Until now, Kiribati has managed to dodge a surge in COVID-19 cases and lockdowns. But now, the country has implemented its first-ever lockdown. By Anushka Goel
On Saturday, the island nation of Kiribati implemented its first-ever lockdown ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This comes days after the government announced that 36 out of 54 passengers on a flight from Fiji tested positive for the virus upon arrival, despite being fully vaccinated and having tested negative thrice during pre-departure quarantine, reports NPR.
Kiribati goes into lockdown
The passengers who tested positive were taken to a quarantine centre, and one of the frontline workers stationed there also tested positive. The government added that there are four people in total who might have caught the virus from community transmission, reports BBC. However, the number of community transmitted cases was confirmed to three by the government later in a Facebook post.
Under the lockdown, people have been asked to stay at home unless there’s an emergency. Those stepping out can only do so to access essentials and emergency services such as hospitals, police stations, grocery stores and banks. Shops selling essential goods can be accessed between 6:00 am and 2:00 pm. Social gatherings, too, are banned, reports BBC.
Kiribati is one of the most isolated islands in the world, located about 1,800 kilometres from its nearest continent, Australia, reports BBC. It is interesting to note that before this surge in cases, Kiribati had reported just two COVID-19 cases in total. This happened in May 2021, when two people tested positive upon a fishing ship and had isolated on board, reports NPR.
What’s more, Kiribati’s neighbour, Samoa, also went into lockdown around the same time as the country, due to a surge in cases. The government announced a 48-hour lockdown after 15 out of 73 passengers onboard a flight from Brisbane, Australia, tested positive upon arrival. The lockdown has been increased since then, to keep a check on the virus.