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COVID wreaks havoc with PIF planning

Niue’s premier Dalton Tagelagi may not be able to attend the Pacific Island Leaders Forum next week in Fiji.

According to reports from the island nation, Mr Tagelagi remains in isolation after becoming a close contact of a COVID case who arrived on the first quarantine free flight from New Zealand last week.

As the Pacific leaders prepare for what could be the one of the most important regional meetings, the pandemic has reared its ugly head.

COVID cases have been on the rise across the Pacific.  Nauru, which until three weeks ago was COVID free, now has more than 4,000 active cases, heading towards half of its entire population.

Similarly other island nations have reported rises in cases.

Niue’s premier Dalton Tagelagi during a zoom meeting with Forum members. He may not be able to attend the Pacific Island Leaders Forum next week in Fiji. Picture: Dalton Tagelagi Twitter

In Niue, the scenario is the same, with a rise in COVID cases.

Mr Tagelagi was scheduled to travel to New Zealand, but a government spokesperson said he was still at home in isolation.

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There are no reports or statements that suggested whether a test had returned positive for the Niue premier or not.

Mr Tagelagi was scheduled to meet with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week. That will eventuate if tests results come back as negative.

Meanwhile, the Niue Government delegation has arrived in New Zealand minus the premier. This is the same delegation that will depart for Fiji on Thursday to attend the Forum Leaders meeting.

Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Henry Puna. Picture:PIF

The Forum Leaders meeting will see large delegations from Pacific governments converge in Fiji. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern have confirmed their participation.

The geopolitical attention on the Pacific has driven Pacific nations to come closer. Quarrels among the region have been calmed and for now the region has committed to dealing with matters that affect them through the Forum.

There are several key agreements which will be discussed and agreed upon including aviation deals which could result in better air connectivity, cheaper airfares and improved supply chain.

The contentious China deal will also be put forward to the region to discuss as a group.

Committees prepare for the Forum Leaders meeting. Niue’s premier Dalton Tagelagi may not be able to attend the Pacific Island Leaders Forum next week in Fiji. Picture PIF

COVID situation in Fiji

The Omicron variant is rampantly spreading in Fiji once again. In the last three days, Fiji has recorded 181 cases.

While mask wearing remains a voluntary exercise, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services of Fiji has been advising businesses to enforce it and other COVID safe protocols at work places.

Hospitals in Fiji have put a ban on visitation while hotels in the tourism belt have been advised to take precautions. Picture Supplied

Hospitals in Fiji have put a ban on visitation while hotels in the tourism belt have been advised to take precautions.

Apart from the government delegations, journalists from the region and other parts of the world are also set to be in Fiji from July 12 to 14.

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