23 Feb 2022

Covid-19 in the Pacific

7:16 am on 23 February 2022

Vanuatu detects four more Covid-19 cases in MIQ

Vanuatu health authorities have detected four new Covid-19 cases in quarantine.

The four new cases were reported by Prime Minister Bob Loughman and all are from New Caledonia.

Three of the new cases are close contacts of an infected passenger on the latest New Caledonia flight and the other active case is a frontline worker

Mr Loughman said all contacts of the infected frontline worker will remain quarantined until they are fully cleared.

Vanuatu has a total of eight Covid-19 positive cases at the border.

Currently, there's no indication of community transmission.

New Caledonia records 1441 Covid cases

New Caledonia has recorded another 1,441 Covid-19 cases in the past 72-hour reporting period.

After another rise in the incidence of the virus last week, the numbers are again on a decline, but there are still about 11,000 active cases.

The number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients is unchanged at 43, of whom six are in intensive care.

Since September, when the Delta variant first hit the territory, more than 45,000 people contracted the virus and 287 died.

Since last Tuesday, the health pass, which is needed to access a range of venues, is only valid for people who have received the booster shot.

However, because some people had not been able to get their booster shot in time, the French High Commission has granted those affected a grace period until 2 March.

The restriction on the size of meetings to 30 people and the mask mandates remain in force until Sunday.

Over 1700 Covid cases recorded in French Polynesia

French Polynesia has recorded another 1,778 Covid-19 cases in the 72-hour reporting period covering the weekend.

The authorities say 20 people are in hospital, including four in intensive care.

There are officially just over 5,700 active cases, but the figure is believed to be higher because it excludes people who are self-testing and not displaying any symptoms.

The government says a technical glitch has been fixed in its vaccine pass system, which prevented the issuing of QR codes required for travel.

The attestation was needed for those wanting to embark on domestic flights, but not for international travel because paper certificates remained acceptable.

The problem arose in France over the weekend and affected services in places other than French Polynesia.

Covid-19 vaccinations are compulsory for anyone dealing with the public and for individuals deemed to be vulnerable.

Those defying the order must pay a fine of $US475.

Pacific GP flags Covid plan for households

A top Pacific health expert has flagged the importance of creating a Covid plan within households.

South Auckland GP Api Talemaitoga said Omicron is highly infectious and is spreading rapidly in the community in New Zealand - with around 50 percent of all infections among Pacific community members.

"There is a bit of an inevitability here because of the way Omicron spreads, so get ready. Having phone numbers of your GP, pharmacist and neighbors, friends who may be able to deliver groceries to your house, should you get infected or be isolating at your house."

Dr Talemaitoga is reminding Pasifika to get their booster shot, he says if people haven't been vaccinated at all... it is not too late to start the process.

Health authorities in Solomon Islands expect a surge in Covid-19 cases in rural areas

Health authorities in Solomon Islands expect a surge in Covid-19 cases in rural areas where up to 80 percent of the population live.

The death toll remains at 83 and the total number of infections since the outbreak began last month is now 5,891 - of which more than 4,000 are in Honiara.

Solomon Islands Minister of Health, Culwick Togamana.

Solomon Islands Minister of Health, Culwick Togamana. Photo: Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

The Health Minister Culwick Togamana said Covid-19 case numbers are now dropping in the capital, Honiara.

"The virus in now transmitting to our rural areas where 70-80 percent of our population reside therefore we are execting a surge in Covid-19 cases througout our provincial hospitals."

Togamana said the Ministry of Health this week will continue to deploy more oxgen supplies, PPE gear and medication to provincial hospitals, clinics, area health centres and nurse aid posts.

"People who test positive for Covid-19 should not wait for their symptoms to get worse before showing up to hospital," he said.

There were 78 new cases in the latest reporting period on Monday, though a number of provinces didn't get their figures through.

Togamana said people with Covid-19 like symptoms or test positive to Covid-19 should not wait till they are bed ridden.

"We are seeing late presentations among many of the severly sick persons at the National Referral Hospital including Covid-19 related deaths. Please do not wait for symptoms to worsen."