Covid-19 spread in New Caledonia picks up pace

Covid-19 has continued its spread in New Caledonia over the weekend, with 805 new infections detected since Friday.

The authorities say there are now 2520 active cases in the community.

20 people are in hospital care of whom seven are in intensive care.

The surge in case numbers follows the arrival of the Omicron variant this month and has prompted calls for more testing centres to open as more people show symptoms.

Rapid antigen tests with health professionals are free until at least the end of the month.

Selftests can be bought in pharmacies but their results aren't recognised to be able to get a health pass.

65 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

New Caledonia was Covid-19 free until September when Delta rapidly infected thousands and killed more than 280 people.

Just days before the Delta outbreak, Congress passed a law making vaccinations mandatory, but its application has been repeatedly deferred and is now expected to be enforced before the end of February.

Frontline staff and healthcare employees are being threatened with fines, but there is no provision to sanction the general public.

The use of a health pass to enter venues has been mandated since the end of the lockdown in October.

The vaccination law as well as other restrictions have been criticised by civil society groups, with several demonstrations being held in Noumea in defiance of the meeting rules.

Ten days ago, a demonstration went ahead despite being explicitly forbidden by the French High Commission.

A complaint has also been lodged against the president Louis Mapou and the Congress president Roch Wamytan for allegedly endangering a person's life.

This happened after a 19-year-old woman reported suffering from partial paralysis after her vaccination.

According to the public broadcaster, the complaint said vaccinations were made mandatory without there being a compensation scheme in place.