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Sun Sep 13, 2020, 11:58 AM

Hundreds of new COVID-19 cases raise fears of uncontrolled outbreaks across the Pacific

A surge of COVID-19 cases in several Pacific states has sparked fears of uncontrolled outbreaks across the region. Hundreds of new cases have emerged in the past month, with many governments relaxing previous measures to control the virus, in order to “open up” their disintegrating economies.

The far-flung islands of the Pacific previously escaped high levels of COVID-19. However, the contributing factors—remoteness, small and scattered populations and the difficulties of travel and transport—have proved to be no defence against a rapidly worsening health and social crisis.

On July 15, French Polynesia re-opened to international visitors, in a desperate bid to resurrect its moribund tourism industry. The first COVID-19 outbreak between March and June, which affected 62 people, had been brought under control with a lockdown and border closures.

Now, with some 3,000 people landing in Tahiti each week, the number of cases has ballooned by 891 since early August to 953. They are mostly in urban areas, but also in Bora Bora, Raiatea, Huahine and Hao.

Read more: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/09/12/paci-s12.html

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