22 Apr 2020

New Caledonia extends quarantine for returnees to three weeks

1:16 pm on 22 April 2020

New Caledonia's government has agreed to extend the mandatory quarantine of returning residents from two weeks to three.

AirCalin Airbus at Noumea Airport

AirCalin Airbus at Noumea Airport Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

It had earlier decided to impose a two-week isolation period but the largest pro-independence party asked for it to be extended to three to avoid the risk of Covid-19 being introduced into the community.

The party leader Daniel Goa warned that should the French High Commission oppose the extension, it would trigger a major political crisis and force the party to ask France to leave.

The comment drew the ire of the dominant anti-independence alliance which described it as unacceptable.

However, the government has now added another week to its original order, saying the third week could be spent in self-isolation at home.

Returnees have been accommodated in Noumea hotels which have space for 850 people who have to stay in their rooms.

The government wants to scale back the operation to 600 which in turn had delayed repatriation flights.

18 people have tested positive for Covid-19, but none in the past two weeks.

The lockdown imposed in March was loosened at the start of the week, with first schools opening today.