17 Feb 2022

The latest Covid-19 stories in the Pacific

6:13 pm on 17 February 2022

Positive Covid-19 cases among repatriated passengers in Tonga

Twenty-five passengers who arrived in Tonga on Tuesday, have tested positive for Covid-19.

This was confirmed by prime minister Hu'akavameiliku in a media statement today. It said only two of the passengers were deemed "infectious".

The infected passengers were among 180 Tongan nationals on three repatriation flights from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

Most of the repatriated passengers are undergoing two weeks of quarantine at the Tanoa Hotel in Nuku'alofa with the exception of the pair who were deemed infectious.

They are in isolation at the Mu'a Health Center. There are currently 208 confirmed cases of covid in Tonga.

Two new Covid-19 cases in the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands government has confirmed there are two new cases of Covid-19.

The pair are close contacts of the first positive case reported in the Cook Islands.

All three are in isolation.

The Cook Islands has reopened to visitors, but everyone has to adhere to certain rules, including using the CookSafe app.

The Cook Islands has reopened to visitors, but everyone has to adhere to certain rules, including using the CookSafe app. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Prime Minister Mark Brown said it is not surprising that they have also tested positive.

He said they initially tested negative but after developing sore throats which worsened yesterday they were tested again.

All three of the cases will be discharged once they have reached the end of their 10-day isolation period, as long as they are symptom free for at least 72 hours beforehand.

Kiribati Covid-19 death toll stands at nine

The death toll from the Covid-19 outbreak in Kiribati continues to increase as the atoll island nation recorded its ninth fatality on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry reports that the victim was an elderly patient who was admitted to an isolation centre yesterday.

There are currently five other people in isolation facilities requiring further monitoring and medical treatment.

The Health Ministry also reports 72 new community infections -- 37 cases confirmed through PCR lab test and 17 cases confirmed through Rapid Antigen Test for South Tarawa, Betio and Buota.

While another 18 cases have were confirmed for Abaiang and North Tarawa.

There are now over 2,700 people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the government has confirmed another group of health and medical specialists are in the country to provide urgent support to local authorities to battle the Covid-19 outbreak.

New Caledonia records three more Covid deaths

Three more people have died of Covid-19 in New Caledonia, taking the death toll in the French Territory to 287.

1337 new positive cases recorded on Wednesday.

This brings the total number of current active cases to 14,458.

There are 4 patients in ICU and 40 people in hospital.

41,681 cases have been recorded since September last year.

Over 200 Covid-19 cases in Tonga

There are now 208 confirmed cases of covid Tonga, up from 139 cases confirmed on Monday.

Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku announced the new figures at a press conference in Tonga this morning.

He said that six of the cases had returned negative results but would remain in quarantine for further tests.

NZ to donate more vaccines to COVAX

New Zealand is donating further vaccines to COVAX and has commenced the roll-out of Pfizer's paediatric Covid vaccine in Polynesia.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the latest donation to COVAX will also support vaccination programmes in developing countries, including in parts of the Pacific and in Africa where immunisation rates are low.

New Zealand is contributing a further 7.3 million vaccines to COVAX including 5.8 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1.5 million doses of Janssen vaccine.

Through New Zealand's Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) with Pfizer, paediatric vaccine doses are also being provided to countries in Polynesia.

The roll out of these doses has already commenced in Niue and the Cook Islands and planning is underway for donations to Samoa, Tonga and Tokelau.

Samoa introduces new travel advisory for American Samoans

Samoa now requires travellers from American Samoa to be quarantined.

Since the pandemic travallers from the territory to Apia have not been subject to quarantine.

In a special travel advisory, Samoa's Ministry of Health revised conditions for intending travellers from the Territory.

All passengers entering Samoa from Pago Pago will go into quarantine for at least 14 days or as determined by the Ministry of Health.

If they test positive in quarantine they will stay for up to 21 days or more.

CNMI updates Covid-19 protocols

Health officials in the Northern Marianas are updating Covid-19 protocols there.

It's now making its 5th day testing optional for vaccinated travellers

Under the new procedures, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers must still fill out a health declaration form before entering the CNMI but, unlike vaccinated travellers, unvaccinated individuals will be given a registration code for fifth day testing.

Vaccinated essential workers will no longer be quarantined but unvaccinated workers must fill out a quarantine application form before entering the CNMI.