One Less COVID Free Island

February 5, 2021

COVID-19 is a worldwide virus that has affected people all over the globe, and unfortunately, COVID-19 is beginning to make its way to the last few covid free islands. 

Vanuatu, a Pacific Island nation 1,200 miles outside of Australia was able to make it nearly a year without receiving any positive COVID-19 cases. Lana Elliot, an expert on public health in the Pacific at the Queensland University of Technology stated, “The first case of Vanuatu should likely be contained. Not having a Covid-19 case until now has brought the country of 300,000 people some crucial time and they are highly alert.” 

With the news that the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu has received their first positive case, the total of places that are COVID-19 free has been cut down to nine. 

Although places such as North Korea and Turkmenistan have reportedly claimed to not have any positive cases of COVID, experts have determined that the virus likely does exist there. The only places that are definitely 100% covid free are Pacific island nations of Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa. 

Many of these small islands decided to shut down their borders early in the COVID-19 outbreak to prevent people from coming in and out of their country, but as positive cases have surpassed 50 million, the virus is beginning to find its way to creep in. 

Colin Tukuitonga, associate dean at the University of Auckland medical school and the former chief executive of New Zealand’s Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs said, “A handful of cases on a small island is going to overwhelm the health system; these are very small and not well funded health systems. They often lack critical equipment and critical skills.” 

With the fact these small islands were able to shut down their borders at the start of the outbreak to keep people from coming in and out of their country, they have had time to prepare and plan ways to prevent the virus from spreading throughout their populations.

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