Pacific nation of Micronesia detects first Covid case

Sydney, Australia, Jan 11 (efe-epa).- The Federated States of Micronesia, a remote Pacific nation, confirmed on Monday that it has detected its first Covid-19 case after dodging the pandemic in 2020.

In a televised speech posted on social media, Micronesia’s president, David Panuelo, asked the country’s 111,000 inhabitants to “remain calm” and added that the “situation is contained.”

“We remain in what we call Covid Condition 4, which means that schools, churches and businesses of all kinds are still open. Wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing is encouraged, but not mandatory,” he said.

The president of the country, made up of four island states – Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap – said that the first infected person is a sailor aboard a government ship that had returned from the Philippines after spending more than one year there for drydock repairs.

The infected, who is asymptomatic, along with the 11 other crew members, remain confined to the ship, anchored off the coast of Pohnpei, and are being monitored by health authorities.

“In the event that Covid-19 ever reaches our shores and our communities, the national government will enforce a Social Distancing Decree for the affected state,” said the president, pointing out that Pohnpei is currently facing a shortage of health personnel.

The country, a signatory to the Free Association Agreement with the United States, has already received 9,800 doses of the vaccine produced by the American pharmaceutical company Moderna and began its vaccination campaign on Dec. 31 with the inoculation of the president himself.

A handful of small and remote Pacific Island countries that have managed to avoid the virus include the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Nauru, Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu, according to data from the World Health Organization.

The success of these nations, which have poor health infrastructure, is due to their remote geographical locations and the tightening of border controls, which has made repatriation of its citizens difficult. EFE-EPA


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