17 Feb 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific for 17 February

4:27 pm on 17 February 2021

Fiji reviews Agreement on Establishment of Pacific Islands Forum; over 500 students from a Vanuatu primary school are sent home following a series of earthquakes; there's another case of Covid in the CNMI and more.

Fiji’s Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau addressing Parliamentarians on the health impacts of climate change.

Fiji’s Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau addressing Parliamentarians on the health impacts of climate change. Photo: Supplied/ Infinity Images Fiji

Fiji reviews Forum Agreement

Fiji will review its 2005 Agreement on the Establishment of the Pacific Islands Forum.

This comes after the government moved a motion in Parliament.

The forum has been rocked with division following Micronesia's threat to withdraw from the group after its candidate did not get the top job at the secretariat.

It was not clear whether Fiji's decision to review the agreement stemmed from this fallout.

Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says he has received copies of the treaty and written analysis from the attorney-general's office.

Ratu Epeli said Parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence will review the agreement.

He said the committee could table a report to Parliament no later than 30 days from February 13.

Students sent home after Tuesday earthquakes

Over 500 students from Suango primary school on Vanuatu's Efate were sent home yesterday following a series of earthquakes.

The Deputy Principal, Valeriane Sam, said although a tsunami warning was not issued but school management has decided to send home its students for their safety during lunch time yesterday.

The National Disaster Management Office said there was an earthquake of 5.8 around midday. It was one of a series of aftershocks from a tremor which struck on Monday.

Suango is situated at Vanuatu's biggest village, Mele which had over 5,000 inhabitants.

Mele village is one of the areas classified as a tsunami danger zone and Ms Sam says her school is located about 20 metres from Mele Bay which is why students were sent home.

A fresh Covid-19 case in the CNMI

Another case of Covid-19 has been reported in the Northern Marianas, bringing the Commonwealth's total number of cases to 135.

The person was identified by travel screening and fifth day testing upon arrival.

They have been moved to the designated isolation area at the Kanoa Resort Alternative Care Site for monitoring.

Out of the 135 total Covid-19 cases, 109 have been identified by travel screening while 26 were local transmissions.

Of the 109 travellers 65 are from the US mainland, 32 from a US territory, and 12 from a foreign country.

There are currently two people in isolation.

Kiribati to keep borders closed

The Kiribati President has confirmed the country's borders will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Radio Kiribati reported Taneti Maamau made the statement when asked if sea and air travel can be allowed between Kiribati and Covid-19-free countries in the Pacific like Tuvalu and Nauru.

Maamau said it was important for the Government to follow and stick to the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 travel restrictions and guidelines for the protection of the people and Kiribati as a whole.

He said the best and safest way for Kiribati to remain free from the coronavirus is to stay alone and prevent overseas arrivals.