20 Apr 2020

Call to suspend New Caledonia repatriation flights

5:59 am on 20 April 2020

A government minister in New Caledonia has come out against the repatriation programme drawn up for residents who stranded overseas because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Philippe Germain, who was the president of the preceding administration and is a member of the Caledonia Together party, says returning travellers again risk exposing New Caledonians to the virus.

The president of New Caledonia's collegial government, Philippe Germain.

New Caledonia government minister Philippe Germain Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Based on an assessment of the health authorities urging caution, Mr Germain has now called for repatriation flights from France to be suspended.

To date 18 people in New Caledonia have been identified as carriers and all are people returning from abroad.

After almost two weeks without any new cases and no transmission in the community, lockdown provisions in place since 25 March will be loosened from Monday.

A repatriation schedule was drawn up at the end of March after an outcry by hundreds of residents stuck across the globe who could no longer get scheduled flights to Noumea.

New Caledonia had earlier ordered a closure of the border and flew out tourists with planes returning empty.

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