.

Students, I can imagine that it has been very difficult for you since March 20, especially since you have had to recondition your minds from being in an environment with desks, chairs, your classmates, teachers and friends to a virtual learning environment. This required a tremendous amount of self- discipline to connect to the class sessions with your teachers and complete the assigned work with the help of your parents. This will continue to have that effect as you begin online classes as of Monday, April 20 which is the start of Term 3. This means that you are expected to return to online classes and engage with your teachers and fellow students to learn all that you can. I call on you to make the most of the learning opportunities made available to you.

I close this address with the reassurance that you are not alone. We are not alone. During this time, we must strengthen our faith experience and lean on the wisdom of the Almighty God to provide guidance and direction to our officials who make decisions on our behalf. Proverbs 3:5-6 reads

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.   In   all   your   ways acknowledge   Him, and He will make your paths straight.” God is working His purpose out, let us be vigilant in prayer and continue to trust Him to lead us through this.

We applaud you, we are here for you and we support you. Let us work together to provide a high quality educational experience for our children.

The Ministry will be providing periodic updates in the coming days.

May God continue to bless us all.

Statement on Confirmed COVID-19 Overseas Transfer Patient in Jamaica

JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM TCI HOSPITAL, TCI GOVERNMENT AND THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE BOARD

(Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Saturday, 18 April, 2020): The Turks and Caicos (TCI) Hospital wishes to confirm that a patient who was recently transferred back to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in Jamaica on April 16th 2020 for advanced critical care later tested positive for COVID-19. 

The patient was admitted to the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre for an emergency surgical re-operation, which was life-saving and required a transfer overseas for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and other tertiary level support not currently available in the TCI. An overseas referral was therefore generated and forwarded to the TCI National Health Insurance Board. 

The overseas medical facility was contacted by the TCI National Health Insurance Board and was provided with the required clinical information on the patient. This information was reviewed, and the patient was accepted by the overseas medical facility. The same process was followed to engage the Air Ambulance companies.

The Ministry of Health in Jamaica in consultation with other relevant authorities granted the standard approval to accept the critical and time-sensitive medical transfer via the treatment abroad program (TAP). There was an obvious reason for the patient’s medical condition and the patient did not meet the case definition for suspected COVID-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands or Jamaica. 

Based on the UHWI’s pre-screening form, there were no clinical suspicions related to COVID-19. The patient was fully isolated shortly after arrival and tested within 12 hours out of an abundance of caution. The results returned as positive for COVID-19 and all parties involved in the delivery of medical services to the patient have been notified. 

The patient remains in stable condition in the COVID-19 ICU. TCI Hospital, the TCI Ministry of Health and TCI National Health Insurance Board wishes to extend best wishes to the affected patient for a speedy recovery given the diagnosis. Due to patient confidentiality, no further details can be released. 

While medical teams across the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre and Ministry of Health continue to operate with elevated IPC precautions, the TCI Hospital in collaboration with the TCI Ministry of Health is currently reviewing the timelines leading up to the patient’s diagnosis. In addition, contact tracing was immediately activated in collaboration with the public health team to identify anyone who require screening and/or quarantine based on their risk level for exposure. 

The overwhelming majority of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 locally and globally present with symptoms in accordance with the case definition established by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, there is increasing scientific speculation into the occurrence of atypical presentations as the global pandemic evolves. TCI Hospital continues to monitor the latest evidence-based findings related to COVID-19 case definitions, conduct risk assessments and adjust infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures accordingly.

ENDS

Special Notes:

It is a standard protocol across many health care facilities to conduct a pre-screening questionnaire and/or precautionary COVID-19 testing as a risk mitigation measure upon acceptance and/or receipt of international patients.

 

Minister Health Announces COVID-19 Testing is Being Instituted in Country

The Ministry of Health is pleased to inform the general public that the Government is now in receipt of our first PCR analyzer; MIC qPCR Cycler- 4 Channel Unit. This machine was cleared out of customs on Friday afternoon, April 17, 2020. This analyzer is now in the Government's Public Health Laboratory. Virtual training for the Medical Laboratory

Technologists on operating, care, and maintenance of this particular PCR analyzer will immediately take place.

The PCR test is the gold standard throughout the world for testing and confirming the presence of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. It detects the genetic information of the virus, the RNA. That is only possible if the virus is present and someone is actively infected.”

In contrast to antibody testing, PCR tests directly detect the presence of the virus, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies, towards the virus. By detecting viral genetic material, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease are present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on.

“PCR is the most accurate and conclusive test for early detection of the virus in persons who are infected.

Testing with the COVID-19 PCR Analyzer is intended for use by trained clinical laboratory personnel specifically instructed and trained in the techniques of real-time PCR and in vitro diagnostic procedures.

Before the general use of this analyzer begins, the laboratory is mandated to perform all quality assurance measures; negative and positive controls must be run; validation of the accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of the testing system.

The first batch of patient samples tested on the PCR analyzer would also be sent to the respective reference laboratories for comparing and contrasting results, which is also a part of our quality assurance.

The PCR analyzer can perform 48 test per batch, each batch can be analyzed in the fast time of 25 minutes. Additional time would be required for sample extraction and preparation.

The Ministry of Health, is jubilant   that   the   Government   now   has   the   ability to immediately carry out additional testing on: persons currently in quarantine, contact persons of positive or suspected cases, persons in need of urgent medical care, and persons who may qualify to be placed in quarantine. In addition, the Ministry of Health is now in the position to roll out the strategy and protocols for wide spread community testing throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands, which will give Government and Health officials accurate information on the prevalence of this Coronavirus strain in our country.

It is my Government's mandate to fully form, and coordinate, local and international multi-sector partnerships with all key stakeholders, in our local fight of this global COVID-19 Pandemic. This includes private healthcare providers and private laboratories. To this end, my ministry is finalizing the regulations, protocols, and guidelines aimed at ensuring there are proper reporting and notifying, and that the necessary provisions are in place for ensuring the that all COVID-19 testing carried out for TCI residents are carried out in accordance with accepted international guidelines and quality standards, and that the relevant public health protocols are adhered to.”

As Minister of Health, I am committed to continued strengthening of the response to COVID-19. As such, the Ministry will be receiving more PCR analyzers, and is actively reviewing all COVID-19 Antibody Quick Test for procuring the most reliable testing system, for inclusion into our existing testing protocols.

The Ministry of Health will continue to update the general public on further developments in this area, and all other aspects of this COVID-19 Pandemic.

WE ALL MUST DO OUR PART, IF WE ARE TO BEAT THIS VIRUS. STAY SAFE!

HON. EDWIN ASTWOOD

MINISTER OF HEALTH, AGRICULTURE, SPORTS AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S COVID-19 UPDATE #39

The Ministry of Health would like to advise the public that as at 12am on 18th April, 2020:

ONE COVID-19 DEATH CONTINUES TO BE RECORDED IN TCI.

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CONFIRMED POSITIVE CASES REMAINS AT ELEVEN (11). Two confirmed positive cases are currently under hospital care.

THE NUMBER OF SUSPECTED CASES OF COVID-19 REMAIN AT TWO (2). THE TWO SUSPECTED CASES ARE TCI RESIDENTS WITH A POSSIBLE HISTORY OF CONTACT WITH CONFIRMED CASES.

The individuals met the WHO case definition for a suspected case of COVID-19. Samples have been collected and sent for testing.

QUARANTINE/OBSERVATION NUMBERS HAVE INCREASED TO 55. This includes: The active confirmed cases (patients in the TCI that are currently infected) (9), contacts of confirmed cases (15), indirect contacts of confirmed cases (11), suspected cases (2), relatives/contacts of suspected cases (5), symptomatic persons not meeting the case definition and their contacts (13). Persons under observation/quarantine are either not displaying symptoms or have not meet the case definition for COVID-19.

The change in quarantine/observation numbers is as a result of the quarantine period expiring for several individuals, with them being removed from quarantine/observation status; and symptomatic persons not quite meeting the case definition and their contacts being added to quarantine/observation status.

On 1st April, 2020 the case definition for COVID-19 was amended for TCI; a travel history is no longer needed to fit the criteria. Given the closure of the TCI borders it is likely that new case would be as a result of local transmission.

OVER THE PAST 24hrs, NO NEW TEST RESULTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED. As it currently stands, the TCI has received a total of eighty-three (83) test results, with seventy-two (72) confirmed to be negative and eleven (11) positive confirmations. Persons confirmed not to have COVID-19, and their contacts, were moved from quarantined status and asked to continue following proper guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Those cases confirmed positive are in isolation with contact tracing aggressively continuing.

THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY REMINDED THAT LOCKDOWN MEASURES HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AND YOU ARE TO STAY AT HOME – ONLY LEAVING FOR ESSENTIAL TRAVEL UNDER THE SPECIFIED GUIDENCE.

The Ministry of Health ALSO takes this opportunity to remind the public of offenses committed under section 18 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 in regard to false Statements/information. You do not have to be the originator of the statement/information in order to be charged under the law.

Please note the following definitions:

  • A suspected person is someone who meets the case definition as outlined by WHO and CARPHA - and is experiencing symptoms.
  • A person in quarantine is an individual on island who has come from infected country(ies) or may have come in proximity to suspected or confirmed cases - and have not exhibited symptoms.

Let's continue to reduce the risk by: 1. Washing our hands for 20secs or more 2. Practicing social distancing 3. Prepare your home, office and other surroundings by following the advice of the Ministry of Health and other credible health agencies.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health website, www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call our hotline numbers, (649) 232-9444 and (649) 333-0911, if you or someone you know has symptoms or signs of COVID-19.