TESS NEWTON CAIN AND DAN MCGARRY |
Infection figures remain low for the Pacific, but they have more than doubled since last week. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 215 positive cases in the Pacific, excluding Australia and New Zealand. Northern Marianas Islands have reported two more cases “under investigation”. Two people have died there.
A ray of hope: Fiji, French Polynesia and New Caledonia are reported to have only “sporadic cases”. The growth rate of the virus remains quite low after the initial rise. However, if containment efforts should fail, these numbers could rise rapidly.
At a virtual meeting convened on 7 April, the foreign ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum agreed to establish the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway for the Pacific (PHP-C). This comes after the forum invoked the Biketawa Declaration – the mechanism by which regional responses to security issues are initiated by the region’s political leadership. This has been in place since 2000. The PHP-C provides political commitment to the movement of humanitarian and medical assistance to countries affected by Covid-19, particularly where normal transport routes have been impeded by border closures.