Pandemic free Kiribati island sees its first 36 positive cases

Report by Sapna Kumari

This is an interesting piece of news on corona. Despite remaining free from Covid-19 during the pandemic period, the sunny island of Kiribati, officially called the Republic of Kiribati, has now been gripped with the corona problem. Guess how? As the island republic in the Central Pacific Ocean reopened its international borders, two-thirds of the passengers who arrived on the first international flight here to Kiribati in over 10 months, have tested positive for the virus. What’s more, Kiribati has imposed a four-day lockdown from Monday after the virus was found to have infiltrated into the community.  

According to sources from Kiribati, all 54 passengers, 36 of whom were diagnosed with Covid after arriving from Fiji last Friday, have now been quarantined and are recovering well.

Lockdown being announced in Kiribati.

Kiribati gets its taste of corona infection

Now, this is how Kiribati got its maiden taste of corona. As soon as the affected passengers were quarantined, sources of Kiribati government said, a security guard at the quarantine center tested positive. This alarmed the authorities at Kiribati. It was also reported that  the security guard and two of his close contacts were also quarantined while his home village was placed under a two-week lockdown.

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A further two positive cases were detected in the community on Thursday. Following this, the government  of the island nation of Kiribati introduced a full two-week curfew. The authorities of Kiribati also took public health measures like mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing and vaccine passes for travel outside of the capital, Tarawa. The population of Kiribati is over 119,000, according to the 2020 census. Most live on Tarawa atoll.

Kiribati residents are quite worried

Kiribati residents are a worried lot nowadays. Rather than coming from the government, the news of corona at Kiribati spread within the community causing them to panic. Kiribati authorities said 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.

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Covid passengers were under two-weeks quarantine, and were doing routine testing. Kiribati’s government declared last month that 93.4% of the population aged 18 and over have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccination.  However, just 53.1% had received their second dose.

(Sapna is student of BA-JMC first year from Maharishi University of Information Technology, Noida)

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