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In brief: News from around the Pacific

Tuesday 19 October 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


In brief: News from around the Pacific
American Samoa’s Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga (left) and his deputy Talauega Eleasalo Ale. Photo: RNZ PACIFIC/Fili Sagapolutele

Date for Samoa by-elections changed; Covid-19 death toll increases in PNG as team from Australia arrive to help; Funeral homes in PNG's Goroka and Lae stop receiving bodies of those who died from Covid-19; Samoa MP slapped with fine by District Court

Date for Samoa by-elections changed

The date for seven by-elections in Samoa has been changed.

A social media post by the Office of the Electoral Commission said polling day will now be November 26, and pre-polling will be held two days earlier on November 24.

The Office of the Electoral Commission said the Writ for Elections for all seven Electoral Constituencies will now be issued on 29 October 2021.

Nominations for candidates for all seven Electoral Constituencies will open November 1 and close November 5.

The seven by-elections have been called as a result of petitions against election night winners of the 9 April 2021 General Elections.

The by-elections will be at constituencies on the island of Upolu and only one will be held on the big island Savaii, for the Falealupo Electoral Constituency.

A'ana Alofi No 2, Sagaga II, Sagaga IV, Safata II, Falealili II and Aleipata-itupa-i-lalo are the six electoral Constituencies on Upolu who will be going to the polls.

Covid-19 death toll increases in PNG as team from Australia arrive to help

The Covid-19 death toll continues to rise around Papua New Guinea and an emergency management team has arrive in Port Moresby from Australia to help health officials respond to the surge in cases.

Port Moresby General Hospital recorded 35 Covid deaths in the past three weeks.

Its chief executive officer Dr Paki Molumi said this is the largest surge of cases at the hospital with an increase in the rate of positive cases from 35 to 89 percent since the end of September.

Molumi said the hospital is experiencing a strain on its workforce after 89 staff members tested positive for Covid-19.

The Australian team includes three medical assistance team health specialists, two logisticians plus staff from Emergency Management Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Australia is also providing 40 oxygen concentrators for patients in hospitals.

Funeral homes in PNG's Goroka and Lae stop receiving bodies of those who died from Covid-19

The Glanrowan Funeral homes in Goroka and Lae in Papua New Guinea have stopped receiving the bodies of those who have died from Covid-19.

Funeral director, John Simon Glanville, has instructed staff that any deaths requiring mortuary and embalming services must first be taken to the general hospital to be issued a death certificate and swabbed to be confirmed negative for the Covid-19.

Glanville has apologised for the inconvenience and said it is a measure to protect against Covid-19 after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19 in Lae.

The Morobe Covid-19 Emergency Operations Centre reports both the stadium and hospital morgues there are also full.

Samoa MP slapped with fine by District Court

The Samoa District Court has slapped the A'ana Alofi No. 4 MP Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, with a $2,000 fine.

He was also discharged without conviction. The sentence was handed down by District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii.

Toeolesulusulu pleaded guilty to three related traffic offences through his lawyer Muriel Lui in July.

Toeolesulusulu was named the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Minister of Tourism during the FAST party May 24 swearing-in ceremony.

However immediately after the charges was filed, he stepped down as a Cabinet Minister.

The Samoa Global reached out to Toesulusulu for comments via email, however there has been no response.

Covid vaccinations will soon be compulsory for American Samoa government workers

The American Samoa government says covid vaccinations will become mandatory for government employees.

Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga announced at a Cabinet meeting that he and Lieutenant Governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale made the decision as vaccination in other countries has been shown to protect lives from the deadly virus.

Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean and Representative Larry Sanitoa urged the vice chairman of the Task Force, Attorney General Fainuulelei Ala'ilima Falefatu Utu, to advise the governor to adopt mandatory vaccination for government employees as soon as possible.

The Governor said they will wait until after the current vaccination campaign ends then look at enforcing the mandatory vaccinations.

NZ boxer maintains unbeaten record in Dubai

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Hemi Ahio has maintained his unbeaten record with a knockout victory over Iran's Mohammad Ali Bayat Farid in Dubai.

Ahio dropped Farid in the opening round of their headline fight and knocked him out in round two.

The victory took his career to 18-0 with 13 KOs.

Ahio's fight was promoted by Britain's former unified light-welterweight champion Amir Khan, and Ahio hopes the victory can open some doors for him in the UK where the heavyweight scene continues to boom.

American Samoa has no plans to close-borders

American Samoa's governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga said his administration has no plans to close-borders on commercial flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago.

Lemanu was among the 200-plus passengers on the September 13th flight from Honolulu where the first imported positive Covid-19 case was identified from the travellers.

Lemanu has met with his Cabinet for the first time in person since he left for Honolulu in July.

With three tests conducted prior to departing Honolulu for American Samoa, as well as required quarantine upon arrival in Pago Pago, Lemanu argues that the current protocol for incoming travellers is working to protect the territory.