COVID-19 pandemic in Oceania

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Oceania on 25 January 2020 with the first confirmed case reported in Melbourne, Australia.[2] It has since spread elsewhere in the region,[3] although many small Pacific island nations have thus far avoided the outbreak by closing their international borders. As of 26 May 2020, ten Oceania sovereign states have yet to report a case: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated State of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

COVID-19 pandemic in Oceania
COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in Oceania.svg
Map of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oceania
  10,000+ Confirmed cases
  1000-9999 Confirmed cases
  100-999 Confirmed cases
  10–99 Confirmed cases
  1–9 Confirmed cases
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationOceania
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Arrival date25 January 2020
(4 months and 1 day ago)
Confirmed cases8,657[1]
Recovered7,925[1]
Territories
6[1]

Pandemic by countryEdit

Summary table of confirmed cases in Oceania (as of 26 May 2020).
Location Cases Deaths Recoveries Ref.
  Australia 7,133 102 6,553 [4]
  New Zealand 1,504 21 1,461 [5]
    French Polynesia 60 0 60 [6]
  Fiji 18 0 15 [7]
  New Caledonia 18 0 18 [8]
  Papua New Guinea 8 0 8 [9]
Total 8,663 120 7,922

AustraliaEdit

 
Map of the outbreak in Australia

On 25 January, the first case of a SARS-CoV-2 infection was reported, that of a Chinese citizen who arrived from Guangzhou on 19 January. The patient received treatment in Melbourne.[2][10] On the same day, three other patients tested positive in Sydney after returning from Wuhan.[11][12][13]

On 1 March, a 78-year-old man from Western Australia, who had been a passenger on the Diamond Princess, became the first person to die from coronavirus in Australia. He died in a hospital in Perth.[14][15][16]

As of 26 May 2020, Australia has reported a total of 7,133 cases, 6,553 recoveries and 102 deaths.[4]

ChileEdit

Easter IslandEdit

On 19 March, the local government of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) ordered a lockdown of the island and requested LATAM Airlines to evacuate all tourists on the island.[17] However, on 24 March, the first case of coronavirus was reported on the island.[18]

FijiEdit

As of 24 May, there are 18 confirmed cases in Fiji, of which 15 have already recovered.

FranceEdit

French PolynesiaEdit

On 11 March, the first case in French Polynesia was confirmed. The first patient was Maina Sage, a member of the French National Assembly.[19] There were 39 confirmed cases on 4 April. A ban on sales of alcohol was extended until the crisis is over.[20]

As of 5 May 2020, 60 cases and 54 recoveries had been reported in French Polynesia.[6]

New CaledoniaEdit

As of 25 March, there have been fourteen cases in New Caledonia.[21] President Thierry Santa went into self-isolation on 4 April after a member of his staff tested positive.[22] On 7 May, all 18 cases recovered.[8]

New ZealandEdit

 
Map of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand by District Health Board (DHB)

As of 26 May, New Zealand has reported 1,504 confirmed and probable cases.[23] The first case, confirmed on 28 February, was in a citizen who had arrived from Iran on 26 February.[24] The second case was in a citizen who had recently traveled to northern Italy.[25] The first local transmission of the virus happened on 4 March, located in Auckland.[26] On 29 March, New Zealand reported its first fatality, a woman in her 70s from the West Coast region.[27][28] On 11 April, the country confirmed its second death, a woman in her 90s from a Christchurch rest home.[29] As of 26 May, 1,461 people have recovered and 21 people have died.[23]

As many as 100,000 travellers will now be allowed to go home as travel restrictions imposed on 26 March are relaxed.[30] As of 5 April, no cases have been reported in the associated states of Cook Islands and Niue and the dependent territories of Tokelau and the Ross Dependency[citation needed] (see below).

In April 2020, New Zealand became one of the few countries to successfully manage the coronavirus pandemic, with only five new cases reported in a day. As of April 27, the country had recorded fewer than 1,500 COVID-19 cases and only 19 deaths. However, the officials stated that it didn’t mean complete eradication of the virus, and warned against complacency. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country was set to ease the severe coronavirus lockdown, as they tackled the pandemic by adopting a “go hard and go early” approach. She stated that the government was only reopening the economy, while the social distancing restrictions were still applied.[31][32] On May 4, the country marked the first day without the reports of any new case of COVID-19, a month after the country announced lockdown.[33] On May 5, the country recorded no new cases of coronavirus for the second day in a row.[34] However, Ardern warned that it would take “a long time” to reopen the country’s borders for international travelers, at least until 2021.[35]

Papua New GuineaEdit

On 20 March, the first case in Papua New Guinea was confirmed.[36]

Swabs were taken and sent to the Medical Research Institute in Goroka for testing. Three announcements followed. First the Health Minister Jelta Wong declared a probable case, and Prime Minister James Marape followed up by declaring the result as negative.[37][38] Further tests were conducted and the prime minister confirmed the positive result for COVID-19.[39] Police Minister Bryan Kramer then stated on Facebook that the inconsistent results were due to faulty test equipment, and that requests had been made for further testing to be conducted in Melbourne.[40]

United StatesEdit

GuamEdit

As of 8 May, the US territory of Guam has had 151 confirmed cases of the virus, 122 recoveries, and five deaths.[41]

HawaiiEdit

As of 19 March, there have been 22 confirmed cases in the state of Hawaii.[42]

Northern Mariana IslandsEdit

As of 30 April, the islands confirmed 14 coronavirus cases and two deaths.[43]

Prevention in other countries and territoriesEdit

AustraliaEdit

Norfolk IslandEdit

As of 3 April, Norfolk Island has not had any cases. As a precautionary measure the government has imposed a 32-day travel ban and declared a state of emergency.[44] Administrator Eric Hutchinson stated that the measures were necessary due to the remote island's extremely limited health capacity.[44] Lockdown measures began to be lifted from 6 May.[45]

FranceEdit

Wallis and FutunaEdit

As of 6 May, the territory has remained corona free.[46] On 4 March, Wallis and Futuna turned away a cruise ship over fears of infection; the possibility of denying entry to another ship by the end of the month is also under consideration.[47] Incoming flights have also been curtailed, save for those delivering essential supplies.[48] On 23 April, the island began repatriating its 300 inhabitants stranded on New Caledonia.[49]

KiribatiEdit

On 1 February, the government of Kiribati put all visas from China on hold and required new arrivals to fill in a health form and travellers from countries with the coronavirus to go through a self-quarantine period.[50] Despite not having any case, on 28 March President Taneti Maamau declared a state of emergency.[51]

Marshall IslandsEdit

On 24 January, the Republic of the Marshall Islands issued a travel advisory that requires any visitors to the country to have spent at least 14 days in a country free of the virus.[52] On 1 March, the ban was extended to China, Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.[53]

As of 18 March, all incoming international travel has been temporarily suspended, as well as some intra-island flight services.[54]

MicronesiaEdit

By 3 February, David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, had signed a declaration banning Micronesian citizens from travelling to China and other affected countries.[55]

By 5 March, Micronesia had introduced a strict travel ban, banning anyone who had been in China anytime since January 2020 — or had been in any other affected country in the last 14 days — from entering Micronesia.[56] As of 18 March, all schools in the country have also been closed.[54]

NauruEdit

As of 3 April, there have been no cases. The government has, however, declared a national emergency as a preventive measure, suspending all but one weekly flight to the country and instituting a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals.[57]

New Zealand Associated CountriesEdit

Cook IslandsEdit

As of 28 March, the Cook Islands have not had any cases. As a precautionary measure, fights from destinations other than New Zealand have been cancelled,[58] and non-essential surgeries cancelled.[59][60] On 26 March, Prime Minister Henry Puna announced that 'Code Yellow' measures would be in place in the islands, by which public gatherings are restricted.[61]

NiueEdit

As of 3 April 2020, there have been no cases in Niue. As a precautionary measure, the government has banned visitors from highly affected countries.[60]

TokelauEdit

As of 3 April 2020, there have been no cases in Tokelau. As a precautionary measure, boats arriving from affected countries have been banned from landing.[60] On 19 March, all incoming travel was suspended, except for Tokelauans.[62]

PalauEdit

The President of Palau Thomas Remengesau Jr. issued an executive order suspending all charter flights from China, Macau, and Hong Kong from 1–29 February.[63] Schools will be also be shut starting in April.[60] Remengesau suspended travel to Palau.[64]

SamoaEdit

Travel into Samoa has been increasingly restricted in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the country. Before entering the country, people must have spent at least 14 days in a country free of the virus, as well as complete a medical clearance.[65] Two Samoan nationals who had briefly stopped in China were placed into quarantine on 28 January for two weeks at the Faleolo District Hospital.[needs update][66][67] Three students and a former student were evacuated[when?] with assistance from New Zealand.[68] On 9 February, eight Samoan nationals travelling from India were denied entry into the country after catching a connecting flight in Singapore.[69]

On 22 February, Samoa banned all cruise ships from visiting the country.[70] On 29 February, the government announced restrictions on air travel, with the frequency of international flights into Samoa being reduced from 2 March.[71]

On 18 March, Samoa reported its first suspected case of the coronavirus, an individual who had traveled from New Zealand. Bodily samples from the person were taken to Melbourne for testing.[72][73] In response, the Samoan Government required all travelers including Samoan citizens to undergo a medical checkup upon returning.[74] On 20 March, Samoa declared a state of emergency, closing its borders to all but returning citizens.[75]

On 21 March, the Samoan Health Ministry confirmed that eight suspected cases of the coronavirus were being tested. All of these individuals had a prior history of travel or contact with relatives who traveled abroad.[76][77] On 22 March, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced that the first suspected case of COVID-19 had been cleared of the virus. While he confirmed that six of the eight suspected cases had tested negative for the coronavirus, they were still awaiting test results for the remaining two patients from New Zealand.[78] That same day, Samoa also suspended air travel with Australia and restricted flights from New Zealand.[79]

On 24 March, it was reported that a total of seven suspected cases of the coronavirus were awaiting testing in New Zealand.[80]

On 25 March, Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi announced that individuals that didn't adhere to the COVID-19 restriction will be fined.[81] On 26 March, the Samoan Government introduced lockdown measures including banning fishing boats from entering Samoa and fining businesses that breached the quarantine. Only cargo ships carrying goods and petrol will be allowed to enter Samoa.[82]

On 11 April, the Samoan Government passed a US$23.6 million relief package to help the country's hotel sector, which had been forced to lay-off 500 hotel workers by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.[83] On 15 April, the Samoan Government eased some state of emergency restrictions including reopening inter-islander maritime travel and public transportation with restrictions on operating hours and passengers. Restaurants and markets were allowed to reopen with limited hours. However, social distancing rules and other emergency restrictions remained in force.[84]

On 20 April, Radio New Zealand reported that nearly 300 had been arrested in Samoa for violating the "Covid-19 State of Emergency Orders", which came into force on 21 March.[85] On 14 May, Samoan Prime Minister Malielegaoi ruled out the New Zealand Government's proposal for a "Pacific travel bubble" due to the unwillingness of Canberra and Wellington to test travelers and fears of a resurgence of the 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa.[86][87]

Solomon IslandsEdit

As of 3 April, there have been no cases. As a precautionary measure the government has stepped up checks on incoming visitors, and introduced restrictions on visitors who have visited countries deemed high risk.[88] On 27 March Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare suspended all flights into the country, and declared a precautionary state of emergency in Honiara, by which most entertainment venues would be closed (churches are exempt from the order).[89]

On 31 March, Franco Rodie, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, ordered the closure of all schools in the Solomon Islands.[90]

TongaEdit

As of 22 May 2020, there have been no cases in the country. As a precautionary measure, various travel and quarantining restrictions have been put in place.[57] Cruise ships and yachts have also been banned from docking in the country.[91] On 27 March Prime Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa announced that the country would be under a lock-down 29 March – 5 April.[92]

TuvaluEdit

As of 3 April 2020, there have been no cases in the country. As a precautionary measure, visitors will not be allowed to land without first undergoing 14 days of isolation in a third party state.[60] Circa 26 March the acting governor general declared a state of emergency.[93]

United KingdomEdit

Pitcairn IslandsEdit

As of 3 April, there have been no cases in the British territory. As a precautionary measure, all passenger services to the islands have been suspended.[94]

United StatesEdit

American SamoaEdit

On 6 March, the American Samoan government introduced new entry restrictions including restricting flight numbers and requiring travelers from Hawaii to spend 14 days in Hawaii and obtain a health clearance from health authorities.[95] On 11 March, a government task-force was set up to deal with the virus and quarantining measures have been put in place for incoming visitors.[96] On 14 March, half of the 210 passengers on a returning Hawaiian Airlines flight were required to self-quarantine at home.[97] Following a trip to the US mainland, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga self-isolated as a precautionary measure on 16 March.[98]

On 26 March, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, executive assistant to the American Samoa Governor and the head of the territory's coronavirus task force, acknowledged that the territory did not have facilities to test samples of the COVID-19 virus, having to rely on testing facilities in Atlanta, Georgia.[99]

On 19 April, United States President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster existed in American Samoa, responding to a request for help from Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga on 13 April. This declaration makes the territory eligible for federal assistance to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has named its Regional 9 administrator Robert Fenton Junior as the Coordinating Officer for any federal recovery operations in American Samoa.[100]

As of 6 May, the US territory has not had any cases.[101]

VanuatuEdit

As of 3 April 2020, there have been no cases in the country. Travel restrictions and quarantine measures have been put in place for those entering the country.[88] On 22 March, Vanuatu's health authorities confirmed that tests for a resort worker with a suspected case of coronavirus had returned negative.[102] On 26 March President Tallis Obed Moses declared a state of emergency in the country.[103] A tourist on a cruise ship visiting the island of Aneityum had tested positive for the virus, prompting a lockdown on the island.[103]

On 25 April, Vanuatu announced that it would be scheduling their Women's Super League cricket final on Saturday and streaming it live on social media.[104]

StatisticsEdit

Total confirmed casesEdit

Total confirmed cases by countryEdit

Daily cases for the most infected Oceania countries:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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