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Pacific economies walking a tight rope

Friday 1 May 2020 | Written by Gray Clapham | Published in Small World

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Pacific nations and territories are caught in a balancing act between public health and easing out of lockdown restrictions, according to WHO.

The World Health Organisation’s Angela Merianos said new initiatives like the Pacific Islands Forum’s fast-track humanitarian pathway are helping these efforts.

Dr Merianos leads a new space for more than 20 agencies joining forces against Covid-19 in the Pacific.

Dr Merianos said the team are well aware of the impact of restrictions on tourism-dependent economies.

“I think we really have to again work collectively to make sure that we’re balancing the interest of public health and human safety.

“With of course the fact that people are feeling the effects of lockdowns and containment measures, we have to navigate that fine balance as effectively as possible,” she said.

- New Caledonia will on Monday lift almost all restrictions imposed over the Covid-19 outbreak – but will keep its borders closed.

The president Thierry Santa said there had been no new cases recorded for 25 days and if the situation remained unchanged on Sunday, experts believe that it’s almost 100 per cent certain that the virus no longer circulates in New Caledonia.

A total of 18 people contracted the virus and 17 have recovered.

At the beginning of last week, the French High Commission and the New Caledonian government already allowed for free movement and the opening of businesses, schools and restaurants.

From Monday and for a period of six weeks, events and meetings will be allowed if participants can be identified.

People wearing masks will be able to go to cinemas, theatres and gambling outfits and they may use buses, ships and planes without requiring to keep distance.

What will remain banned are sport competitions and cultural festivals while night clubs and nakamals will have to stay shut.