30 Jun 2022

Pacific News in Brief for June 30

10:00 pm on 30 June 2022

Covid-19 cases on Nauru now over 3000

The number of active cases in Nauru has surpassed three thousand - almost a third of the population.

With 381 new cases, there are now 3,161 active cases.

There are 11 people in the hospital's Acute Care Unit.

Altogether there are now 362 houses in lockdown.

The government is delivering cartons of water, noodles and eggs to these houses.

French Polynesia detects new Covid-19 variants

French Polynesia has recorded cases of the new Covid-19 variants BA 4 or 5 amongst non-residents.

The first case was discovered two weeks ago, and another two cases were discovered last week, however, the total number of cases over the territory is still unknown.

Local Covid-19 health expert Henri Pierre Mallet told La Premiere that this new variant might mean a return to a similar situation to previous outbreaks.

"It's more contagious, that's why we are having such an increase.

From what we know, it isn't as dangerous as previous variants, however, it can still kill the non-vaccinated population. We will therefore be in the same situation as last time," he said.

Just at the start of the month of June 132 new cases of Covid-19 variants BA 2 among 114 travellers and 18 locals were detected.

The French Polynesian government is urging residents to get their 4th anti-Covid-19 vaccine.

Pfizer is recommended for 12 and above and 18 and over are recommended Novavax.

Australia to set up defence school to train Pacific island militaries

Australia will set up a defence school to train Pacific island militaries amid mounting competition for security ties in the region and as China lays plans for a rival meeting to next month's Pacific Islands Forum.

Canberra's new Minister for International Development and Pacific, Pat Conroy, said Australia will double its funding for aerial surveillance of the Pacific islands vast fishing zone.

Speaking to a conference in Fiji via video, Conroy said Australia will provide financing for Pacific islands to build more resilient infrastructure as the rate of sea level rise in the Pacific is forecast to be four times the global average.

Conroy outlined the new Australian government's commitments to support the Pacific region, including an Australia Pacific Defence School providing training for defence and security forces.

The pledge, first made at the Australia election - to double funding for aerial surveillance of the Pacific exclusive economic zones would increase maritime security and recoup US$150 million lost each year to illegal fishing, he said.

Charges against police officer in Samoa dropped

In Samoa, a suspended female police officer facing six charges of obtaining by deception has been cleared in the District Court after the prosecution filed to drop charges for lack of evidence.

The Samoa Observer reports lawyer Afamasaga Michael So'onalole confirmed his client Sialele Mala Fuatai Ueli had the charges withdrawn in court last week.

He said Police initially dropped three charges and later asked the court for the remaining charges to be dropped too.

The 47-year-old officer was charged in January.

Afamasaga said he will be filing a report with the police to reinstate his client and back-pay her from the period of her suspension.

Samoa govt close to ending Boeing 737-800 aircraft contract

The Samoa government will pay 16 million tālā as part of the negotiations with a European company to terminate the lease of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft taken out by the national carrier Samoa Airways.

Samoa Airways Boeing 727-800 aircraft

Photo: Supplied

Minister of Public Enterprises Leatinu'u Wayne So'oialo has told Parliament that negotiations with Fly Aircraft Holdings Eighteen Limited are close to ending and estimated that 90 percent of public funds will be saved from returning the aircraft.

He said it was originally predicted that 160 million tālā would be lost by cancelling the lease.

Leatinu'u said the government hopes to restructure the national airline to ensure it makes a profit, instead of accumulating debts that will place a further burden on the country.

Nightclub says sorry to woman with Melanesian tattoos

A Brisbane nightclub has apologised to a woman it refused entry to for her traditional Papua New Guinean facial tattoos - but insisted she still won't be allowed in.

Moale James was celebrating her partner's birthday with friends in the city at the weekend when she was barred from the club, Hey Chica! for the tattoos, known as reva reva.

Ms James called out the club on social media.

Hey Chica! apologised to Ms James, but said it would continue to enforce a blanket ban on face and neck tattoos.

Queensland liquor laws require venues to take act to remove or exclude people wearing items linked to criminal organisations.

Ms James said Hey Chica!'s policy was discriminatory.