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Interesting Article on Keeping Covid-19 out of Pacific islands

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According to the vendor of one of my canceled excursions (because Princess canceled our October French Polynesia cruise) in Bora Bora, there are no cases there and 'only' 60 in Tahiti.  This story (Many Pacific islands are untouched by COVID-19. Its arrival could be disastrous) concentrates more on Samoa and Papua New Guinea but is applicable, I would think, to all the Pacific islands.

 

This is from the PBS Newshour yesterday:  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/many-pacific-islands-are-untouched-by-covid-19-its-arrival-could-be-disastrous

Edited by capriccio
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Thanks for posting this interesting article. Here is a related article from Tahiti

https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Epargnees-par-le-virus-les-iles-du-Pacifique-redoutent-de-rouvrir-aux-touristes_a190946.html

 

It will be interesting to see how these Pacific Islands open up again. Will they restrict tourism to visitors from countries with low infection rates like Australia & New Zealand? Americans and Europeans might be the last groups welcomed back, based on their high infection rates.

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22 minutes ago, Mercruiser said:

Thanks for posting this interesting article. Here is a related article from Tahiti

https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Epargnees-par-le-virus-les-iles-du-Pacifique-redoutent-de-rouvrir-aux-touristes_a190946.html

 

It will be interesting to see how these Pacific Islands open up again. Will they restrict tourism to visitors from countries with low infection rates like Australia & New Zealand? Americans and Europeans might be the last groups welcomed back, based on their high infection rates.

 

That was a an interesting article.  Thank you!  I would not be surprised if foreign tourism is cancelled until there is a vaccine because even limiting them to Australians and New Zealanders could be risky.  But on the other hand how long can many of these island economies exist with tourism?  It is a serious conundrum and challenge.

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In case you do not speak French.

 

Suva, Fiji AFP Friday 07/05/2020 - By closing their borders, the South Pacific Nations have managed to avoid the coronavirus outbreak, but their economies are ashore. Hence a choice: should we continue to barricade ourselves, or bring back tourists, with the health threat they represent?

 

Governments around the world are considering deconfining and lifting catastrophic restrictions on jobs and growth.

 

But it is probably in the South Pacific that the debate between health imperatives and economic necessities is the most complicated.

 

Most of these archipelagos have prevented the spread of a virus that would have instantly sunk their hospital capacity. 

 

A dozen island nations did not register any cases of Covid-19 because they closed their borders to avoid the importation of coronavirus. Fiji is an exception with 18 contaminations. But the Fijian authorities are hopeful that the epidemic will be contained.

 

The economic impact has been catastrophic for all these countries, which are highly dependent on tourism. For some, tourism revenues account for 50% of GDP.

 

"Zero Income"

 

From the beginning of the crisis, the planes were grounded. Without tourists, the hotel industry plunged.

 

"When Australia closed its borders to international travellers, it took only three days for our hotel's revenues to fall to zero," Elizabeth Pechan, co-owner of The Havannah in Vanuatu, explained in a post.

 

Some media report that in Vanuatu, 70% of jobs related to the tourism sector alone have disappeared.

 

And poor Pacific countries have no common central bank that could unlock regional aid plans.

 

Some have suggested the idea of including these islands in the "bubble" to which Australians and New Zealanders are thinking, a common area in which nationals of both countries would have no quarantine to observe as they cross the Tasman Sea. But there is no consensus on this idea.

 

"There is a huge risk if the Covid-19 can reach the Pacific island nations that are not currently affected," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after a meeting with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

 

"We believe that small pockets like ours, currently unaffected by the virus, could work with other countries in the region in the same situation, taking maximum precautions," argues the head of the Cook Islands tourist board, Halatoa Fua.

 

"Anxiety"

 

Many islanders suffer from diabetes or heart problems, which would make them particularly vulnerable to infection.

 

In the absence of direct air links with Australia or New Zealand, Palau Tourism Minister F. Umiich Sengebau felt that it would make more sense for his archipelago to create a bubble with Taiwan. Palau is one of the few countries in the world that still recognizes Taiwan.

 

"This is an ingenious idea that we need to consider with a country like Taiwan, which has done a very good job in managing the Covid-19 epidemic," he said.

 

"It would be mutually interesting because tourists from Taiwan want to go to Palau on holiday and the Palaians go to Taiwan for medical treatment and tourism."

 

But in many Pacific islands, the issue is far from a priority.

 

"For now, the priority of the Solomon Government is to finalize preparation for the epidemic, including testing, and to facilitate the repatriation of citizens to the region," said a spokesman for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

 

Total eradication of the disease in Australia, New Zealand or Taiwan is unlikely, so the ability to test, trace contacts and isolate patients everywhere will be critical.

 

In a sign of the magnitude of the task, Marshall Islands Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal said it was premature to discuss the introduction of a bubble.

 

"Just saying 'maybe' could create a growing anxiety that no one needs," he says.

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