Pacific islands continue to grapple with COVID-19

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 5, 2021
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SYDNEY, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 pandemic, which has ebbed and flowed in Pacific countries for more than 18 months, continues to rapidly evolve throughout much of the region with current outbreaks being more severe than previous ones.

Health authorities in countries and territories such as Papua New Guinea (PNG), New Caledonia and Fiji generally share similar logistical problems such as limited medical supplies and specialized facilities.

PNG reported 333 new cases on Monday, bringing its overall active cases to 2,499 which are mainly in the Eastern Highlands Province. There have been 234 related deaths since the pandemic started.

The crisis is pushing the already stretched medical system to the brink, according to the nation's leading newspaper, the PNG Post-Courier. It reported on Monday that the Port Moresby General Hospital in the capital city only had five ventilators, all of which are now being used for critically ill patients. Meanwhile, other hospitals lack essential facilities such as isolation wards for such highly infectious patients.

A doctor noted that all the Port Moresby hospital cases were unvaccinated, a dilemma likely shared with many other hard-pressed medicos throughout the Pacific.

New Caledonia, for example, is likewise desperately fighting to accelerate its vaccine rollout program with its congress having unanimously voted last month for the compulsory vaccinations of all its adult citizens.

By the end of August, about 32 percent of eligible New Caledonians have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The chain of islands, with a population of more than 288,000, had not had any COVID-19 related deaths before September. But the situation has rapidly deteriorated in the past four weeks following the first three cases of the Delta variant of the virus being reported on Sept. 6 and the first related death just three days later.

According to the latest figure released on Tuesday, New Caledonia has recorded 364 new cases and a total of 8,506 cases since Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, Fiji has been battling its own outbreak since early April. On Monday, there were 22 new confirmed cases and one new fatality. Enditem

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