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Tracking COVID across the Pacific

FIJI has seen a surge in COVID cases over the last few days, as the country struggles to contain the situation.

The island country, known for its rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons and a population of 896,445, is facing a potentially devastating situation but the government had not made any mention of a national lockdown yet.

According to reports from RNZ, the Fijian government was reluctant to go into lockdown.

As of Tuesday June 22, Fiji recorded 180 new cases taking the country’s total to 2,270.

There were two deaths recorded taking the death toll to seven.

New Zealand stepped in to help by proving $10 million towards Fiji’s Covid-19 response.

In addition, Australia and New Zealand sent a team each of medical specialists to help curb the cases.

“The assistance includes up to $5 million for the government to deliver Covid-19 operations, and $5 million to local civil society organisations working directly with households to mitigate poverty risks, including through the provision of food rations,” said New Zealand Foreign Affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta, as reported by RNZ.

Meanwhile, PNG is preparing to receive the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Sinopharm in this week, according to the PNG Health Minister Jelta Wong.

He said the World Health Organisation approved of Sinopharm as one of the vaccines for the world. It has been cleared by the country’s scientific and pharmaceutical boards for use.

Wong also lashed out on health workers and the people saying they were hindering the fast uptake of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine that arrived from Australia.

“If you care about your loved ones especially the older members of your family and those that are sick then get the vaccine,” Mr Wong said.

“Ignorance and selfishness are the biggest problems we face here.”

According to the PNG Covid-19 National Control Centre, 45,194 more people have been vaccinated.

As of Saturday Papua New Guinea recorded 33 new Covid-19 cases raising the country’s total infections to 17,013.

The death toll stands at 173.

The New Zealand Government donated 146,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 to Papua New Guinea through the Covax-Facility which arrived last Monday (June 14).

Meanwhile Nauru, Niue, Tuvalu and Tonga still did not report any case.

According to reports, the Premier of Niue Dalton Tagelagi made plans to accept vaccinated visitors around August or September.

Cook Islands has reported its first case beginning of this month (June 7).

Palau has also recorded its first case of Covid-19 (May 31).

But the Government said the country was at no infection risk.

So far, 17 countries in the Pacific region including the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Palau, New Zealand and Wallis and Futuna have reported cases and deaths.

Table: The information on the table was collected from John Hopkins University and Medicine Centre, Pacific Community. (Updated on Tuesday, June 22).

Sources include RNZ.

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