Race to send vaccines, medical aid as COVID-19 reaches Pacific islands


SYDNEY (Reuters) – Pacific island nations which might be a few of the final locations on this planet to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic are recording a rising variety of COVID-19 instances, prompting a rush to present vaccines, medical groups and meals aid.

Concern in regards to the detection of the coronavirus in tsunami-hit Tonga, the place one new case was recorded on Friday, has been heightened by 1000’s of infections sweeping neighbouring Pacific islands.

In the Solomon Islands, the place riots, not linked to the pandemic, noticed buildings within the capital, Honiara, burn in November, an outbreak of the Delta pressure with 2,357 instances has overwhelmed the well being system, aid companies say.

Australia has despatched 4 defence flights to the Solomon Islands over the previous two weeks with a medical workforce, vaccines, and emergency meals for hospital sufferers and tens of 1000’s of households.

Katie Greenwood, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross Pacific, stated instances had taken off quickly within the Solomon Islands, the place simply 11% of the inhabitants was absolutely vaccinated.

“People are scared and its affecting everybody,” she stated.

“Fragile well being techniques get overwhelmed in a short time.”

The Solomon Islands authorities has reported 21 deaths from COVID, and imposed restrictions on actions.

Solomon Islands National University professor Transform Aqorau stated Honiara has been shut off, inflicting a shortage of contemporary meals, and he had been consuming from one plant in his backyard.

“They have blocked Honiara in, distributors from exterior cannot are available in,” he instructed Reuters by cellphone.

He credited important staff for protecting the facility and water working, regardless of rising numbers of workers testing constructive and needing to isolate.

The rush for vaccination had additionally prompted crowding with “a excessive stage of lack of obedience to social distancing”, he stated.

Vaccination websites closed from Wednesday to stop the unfold of the virus to well being staff and the general public, the well being ministry stated in an announcement, including it could “re-strategise” distribution.

An Australian medical workforce has additionally been despatched to Kiribati, which has 913 instances after permitting a flight with returning nationals to land in January, its first outbreak since lifting border restrictions.

Palau, the place 99% of the inhabitants of 18,000 is vaccinated, recorded 2,115 COVID-19 instances in a month.

Tonga recorded its first group transition of COVID-19 on Tuesday, after two staff at a cargo wharf have been contaminated. There at the moment are 5 instances.

An inflow of tsunami aid introduced by international navy ships has been delivered with out contact with Tongan individuals, and pallets are quarantined for 72 hours.

Greenwood stated Pacific islands had labored laborious for 2 years to hold COVID out however new strains have been extra virulent and more durable to detect. “There could also be a small chink within the armour that enables COVID to get in,” she stated.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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