15 Jun 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

8:50 am on 15 June 2021
Permanent Secretary of Health, James Fong

Permanent Secretary of Health, James Fong Photo: Fiji Govt

Fiji seeks Australian help to modify Covid-19 strategy

Fiji's Health Ministry is looking to Australia to help develop its contingency plan to address the Covid-19 crisis in the country.

The move comes amid an alarming rate of infections - over 1,000 since the outbreak started in April.

Health Secretary James Fong said most of these cases are linked to existing clusters.

But Dr Fong said there is a need to review other cases where the source is unknown.

"And I am also looking at getting help from our partners in Australia to come and help us develop some of the contingency plans that are required in case we persistently get up to 200. So I am already planning up to that phase in case we get up to 200 {daily active cases]."

Wallis vaccination uptake still low

Fewer than 100 people in Wallis and Futuna have had a Covid-19 vaccination this month as unused vaccine stocks risk expiring.

Figures released by the French prefecture show that within the first week of the inoculation campaign in April 47.2 percent of the population had the first shot of the Moderna vaccine.

Since then only another 553 people, or 6.2 percent of the eligible population, opted for the vaccine.

France sent 18,000 doses in March to counter the Covid-19 community outbreak which rapidly infected several hundred people and prompted an immediate lockdown.

However, in view of the resistance to the vaccination drive, 5,500 doses are about to be sent back, with medical staff saying it is unacceptable to let them expire

Wallis and Futuna is again Covid-19-free.

The outbreak claimed seven lives.

CNMI offers $500 worth of travel vouchers for tourists

The Northern Marianas is attempting to entice more travellers to the CNMI by offering travel incentives.

Aside from a low $US400 airfare and a free Covid-19 test, the CNMI's Tourism Investment Program will also give tourists $US500 worth of travel vouchers.

The CNMI is about to restart its tourism industry starting with a familiarisation tour for government officials, airlines executive, and media from South Korea later this month.

South Korea's first and largest low-cost carrier, Jeju Air, meanwhile, plans to resume its Incheon-Saipan route on July 10.

New Caledonia bill wants to cut import duties of NZ and OZ goods

Lawmakers in New Caledonia have drawn up a bill seeking to exempt a range of New Zealand and Australian products from customs duty to help lower the cost of living.

The bill was drawn up by members of the anti-independence Future with Confidence coalition, which wants to counter the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

They say New Caledonia has proven to be dependent on imports and therefore turned to neighbouring countries able to provide food supplies quickly.

Last year, imports from New Zealand rose to $US13 million, attracting duties of $US150,000.

The proposed exemption would be for a year and cover in the main food items and hygiene products.

New Caledonia's Industry Federation has expressed surprise that it wasn't consulted.