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In brief: News from around the Pacific

Thursday 14 October 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


In brief: News from around the Pacific
Photo: RNZ Pacific/Christine Rovoi

Nearly 300 Ni-Vanautu workers arrive in New Zealand; A dozen cyclones forecast for Pacific; 391 new cases of Covid-19 in the past seven days in Fiji.

Nearly 300 Ni-Vanautu workers arrive in New Zealand

A total of 290 seasonal workers from Ni-Vanuatu have arrived in New Zealand, through the country's newly opened one-way travel corridor.

As part of the government arrangment, RSE labourers will complete five days' isolation at their places of work instead of the normal two-week stay in hotel quarantine.

New Zealand Ethical Employers chairperson Tanya Pouwhare said the incoming workforce leave behind struggling families and economies at home.

She says they're cooperating with strict health measures to keep them safe from Covid.

Tanya Pouwhare said 150 RSE workers will arrive from Samoa on Saturday and in upcoming weeks, a Tongan contingent.

A dozen cyclones forecast for Pacific

The south-west Pacific is expected to be hit by up to 12 named cyclones between November and April.

The New Zealand Metservice assesses that at least three of these may be severe, reaching category 3 or higher.

It said this level of cyclone activity is near or slightly above average.

Senior meteorologist, Chris Noble, said the long-term average number of named tropical cyclones in the Southwest Pacific is about 10 per season.

"This coming season, the El Nino Southern Oscillation cycle is expected to be in the cool La Nina phase, but is likely to weaken and trend towards neutral late in the season," he said.

"During La Nina, cyclone activity is more likely in the west of basin, in and around the Coral Sea, especially late in the season from February to April."

Noble is advising all communities throughout the South Pacific to remain vigilant for developing cyclones or other severe weather.

391 new cases of Covid-19 in the past seven days in Fiji.

Fiji reported 391 new cases of Covid-19 in the past seven days.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary James Fong said 163 cases were recorded in the Central division, 211 new cases in the Western division, and 17 new cases in the Eastern Division.

He said since the last update on Monday, 11th October, they had recorded 63 new cases on 12th October, and 50 new cases on Wednesday.

"The weekly incidence rate graph by division indicates a continually declining trend despite the lifting of the Lami to Nausori containment zones on the 17th of September 2021," Dr Fong said tonight.

"Furthermore, the peak weekly incidence in the Western Division was approximately a third of that in the Central Division, and the cumulative case numbers are also reflecting a similar difference."

Cook Islanders heading home

The Cook Islands' second repatriation flight from New Zealand will depart tomorrow morning.

The first cohort of 87 Cook Islanders and work permit holders stranded in New Zealand as a result of the COVID-19 community outbreak, arrived in Rarotonga last week.

The flight, which is due to carry more than 230 passengers, will leave Auckland tomorrow and three negative tests are required prior to departure.

Cooks Islands' Olympic Commitee President, Hugh Graham, said he's looking forward to going back home with the rest of Cook Islands Olympic team members.

Tonga to receive Pfizer vaccine doses from NZ

About 31,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from New Zealand will arrive in Tonga next week for 12 to 17-year-olds, and pregnant women.

The plan is to start rolling out the Pfizer vaccine after its arrival on October 20th, in schools.

Town officers and church groups will assist health teams to reach out to families with young children who are not registered at schools.

To date, out of 63-thousand (63,128) people aged 18 and over, 50,000 have received their first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccines, while 31-thousand (30,953) have received their second dose.

This means over half of the eligible over-18s have not completed their vaccinations yet.

The government said the aim is to vaccinate 70 percent of the population by December to be able to repatriate people from high risk countries.