The total number of cases of Covid-19 infection listed by the World Health Organization for the region stands at 382, an increase of 22 since last week.
With increasing evidence that many of the world’s worst-affected nations are either unprepared or unwilling to fight the virus, it’s clear that Pacific islanders will be living with Covid-19 on their borders for years to come. Despite this, countries have been slow to adapt.
Tourism-reliant nations are instead focusing on finding ways to restart the industry as it was before the pandemic. Others simply languish. Despite imminent labour shortages in the agricultural sector in New Zealand and Australia, little progress has been made to safely replace thousands of repatriated workers.
Pacific islanders working in the US appear to be more exposed to Covid-19 than most other ethnicities. A large number of them report at least one family member who is an essential worker, and many of them live and/or work in crowded conditions.
Chronic trade imbalances plaguing Pacific economies are worsened by reduced traffic flows. This is raising prices and exacerbating poverty, especially in the region’s urban centres. A survey conducted by Pacific Trade and Invest reports that just over a quarter of businesses in the region may not survive the economic downturn.
Fiji’s “billionaire bubble” has attracted at least 30 “high-value” individuals from one US company. But the country’s efforts to establish itself as a safe gateway to neighbouring nations in what it calls a Pacific pathway have been received coolly by Samoa’s prime minister.
Please click here to read the full “Coronavirus in the Pacific: weekly briefing” article published at Guardian, written by Griffith Asia Institute, adjunct researcher, Tess Newton Cain and Dan McGarry.