Another 303 Covid-19 cases in Tahiti

1:23 pm on 4 November 2020

French Polynesia has recorded another 303 Covid-19 cases, raising the total of the pandemic to 8949.

Group of viruses, computer illustration.

Photo: AFP

The health authorities have changed their reporting system and no longer say how many cases are considered active.

87 people with Covid-19 symptoms are in hospital, including 26 in intensive care.

38 people have died.

All but 62 cases were detected after the borders were reopened in July and mandatory quarantine requirements were abolished to boost tourism.

A curfew is in place to try to curb the spread of the virus, but unlike in France, there is no lockdown.

Earlier the French High Commissioner, Dominique Sorain, said as long as the hospitals had care capacity, another lockdown was not envisaged.

"Fighting against the virus is protecting our and your health, but it is also protecting your jobs, your incomes, your children. It's not possible to separate these approaches."

Across the political spectrum, there was also no clamour for a lockdown.

However, a unionist Patrick Galenon told local Radio 1 that inaction could lead to the death of many more.

"We are twice as infected as mainland France, and case numbers rise. Therefore we need a lockdown right away. The prime minister and the president were very clear."

A lockdown in March and April eliminated the virus.

Since the border reopened in July 28,000 tourists have arrived, in addition to thousands of French officials and residents stranded overseas.

With them, the coronavirus was back.

Dominique Sorain and Edouard Fritch provide Covid-19 update

Dominique Sorain and Edouard Fritch provide Covid-19 update Photo: supplied

However, President Edouard Fritch said keeping the borders shut would mean to let numerous businesses die and to condemn 20,000 wage earners to unemployment.

Fritch said noone in particular was to blame for the surge in Covid-19 cases, which in August he predicted to plateau at about 200.

"This reality is because we were not rigourous enough with social distancing, because we continued to have gatherings and because the measures to protect ourselves and others were not respected."

The size of gatherings is being limited, sporting events are held without spectators, and restaurants in Tahiti and Moorea have to close by nine to comply with a curfew.

Fritch implored everybody to help break the transmission of the virus, as there had been a one-day spike of more than 700 cases last week.

"If we don't react in a strong way in the weeks to come, cases will range between 4,500 a day and, if we respond well, fewer than 500 a day."

Fritch said French Polynesia now had the fourth highest infection rate in the world, but Dominique Sorain is hopeful that the curfew, the use of masks and social distancing will help.