Kiribati, a COVID-19 free island, gets 36 positive cases on its first international flight

The island of Kiribati had been COVID-free throughout the pandemic. They were unable to maintain the status when the first flight landed on the island. Two-third of the passengers tested positive for the virus. Kiribati has reopened its borders after being COVID-19-free during the pandemic. The island nation is now willing to implement a four-day […]

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January 22, 2022

World

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Kiribati, a COVID-19 free island, gets 36 positive cases on its first international flight

The island of Kiribati had been COVID-free throughout the pandemic. They were unable to maintain the status when the first flight landed on the island. Two-third of the passengers tested positive for the virus. Kiribati has reopened its borders after being COVID-19-free during the pandemic. The island nation is now willing to implement a four-day lockdown starting Monday.

On January 10th, the 119,000-strong Pacific island nation reopened its borders. A Fiji Airways aircraft from Fiji to South Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital, was the first plane to land after the reopening. However, on-board tests revealed that COVID-19 has infected 36 of the 54 passengers. Moreover, after a security guard at the quarantine center tested positive on Tuesday, the island nation implemented a two-week curfew. As well as other public health measures such as mask mandate, social isolation and immunization pass for travel outside of Tarawa.

Kiribati

Residents only have permission to leave their residences for necessities like shopping and medical treatment. “As parents, we are worried about our children because unlike us, they are unvaccinated and have no access to one [a vaccine] on the island,” said Kareaua Nawaia, a 32-year-old school teacher and father of three. Others conveyed their displeasure with the delay in enforcing the lockdown. 

Questions have been rising concerning the spread of the virus in the passengers. All were under quarantine two weeks leading up to the journey. And were doing routine testing. The permission to board the plane was given only after the approval of their examinations. Kiribati’s government declared last month that 93.4 percent of the population aged 18 and over have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination. However, just 53.1 percent had received a second dose.

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