Pacific's Micronesia records first Covid-19 case

By: AFP      Published: 01:14 PM, 11 Jan, 2021
Pacific's Micronesia records first Covid-19 case
File photo.

The remote Pacific nation of Micronesia recorded its first case of Covid-19 on Monday, ending its run as one of the few places on Earth without the coronavirus.

President David Panuelo acknowledged the development was "alarming" for the country's 100,000 inhabitants but said the case had been contained at the border.

"For this reason, citizens across the nation should remain calm," he said in a televised address.

"Do not panic because the situation is contained."

Panuelo said the positive test came from a crewman on a government ship "Chief Mailo", which had been in the Philippines undergoing repairs.

He said the man and his colleagues remained on the vessel, which was anchored in a lagoon under round-the-clock surveillance.

"We remain in what we call Covid-condition-four, which means that schools, churches, and businesses of all kinds are still open," he added.

Far-flung Pacific island nations have been among the most successful in the world at keeping out the virus after closing their borders early in response to the threat, despite the huge cost to tourism-reliant economies.

Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, Samoa and now Micronesia have lost their virus-free status, although none have so far reported community transmission.

The island nations and territories of Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu are believed to still be free of the coronavirus.

The cautious approach adopted in the Pacific islands was prompted by fears they are particularly vulnerable because of poor hospital infrastructure and high rates of underlying health conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

Biden to receive second vaccine dose

US President-elect Joe Biden will receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, his office announced, three weeks after his first injection was broadcast live on TV to boost public confidence in the jab.

Biden, 78, told Americans "there's nothing to worry about" when he got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware on December 21.

His team said that his second jab would also be done in front of the media, without giving further details.

More than 374,000 people have died from the coronavirus in America, and Biden on Friday slammed President Donald Trump administration's troubled distribution of vaccines as a "travesty."

About 6.7 million Americans have so far received their first shot -- far short of the target of 20 million by the end of 2020.

But 22.1 million doses have been distributed nationwide, underlining the logistical challenge of getting the injections administered to the elderly and health workers who are the priority.

Both vaccines currently authorized in the US, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, require recipients to receive booster shots after three and four weeks, respectively.

Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, plans to release every available dose of vaccine, rather than holding back half to make sure people receive their booster shots on time as is the current protocol.