Last week I gave an update on how some of the Pacific Island Nations are dealing with Coronavirus. Below is an update from a few other Island Nations that I missed last week. Social distancing is unimaginable in this sociable region where Pacific Islanders are constantly hugging, embracing, sharing, shaking hands, etc.
I promise to get back to culturally relevant stories from the Pacific Islands soon. I promise!
The country’s Covid-19 alert status was upgraded to Code Yellow. The security status is timed to coincide with Parliament passing new emergency laws to provide health authorities with the power to control people’s movement. Prime Minister Henry Puna said, “And because our borders are open with New Zealand, which is a must for us, we need to mobilise to the next level. No doubt there will be additional measures that government will be required to make. This is about being prepared.”
Code Yellow empowers authorities to open a 24/7 National Emergency Operations Centre, and to take targeted action to delay widespread transmission of the virus.
On 14 March Governor Leon Guerrero declared a public health emergency. She had also issued several executive orders to close non-essential businesses, government agencies, parks and beaches and for people to limit physical. The governor had also appealed to Washington for test kits and financial assistance.
According to the Ministry of Health there is one person under investigation “who was seen at the Belau National Hospital and may be infected with the coronavirus.
The government said the public should remain calm and continue to practice preventive measures including hand-washing, proper coughing etiquette and social distancing.
The Ministry of Health is continuing to send out warnings and advice for the country to adhere to as it fights to keep Samoa free from the killer Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are undertaking active surveillance to detect cases of Covid-19 in Samoa early,” said Ministry of Health.
The Ministry also encourages all persons who have travelled or transited through countries affected by Covid-19 to monitor themselves for the development of fever, cough and shortness of breath. “We are all at risk for Covid-19, especially persons 60 years and over with underlying health conditions.”
The Solomon Islands government has extended a school closure notice, previously only for institutions in the capital Honiara and Guadalcanal, to the rest of the country.
The Solomon Star reported the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, Franco Rodie issued the directive, as part of the country’s Covid-19 response strategy.
All kava bars are expected to be closed starting today (Tuesday) and throughout the State of Emergency (SOE) period. There will be no more kava consumption in public areas in municipal areas throughout the country.
This measure to control the spread of coronavirus in Vanuatu will be made official in an instruction which will be signed by the Caretaker Minister responsible for the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Bruno Lengkon.
Wallis and Futuna:
Customary leaders in Wallis and Futuna have called for the territory’s complete isolation by stopping all shipping in the face of the Covid-19 threat. To date the territory had no confirmed Covid-19 cases and passenger air links had been suspended, allowing only freight to be flown in. Shipping services had been reduced to allow only fuel supplies and the off-loading of containers, but there were calls to stop them completely.
The prefect Thierry Queffelec has told the local broadcaster some supplies were still needed, saying a container or a box didn’t kill. He said it was not the time to put one’s head in the sand but to trust science and share its findings. Meanwhile the territorial assembly approved the release of $US160,000 to assist residents stuck overseas.