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Prepare dinner Islands confirms first coronavirus case

The Prepare dinner Islands, one of many few locations left on the planet that had not reported any coronavirus infections, detected its first case on Sunday.

Prime Minister Mark Brown mentioned in a briefing Sunday that the person who examined optimistic arrived in Rarotonga, the most important of the Prepare dinner Islands, on Thursday. The individual was examined Sunday after studying {that a} member of the family who was an in depth contact had examined optimistic in New Zealand the day earlier than. The person was asymptomatic and was isolating and below commentary Sunday at non-public vacation lodging, Brown mentioned.

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The distant South Pacific nation had been bracing for a possible spate of infections in current days. Officers introduced Saturday {that a} traveler examined optimistic for the omicron variant upon returning to New Zealand final week after eight days on the islands – though Brown mentioned the case confirmed Sunday was “not linked” to that customer.

The person who was confirmed optimistic Sunday was “touring with two others, and they’re going to all stay in isolation till they not check optimistic for covid-19,” Brown mentioned. Officers didn’t explicitly say whether or not the 2 others had been examined. It was “useful,” Brown added, that the person had been staying in non-public lodging moderately than at a resort or resort.

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The one that examined optimistic is vaccinated, the prime minister mentioned, and had examined adverse earlier than boarding a flight from New Zealand. Officers had begun contact-tracing efforts to trace the individual’s actions since arriving in Rarotonga and to find out potential shut contacts.

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The islands restarted air journey final month after sustaining strict limits for the reason that begin of the pandemic. The Prepare dinner Islands authorities declared on Jan. 13 that the “reopening of borders permits for two-way quarantine-free journey from New Zealand.”

The sandy islands are a self-governing parliamentary democracy however coordinate with New Zealand on worldwide affairs.

“Each step we now have taken has led us to the purpose at this time the place we stay COVID-19 free,” Brown mentioned in a November assertion. He mentioned the closure has taken a psychological and monetary toll and that “retaining our borders closed indefinitely was not a viable possibility.”

It’s “futile” to consider that anywhere can solely keep away from the virus, mentioned David Freedman, president-elect of the American Society of Tropical Medication and Hygiene.

He famous that vacationers to the Prepare dinner Islands should nonetheless undergo New Zealand – which has had a few of the world’s most stringent pandemic restrictions and measures.

“And it nonetheless acquired in,” Freedman mentioned. He added: “You should use measures, you’ll be able to delay, and if there is a new variant that is probably harmful, you will get prepared for the variant . . . [but] you are by no means going to maintain it out.”

As a substitute of journey restrictions, Lin Chen, director of the Journey Medication Middle at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., underlined the significance at this stage of the pandemic of masking, rigorous testing and the continued push for vaccinations and boosters. She added that the confirmed Prepare dinner Islands case reveals “that the pandemic will not be over, and that we have to proceed taking precautions when touring.”

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“If we are able to check rigorously and have plans or insurance policies to have an contaminated individual be quarantined or remoted relying on vaccination standing,” she mentioned, “which may enable us to begin to go towards normalization.”

The federal government has hailed its vaccination charge, with the prime minister calling it a “issue that’s in our favor because it slows the unfold of transmission.” In keeping with the nation’s Well being Ministry, 98 p.c of the inhabitants age 12 and older has obtained at the very least a primary vaccine dose, with 96 p.c having obtained two doses and 67 p.c getting a booster shot.

Till now, the nation of about 17,000 individuals had been one in every of fewer than a dozen areas, international locations, territories or areas with zero reported coronavirus instances, in keeping with the World Well being Group’s coronavirus tracker.

“I perceive that a few of you might really feel frightened or anxious, however please relaxation assured that each one branches of our authorities are working collectively to take care of this example to guard us all,” Brown mentioned throughout his Sunday briefing. “We now have anticipated this virus, we now have ready for it, and we’re able to combat it.”

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