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Further COVID-19 restrictions and cases in Pacific

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero
Source: RNZ Pacific

PACIFIC ISLANDS — More travel restrictions and measures have been imposed around the Pacific as cases in the region continue to increase.

People in French Polynesia have been told to stay at home from midnight for at least 15 days as the coronavirus outbreak keeps spreading.

At a briefing this morning, the French High Commissioner and the president said there were now 15 cases of the virus, four more than yesterday.

The new regulations ban meetings and close businesses.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations would however stay open while restaurants were allowed to sell takeaways.

Banking services would continue to be available.

Full details of the new restrictions will be rolled out in the course of the day.

Interisland travel had already been restricted and from Sunday night domestic flights will be suspended.

Non-residents have also been barred from entry.

International flights have been reduced, with Air Tahiti Nui providing the sole link to Paris.

Residents on the of Rangiroa had already been asked to stay in their homes amid fears the coronavirus has been brought in by students returning from Tahiti.

Guam has two more cases

The Governor of Guam announced that two more people have tested positive for Covid-19 there.

Lou Leon Guerrero said on Friday 19 people in the US territory were tested for the coronavirus with all but two testing negative.

She said a total of 100 tests had been performed now with 14 cases being confirmed.

All 14 cases remain in isolation.

There now are 34 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Pacific countries and territories, with another 37 in the US state of Hawai'i.

Tuvalu declares State of Emergency

The Acting Governor General in Tuvalu has declared a State of Emergency for the atolls in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State of Emergency will last at least 14 days.

As part of the declaration public gatherings will be restricted to no more than 10 people.

Nauru, Tonga and Samoa recently made similar declarations this week.

New Caledonia flights stopped

New Caledonia's international carrier Aircalin has been ordered to halt all flights to the territory amid concern over a deepening crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The government ordered the suspension because the ability to quarantine arriving passengers had reached its limits.

Hundreds of people arriving this week were confined to hotels in a bid to halt the propagation of the virus.

Two travellers with coronavirus arrived on Wednesday, prompting the closure of schools and forcing most public establishments, such as restaurants and bars, to cease operations.

Aircalin was expected to wind down services over the weekend but the government ordered an immediate halt.

The government said exceptions would be granted for emergency flights.

It also asked Aircalin to help with plans to repatriate residents still outside New Caledonia.

CNMI implements curfew

Even as two samples of suspected Covid-19 cases came back negative, the Northern Marianas is continuing to safeguard against a potential outbreak of the coronavirus by instituting a curfew on minors.

Governor Ralph Torres directed the Department of Public Safety and CNMI law enforcement officers to strictly enforce curfew laws for minors throughout Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

This means all people under the age of 18 must remain indoors from 7pm until 6am.

The only exceptions included minors who were accompanied by their parent, guardian, or an adult, who were travelling home or who were lawfully employed during the hours specified.

Anyone who violated the directive could be imprisoned for a period of up to 30 days or be sentenced to up to 250 hours of community service.

On Friday night two specimens submitted to the Guam Public Health Lab were confirmed negative for Covid-19.

The CNMI remains free of Covid-19.

Cook Islanders to receive power discounts

Power company Te Aponga Uira is providing free electricity to consumers in the Cook Islands due to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Cook Islands News reports the company's package of assistance will see a reduction of electricity costs by 100 percent for domestic users, and by 60 percent for businesses in Rarotonga, effective from the first metre reading from yesterday until June.

The discounts are also being extended to the island of Aitutaki.

Te Aponga says they hope the discounts would help businesses keep people employed, and helps households weather these difficult times.