Two thirds of passengers on first flight to Covid-free island test positive

The island of Kiribati had managed to remain Covid-free for the whole lot of the pandemic – however when the primary flight touched down final Friday, two-thirds of the passengers onboard examined optimistic for the virus.

The unbiased island nation within the Pacific Ocean, inhabitants 119,000, reopened its borders on 10 January for the primary time in 10 months.

A Fiji Airways flight from Fiji to the Kiribati capital of South Tarawa on 14 January was the primary plane to land after the reopening.

However on-arrival testing confirmed that 46 of the 54 folks onboard have been contaminated with Covid-19. Authorities say the travellers are properly and in quarantine.

Nonetheless, after a safety guard on the quarantine facility and two members of the general public additionally examined optimistic, Kiribati’s leaders introduced a four-day island-wide lockdown can be in place from Monday, alongside a two-week curfew that was put in place on Tuesday.

Faculties are closed and residents are solely allowed to go away their houses for important groceries and medical help.

All arrivals on the Fiji flight had reportedly been in quarantine for 2 weeks earlier than departure, in addition to being examined earlier than boarding, sparking questions on how they contracted the virus.

Kiribati’s 32 atolls lie roughly midway between Australia and Hawaii, a four-hour flight from Fiji.

Travellers to Kiribati want to indicate proof of double vaccination accomplished at the least 14 days previous to journey, a destructive check outcome from inside the 72 hours earlier than departure, proof that they didn’t have Covid 14 days prior, and “proof that [they] have travelled from a Covid-free nation”. Arrivals should additionally endure 14 days of quarantine at a chosen quarantine centre.

In keeping with a authorities graphic, 93.4 per cent of the islands’ populations have had one dose of the vaccine, however solely 53.1 per cent have had two.

Many distant island teams have been profitable at retaining a “zero Covid” document, however this has normally been achieved by imposing whole journey bans.

Andrew Preston, a professor of microbial pathogenesis on the College of Tub, has stated that such zero-Covid methods are unsustainable.

“The state of affairs beneath which zero Covid had the best credibility was sustaining it whereas very excessive ranges of immunity have been constructed with vaccination,” he instructed CNBC.

“Nonetheless, for many international locations, it has proved very tough to get a degree of vaccination excessive sufficient to stop any unfold of an imported case, and now with the power of omicron to reinfect and infect these vaccinated it seems to be a non-starter as a long-term coverage.”

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