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Micronesia's first COVID outbreak sees steep rise in cases

Published on 27/07/22 at 10:30am

Micronesia's first outbreak of COVID-19 has grown in one week to over 1,000 cases, causing significant alarm in the Pacific Island nation.

Last week, Micronesia became the final nation in the world with a population of more than 100,000 to experience an outbreak of COVID-19, after avoiding it for over two years, thanks to geographic isolation, and border controls.

Individuals who flew into the country with the COVID-19 were unable to spread the disease, as all new arrivals were required to quarantine.

Micronesia is an island country consisting of four states spread across the western Pacific, around 2,900km (1,802 miles) north of eastern Australia.

Health officials of the Pacific Island nation have reported that cases are rapidly increasing. 140 new cases were reported on Monday, which brought the total number of cases to 1,261. As of Monday, eight people have been admitted to hospital, and one older man has died, officials shared.

Monday’s figure of total 1,261 positive cases includes some cases caught at the border, prior to the outbreak.

Several top politicians and senior officials have caught the disease, including Vice President Yosiwo George, who has been admitted to hospital. Officials have shared that his condition is improving.

The initial outbreak arrived less than two weeks before Micronesia planned to end its quarantine restrictions and reopen its international borders on 1 August.

Last year, Micronesia became one of the few countries to impose a broad mandate requiring all eligible citizens get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The government threatened to withhold federal funds from any individuals or business owners who refused vaccination. Health officials have shared that 75% of people aged 5 and over were fully vaccinated.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, the Omicron variant has spread the virus to several small nations for the first time this year, including Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru.

Ana Ovey

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