As COVID-19 hits Pacific islands for the first time, neighboring countries scramble to provide aid – National
Pacific island nations that are some of the last in the world affected by the coronavirus pandemic are recording a growing number COVID-19 cases, prompting urgent delivery of vaccines, medical personnel and food aid.
Concern about the detection of coronavirus in tsunami-stricken Tonga, where a new case was reported on Friday, has been heightened as thousands of infections swept through neighboring Pacific islands.
In the Solomon Islands, where riot – unrelated to the pandemic – buildings in the capital Honiara caught fire in November, an outbreak of the Delta strain with 2,357 cases overwhelmed the health system, aid agencies said.
Australia has sent four defense flights to the Solomon Islands in the past two weeks with an emergency medical, vaccine and food team for hospital patients and tens of thousands of households.
Katie Greenwood, the head of the delegation for the International Federation of Pacific Red Cross, said cases have been spreading rapidly in the Solomon Islands, where only 11 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
“People are scared and it affects everyone,” she said.
“Fragile health systems get overwhelmed very quickly.”
The Solomon Islands government has reported 21 deaths from COVID and imposed restrictions on movement activities.
COVID-19: WHO ‘particularly concerned’ about countries with low vaccination rates
Professor Transform Aqorau of Solomon Islands National University said Honiara was closed, causing a shortage of fresh food and he ate from a plant in his garden.
“They blocked Honiara from going inside, vendors from outside couldn’t get in,” he told Reuters by phone.
He credits essential workers for keeping electricity and water running, even though a growing number of employees are testing positive and need to be quarantined.
The rush to vaccinate also caused crowding with ‘high levels of lack of compliance and social distancing’, he said.
The Department of Health said in a statement it would close vaccination sites from Wednesday to prevent the spread of the virus to healthcare workers and the public, adding that it would “re-establish distribution strategy.
COVID-19 arrives on the Pacific island of Kiribati, one of the last uninfected countries on Earth
An Australian medical team has also been dispatched to Kiribati, home to 913 cases after allowing a flight with returning citizens to land in January, the first outbreak since the lifting of border restrictions .
Palau, where 99% of its population of 18,000 are vaccinated, has recorded 2,115 cases of COVID-19 in a month.
Tonga recorded its first community transition of COVID-19 on Tuesday, after two workers at a cargo terminal have been infected. There are currently five cases.
One tsunami aid line The foreign naval vessels brought in were delivered without contact with the Tongans, and the pallets were quarantined for 72 hours.
Greenwood said the Pacific islands have worked hard for two years to contain COVID, but the new strains of the bacteria are more virulent and harder to detect. “There could be a small crack in the armor allowing COVID to get in,” she said.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham Editing by Robert Birsel)
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8594316/covid-pacific-islands-aid/ As COVID-19 hits Pacific islands for the first time, neighboring countries scramble to provide aid – National