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In Brief: News from around the Pacific

Wednesday 29 September 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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In Brief: News from around the Pacific
The latest outbreak of Covid-19 in New Caledonia has seen a surge in vaccinations in the French Pacific Territory. 7 September 2021 Noumea, New Caledonia. Photo: Clotilde Richalet / Hans Lucas

Another eight Covid-10 deaths in New Caledonia; 75 candidates register for Tonga election; Kanak broadcaster Joseph Caihe mourned; Samoa reissues travel advisory for incoming travellers

Another eight Covid-10 deaths in New Caledonia

New Caledonia has recorded another eight deaths from Covid-19 in its latest daily update.

It takes the death toll in the French territory to 101.

As well, health authorities reported 459 new confirmed cases of the virus.

New Caledonia has recorded 6 838 cases sine early June.

Almost a third of the population has been vaccinated.

75 candidates register for Tonga election

In Tonga, 75 people have registered as candidates for the general election in November.

There are 17 seats in the Tonga parliament for democratically elected members.

Fifteen are incumbents and 12 women are standing, including Losaline Ma'asi, who is the current MP in Tongatapu No 5.

One seat without an incumbent is Tongatapu No 6. - the seat of former deputy prime minister, Sione Vuna Fa'otusia, who died last month.

The other is Vava'u No 16, which has been held at various times by the husband and wife team, 'Etuate and 'Akosita Lavulavu - they were both convicted of corruption and are now serving terms in Hu'atolitoli Prison.

The noble families will also choose candidates to stand for the nine seats reserved for the nobility.

Kanak broadcaster Joseph Caihe mourned

New Caledonia is mourning the death of veteran television broadcaster Joseph Caihe, the first Kanak journalist on RFO.

The 71-year-old TV personality died at his home at Mont-Dore yesterday following a bad fall.

He's celebrated for his influence on the audiovisual landscape of New Caledonia including hosting the Melanesia 2000 Festival.

Originally from the island of Lifou, Caihe began his television career in 1980 and announced his retirement in 2015.

Caihe held several managerial positions including the regional director of RFO Wallis and Futuna from 2002 before returning to Nouméa in 2008 until his retirement, which included coverage of the Pacific Games in 2011.

Samoa reissues travel advisory for incoming travellers

The Samoan Ministry of Health has issued revised travel advisory for intending travellers into the country effective immediately.

All travel documents must now be in the English language, and if they are not passengers they will be denied boarding without exception.

Passengers travelling from Australia's states of Victoria and New South Wales, India and the United Kingdom are not permitted to travel directly to Samoa.

Instead they must all travel via a country which either does not have community transmission or where community transmission of the Covid-19 Delta Variant is minimal. In these countries travellers must then spend 28 days before travel to Samoa.

All travellers and crew are now required to be fully vaccinated with the required two doses, except the Janssen single dose vaccine.

The advisory also says other preferred vaccines are those already prequalified by the WHO, and include AstraZeneca, Pfiser, Moderna and Sinopharm.

Facebook seeks to counter health misinformation in PNG

Facebook says its campaign to combat health misinformation has reached about 800,000 people in Papua New Guinea.

The social media platform's Fight Covid-19 Misinformation campaign will this week begin a rerun, with Facebook saying it's making headway into the problem.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly, PNG Prime Minister James Marape cited Facebook as a concern in terms of misinformation about the pandemic. He linked it to the low vaccination rate in PNG.

Facebook says its campaign helps ensure PNG people have ready access to official public health resources to make informed decisions about information they see on Facebook.

The campaign has run in seven other parts of the Pacific: Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Wallis & Futuna.

Stranded Niueans prioritise not taking virus home

A Niue MP says the priority for those stranded in Auckland by the Covid-19 lockdown, is to ensure they don't take the virus back to the island with them.

O'Love Jacobsen is one of about 100 Niueans in Auckland, most of whom came to New Zealand for medical treatment, including Jacobsen, who arrived in early August.

She said the Niueans were relaxed and philosophical about their predicament, or at least they haven't raised any concerns with her.

"I haven't heard anyone who has given me a call, usually they do and have a big moan to me, but no, none of them have.

"But I think for them it was more important that they don't take whatever back - that they don't take the virus back with them when they go."

Another Niue MP, Richard Hipa, came by medivac at the beginning of lockdown and is now recovering in Auckland.

Tuilaepa against reopening of airstrip

The leader of the opposition Human Rights Protection Party, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has warned against the proposed reopening of the Fagali'I airstrip for travel to American Samoa.

According to TV1Samoa, Tuilaepa said the main reason for closing the airstrip was safety given the runway was too short for the fast planes used by both Samoa Airways and Talofa Airways.

And he said the threat of drug trafficking was annother reason his government closed the airport.

Minister for Civil Aviation, Olo Fiti Va'ai, recently said in Parliament that he would reopen the airstrip as it was convenient for the travelling public.

Olo said he intended to close the new Ti'avea airstrip down even before a plane had landed on it.