Photo Credit: Aerial view of Bora Bora island, French Polynesia
Marshall Islands Face First COVID-19 Outbreak
Covid-19 infection numbers have recently surged in the Marshall Islands, days after the first detected local spread of the virus.
In the capital city of Majuro, total cases have nearly doubled since Friday. Reportedly, approximately 75% of the islands’ rests were returning as positive. Previous stringent COVID-19 restrictions meant that several Pacific islands were able to keep COVID-19 at bay.
On Monday, the first local spread was confirmed. The government declared a “state of health disaster”, closing schools and introducing a variety of public health measures.
Until October 2020, the islands were considered to be the last in the world to be touched by the virus. The first case was brought in by a U.S. couple who tested positive and were isolated from the rest of the island.
Marshall Islands COVID response
Marshall Islands, is located roughly 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii and 3,000 miles east of the Philippines.
Currently, more than 3,000 people have tested positive, with more than 1,000 testing positive in the 24 hours to Saturday alone.
In a Facebook post, Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal stated that Marshall Islands must shift from a “prevention to mitigation” strategy. “Much of the chaos is beginning to die down” he said, promising that “this will continue to get better.”
Extra help will arrive from overseas including from the U.S., he added. The extra help will amount to extra “boots on the ground” which is expected over the coming week.
No lockdown has been ordered, but Radio New Zealand (RNZ) shares that many have chosen to stay at home, with church services canceled and restaurants appearing quiet.