Pacific warned to remain vigilant

Thursday 8 October 2020 | Written by RNZ | Published in Small World


Pacific warned to remain vigilant

The regional director of the World Health Organisation has urged Pacific countries to stay vigilant amid Covid-19.

The Pacific Island Times reports Takeshi Kasai also advised Pacific island countries that have remained Covid-free to work hard to maintain their health status.

In a virtual press conference, Dr Kasai asked Pacific countries to immediately address the high incidence of non-communicable diseases in the region as people with these conditions have a very high risk of contracting the coronavirus.

He also said many small island countries in the region are vulnerable because of already difficult living conditions and limited healthcare capacity.

Dr Kasai said various Pacific islands may be Covid-free for now but they should continue to be vigilant and work on upgrading their response capabilities.

“Seize this moment to address non-communicable conditions and use this opportunity to have a healthier population, to avoid being at high-risk for Covid-19,” Takeshi Kasai said.

- Australia’s aid funding to the Pacific has increased slightly for this year, with new, separate funding for Covid-19 response in the Pacific.

The package was contained in the federal budget released Tuesday night.

Australia’s overall aid budget has decreased by about A$44 million dollars, though the portion for the Pacific has increased slightly, to A$1.66 billion.

Papua New Guinea is still by far the biggest recipient, with $491 million, though that’s down $20 million from last year.

However, the budget also contains a separate two-year $305 million Covid response package.

Foreign minister Marise Payne said this will help address the social and economic costs of the pandemic in the Pacific.