21 May 2022

News in Brief from around the Pacific Saturday 21st May

3:20 pm on 21 May 2022

Four more positive Covid cases were reported in Kiribati

Kiribati's Ministry of Health and Medical Services has confirmed four new positive Covid-19 cases

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Kiribati now stands at 3,075 and 2,596 recoveries.

The country's death toll remains at 13.

Meanwhile, the quarantine and isolation centres on Christmas Island are accommodating 94 passengers who arrived on May 8th on a Solomon Airways flight.

Secretary of the Ministry of Line and Phoenix Islands, Natario Kiati said the 94 passengers are from several government ministries and state-owned enterprises, along with public servants stationed on Christmas, as well as locals and their children.

Kiati said the passengers are being tested regularly for Covid and a final decision has yet to be made on their release.

Tonga eases Covid restrictions further

Tonga has further eased the state of emergency put in place after Covid-19 was detected at the beginning of February.

From today all businesses, except nightclubs, will be allowed to open for their normal hours.

Meanwhile, the midnight to 5am curfew remains in force, and primary and elementary schools remain closed

331 new cases in Samoa

The Samoa Ministry of Health's latest report has confirmed 331 new Covid-19 cases - 325 community cases and 6 cases at the border.

This takes the total number of positive cases in Samoa to 12,382.

There are seven patients currently in managed isolation at Moto'otua Hospital.

The Ministry said one new Covid-related death has been identified, taking the total number of deaths to 25.

It said the dead 64-year-old man, who was fully vaccinated, had known co-morbidities.

Oxygen production capability restored in Samoa

Samoa's Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital at Motootua now has a new oxygen generation plant with the commissioning of a 200-cylinder per day capacity unit on Thursday.

The New Zealand-funded plant means the Ministry of Health will no longer be relying on American Samoa for the supply of life-saving oxygen.

Speaking at the commissioning, Minister of Health Valasi Tafito Selesele said Samoa has relied on supplies from American Samoa at the height of the measles pandemic and continuing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Oxygen cylinders on sale at a store as cylinders demand rise up causes of the Covid-19 patients increasing rapidly across the country, in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 5, 2020.

Oxygen tanks Photo: Rehman Asad / NurPhoto / AFP

"As some of you may be aware, since 2019 the Ministry of Health has had to [resort to] the transporting of oxygen cylinders in part to Pago Pago via sea freight for refilling there, due to our greatly reduced capacity," he said.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Dr Trevor Matheson said his country has contributed NZ$665,000 to the procurement, installation, and commissioning of the plant, including maintenance and training.

More PNG rugby league players getting NRL exposure

The PNG Hunters have formed a partnership with the new Dolphins NRL franchise that will include participation in a full NRL pre-season for four young Papua New Guinean players.

The partnership is in alignment with the Hunters' strategic plan to develop more Papua New Guinean players into the NRL competition by 2025.

Under the agreement, four Hunters' players will attend a full pre-season with the Queensland-based Dolphins NRL squad, starting in 2023.

Of those four players, two will be selected by the Dolphins to stay on and train with their NRL squad for the remainder of the season.

Hunters' CEO Scott Barker said it's a huge opportunity to develop the talents of local players to NRL levels.