Over the last couple of days in December 2021, the Turks and Caicos has seen a significant increase in the number of COVID 19 cases. One day alone, there was 124 new cases. One report indicated that at least 60% of the new cases came from Tourists. The thing is we do not know whether the tourists brought that with them or if they contracted it while on island. Many of us that reside on the island are attending events and are not wearing masks and maybe we are the ones that spreading the COVID and we do not know because we are not required to get tested unless we are travelling abroad.
I believe the reason why the tourists make up a high percentage of the new cases is because they are the ones that are being tested to meet the travel requirement in order to return to their country. It should be noted that even tourists that are vaccinated are required to take a test to return to the US. Meanwhile in the Turks and Caicos Islands, only unvaccinated returning residents are required to take a test to return Turks and Caicos.
With that significant increase in the number of cases, we will need to conduct more testing and review the requirements for travelling to the Turks and Caicos
Amend travel Requirements for Visitors
Currently in order to travel to the Turks and Caicos, visitors, 12 years and older must have a negative COVID 19 test prior to three days of arrival to the Turks and Caicos. I note that the Government is now changing that requirement from 12 years to 2 years old which is similar to the US requirement. However, given the increase in the cases, perhaps the Government should also amend the number of days from 3 days to 1 day for the testing. I know the challenge of course will be getting the approval from TCI assured portal. Obviously, the portal will need to be upgraded and automated before this recommended amendment take places because the waiting time for approval is very long for some individuals. The reason I am suggesting one day is because you can be positive for COVID 19 after you take the test within 3 days but at least if you take it within 1 day, you will know whether or not you have COVID 19
Review travel requirements for returning residents
I am vaccinated and so whenever I travel and return to the Turks and Caicos Islands, I am not required to take COVID 19 test to return home. However, as we know being vaccinated protects you but it does not prevent you from getting COVID 19. Therefore, I think all returning residents whether vaccinated or not should get tested before returning home. The thing is you can have COVID 19 and don’t know you have it and as a result you can spread it innocently to someone on the plane or at the airport.
I believe the Government wants to encourage more persons to get vaccinated and perhaps that is why the requirement is different for unvaccinated persons but as mentioned previously, you can be vaccinated and still contract the virus.
More testing is needed
I know that once someone in a household has contracted the virus, the entire household is tested. However, given this sudden increase in the number of cases in the country, perhaps we need to start conducting more testing throughout the community as we just don’t know who has the virus.
I know that it is a tough call to make when dealing with COVID 19. However, it appears to be out of hand and almost every family seems to be impacted. Therefore, in order to prevent further spread of this virus, the Government will have to implement some new measures in place. Furthermore, we need to do our part by washing our hands, wearing masks and physically distancing ourselves from others.