26 Jan 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific 26 January

3:20 pm on 26 January 2021

Covid-19 claims another life in Tahiti, concerns in PNG of low rates of Covid-19 testing, and Samoa 7s teams trim squads ahead of Olympic qualifiers and more.

An ambulance enters the Taaone hospital in Papeete, the French overseas territory of Polynesia. (2014)

Photo: AFP

Covid-19 claims another life in Tahiti

The Covd-19 death toll in French Polynesia now stands at 129 after another person died over the weekend.

20 coronavirus sufferers are in hospital, including 11 in intensive care.

60 new infections were detected in the past three days, confirming that the second wave of the pandemic has peaked.

Just under 1,200 people have received the first jab of the Pfizer vaccine since the inoculation programme began last week.

All but 62 of the almost 18,000 cases were detected after the borders were reopened in July and mandatory quarantine requirements were abolished in an effort to boost tourism.

Concerns in PNG at low rates of Covid-19 testing.

The head of PNG's Covid-19 National Pandemic Response, David Manning, is concerned that the testing rates for Covid-19 in the country has been critically low lately.

The country's Covid-19 cases have reached 850 with nine known deaths.

"We can only find out the extent of the outbreak in the country if we proactively test people," he said.

He said there must be a proactive approach in testing and screening of citizens for Covid-19.

Sixteen provinces including the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have Covid-19 cases.

Samoa 7s teams trim squads ahead of Olympic qualifiers

Samoa's rugby sevens teams are not letting the global pandemic affect their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.

Men's coach Muliagatele Brian Lima has included 13 news caps in his final 24 man training squad, following the end of the Samoa National Sevens Series, while women's coach Auimatagi Sapani Pomare has selected 18 players.

The Manu Samoa and Manu Sina 7s are scheduled to contest the Final Olympic Qualification Tournament in Monaco in June, with the winning teams advancing to the Summer Games, which were postponed by 12 months because of Covid-19.

The global sevens calendar remains in flux with global borders and international travel shut down as a result of the global pandemic, although Samoa and Fiji are among countries who have been able to continue holding domestic competitions.

Two Native Hawaiians face hate crimes charges

Two Native Hawaiian men have been charged with the US state's first case of hate crimes in 20 years.

The charges relate to the brutal beating of a non-Hawaiian man in 2014, reports the Honolulu Civil Beat.

Previous assault charges by state police ended in a plea bargain in 2019 but last week the men faced the FBI's upgraded hate crimes charges and pleaded not guilty.

They face a potential 10 year prison term with Hawai'i having enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual identity and other biases.

The case is ongoing.