With the exception of a few isolated and quarantined border cases, the federal state of Micronesia survived the Covid pandemic due to its geographical location about 1,600 km north of Papua New Guinea.
But two students from the island of Pohnpei, the capital of Micronesia, tested positive after arriving on the island of Kosrae earlier this week.
Local health officials later confirmed 10 more positive cases out of 11 family members of the students.
According to a government statement on Tuesday, Micronesia is facing a “rapidly evolving situation” and dozens of additional cases have been confirmed in Kosrae and Pohnpei.
The local health authority discouraged public gatherings and advised the wearing of masks, while specifying that “all public services shall remain open”.
Subsequent tests also indicated that 25 out of 28 patients with flu-like symptoms at a hospital in Kosrae tested positive for Covid.
As a result, the Micronesian island of Yap, some 2,250 km west of Pohnpei, announced on Tuesday that passengers and crew of a local ship had been isolated shortly after its arrival.
Following the spread of the coronavirus in Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu are probably the last two Pacific countries to remain unaffected by COVID.
Micronesia plans to lift border health restrictions from August 1, provided visitors complete vaccination and show negative test results.
Announcing these measures last May, Micronesia’s President David Panuelo said he hoped the opening of borders would encourage more than 100,000 residents of the country, which are spread across more than 600 islands, to get vaccinated.
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