Remote island nation in Pacific under lockdown for first time

Parts of a remote island nation in the Pacific are going under a COVID-19 lockdown for the first time during the pandemic. 

The government of Kiribati announced on Facebook Friday new coronavirus restrictions and a 24-hour lockdown that would go into place due to fears of the coronavirus spreading after dozens of passengers on an international flight to the country last week tested positive for the virus.

Thirty-six out of 54 passengers on a Jan. 14 flight from Fiji to Kiribati were found to have COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated and tested multiple times before leaving Fiji. Passengers were quarantined in Kiribati’s capital upon arrival.

However, on Friday the government said four cases had been detected outside of the quarantine. Three of the cases were security employees at the quarantine facility, but one did not work there.

There is now an assumption that COVID-19 is now spreading in the community on South Tarawa and Betio based on this fourth case. For this reason, the Government has now decided to instigate alert level 3 and the lockdown which will now be effective from 3pm on Saturday 22nd January 2022,” the government said.

The lockdown will have a 24-hour curfew, with individuals only allowed to go out for essential trips, such as to acquire food, or for emergency services. Essential businesses in the private sector, such as businesses that provide food, will only be allowed to be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other restrictions in place include  public transportation closures, public mask requirements and a ban on social gatherings. 

Before this, the country had only had three cases throughout the pandemic due to early measures to restrict travel in 2020 and being in an isolated area, CNN reported.

“During this difficult and challenging situation, the Government appeals to elders, church, island councils, community and youth leaders for their support and cooperation in order to protect and safeguard our health and nation,” the government said.

Tags COVID-19 COVID-19 lockdown covid-19 restrictions Kiribati

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