19 Feb 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

5:50 pm on 19 February 2021

Corpses remain in Samoan mortuaries for more than a year; CNMI executive employees to get vaccinated; Campaign launched to help Fijian farmers after cyclone and more.

Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital

Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital Photo: facebook

Corpses remain in Samoan mortuaries for more than a year

Twenty three corpses are still in Samoan government mortuaries awaiting post mortems, with having been there for more than 12 months.

TV1Samoa reported the numbers were confirmed by Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, who said the problem was the country did not have a pathologist or medical examiner.

Samoa usually relied on a pathologists from overseas but had not been able to get one into the country during to the Covid pandemic.

Fuiavailili said four bodies are at the Savaii mortuary while 19 are at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital on Upolu.

It is still not clear when a pathologist would be available.

Mandate to ensure CNMI executive employees vaccinated against Covid-19

All executive branch employees in the Northern Marianas must now get fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Governor Ralph Torres signed a directive making it mandatory for all employees to complete a vaccination programme.

Under the directive, all employees are mandated to either complete the programme or obtain an exemption.

Those who are averse to taking the vaccine may request for a medical exception accommodation or a religious exemption accommodation.

In the meantime, health officials say total over 5,700 people have already received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, while over 9,000 have so far had their first dose.

With the CNMI population estimated at 55,000 people, over 10 percent of the islands' population have already been vaccinated.

Programme launched to help Fiji farmers

A programme has been launched in Fiji to assist more than 1,000 farming households affected by Cyclones Yasa and Ana.

The Cash for Cultivation initiative was launched in Sigatoka.

It will provide help to purchase farming equipment and things such as seedlings.

Agriculture Minister, Mahendra Reddy, said the growth and development of the sector is dependent on the performance of farmers and stakeholders.

He said Fiji had the potential to export almost $US50 million worth of agricultural commodities in the next three years.

"We wish to place agriculture as a leading economic sector for Fiji and leading export earners to mobilize medium to large farms to grow in response to the market signals.

"This is a sector with huge potential."

Fiji Law Society worried about bills

The Fiji Law Society says the government's proposed changes to the Anti-Corruption and Abolition of Assessors Bills could have implications that 'are potentially significant'.

In a letter to members of parliament, the Society expressed its 'deep concern at the government's intention to use the expedited procedure under the house standing orders' to fast-track the bills.

The law society said the proposed changes were fundamental to human rights and should be taken to the people.

It called for a proper public consultation process to take place to ensure thorough consideration of each of the Bills.