Marshall Islands

Potentially poisonous product found in two Pacific nations

Reuters reports this follows a spate of child deaths linked to similar syrups in some countries last year, but the WHO statement did not say whether any children in the Marshall Islands or Micronesia had fallen sick.

The WHO said samples from a batch of imported cough syrup was contaminated with unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.

These are toxic to humans when consumed and can prove fatal.

Guaifenesin is an expectorant used to relieve chest congestion and the symptoms of cough.

WHO declares public health emergency for Marshall Islands

A total of 571 new cases of the virus were recorded in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

Three people have died and over 10 percent of the population in the capital Majuro have tested positive according to the Marshall Islands Ministry of Health and Human Services.

The WHO has declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

All schools will be closed for the next two months, just one of the measures under the government's disaster management plan.

Empty seats mark first Pacific Islands Forum summit meeting

Prime ministers from Australia and Papua New Guinea are expected to fly into Suva tonight, however the empty seats with Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Nauru name tags will not be filled.

This morning's meeting for leaders, observers and associate members was opened by Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who acknowledged the 'breakdown in communication' with the Micronesian bloc.

He called on the leaders to remember the necessity of re-establishing "our family bonds".

Marshall Islands sees jump in Covid border cases

By Thursday, testing confirmed that 23 of 82 people in quarantine in the Marshall Islands "Safe Travels" repatriation programme were positive, while an additional three people in US Army-managed quarantine were also positive.

The Marshall Islands has so far remained Covid-free with no community spread. All of the 26 positive cases remain in government-managed quarantine centres on Kwajalein and Majuro.

Up until recently, the country required anyone coming to the Marshall Islands to quarantine in Honolulu first with multiple Covid tests prior to travelling.

Three US Army personnel test positive for Covid at Marshall Islands border

The three army personnel tested positive for Covid soon after arrival at the US Army Garrison - Kwajalein Atoll (USAG-KA) Tuesday while starting a two-week quarantine period for entry into the country.

Marshalls leads Pacific's Covid-19 vax charge

The programme is funded by the United States and has been so successful the Micronesian republic has withdrawn from the global Covid-19 vaccine facility Covax, aimed at providing equitable access among low and middle income countries.

Covax, which is funded through wealthy governments and donor organisations, had committed 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to help the Marshall Islands achieve 20 percent coverage by year's end.

Deliveries were slated to begin next month.

Marshalls follows Palau, FSM in initiating Forum withdrawal

"Cabinet approved the withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum last Thursday," said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Casten Nemra.

"(The) next step is for Nitijela (parliament) to endorse the move through a resolution."

The move by the Marshall Islands follows similar actions by Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) over the past week.

The five Micronesian presidents, including those from Kiribati and Nauru, met 8 February and agreed on the withdrawal, and that they saw minimal if any impact by departing the region's primary body.

Islands move quickly on Covid-19 vaccine outreach

On a per capita basis, the islands have higher vaccine rates than many states in the US, said the Marshall Islands Health Secretary in Majuro.

In the first 10 days since receiving a small number of doses to start, the Marshall Islands injected first vaccines to over 600 healthcare workers and front line government employees who work in sea and airports.

The US government is providing the Moderna brand Covid-19 vaccines to the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

Record drugs haul washes up on shore in Marshall Islands

About 649kg (1,430lbs) of cocaine was found hidden inside a vessel that had run ashore.

Police said the drugs were incinerated on Tuesday, apart from two packets, which have been sent to the US Drug Enforcement Administration for testing.

The drug haul has an estimated street value of $80m (£61m).

Drugs often wash ashore on the Marshall Islands, but last week's discovery set a new record.

The boat was found by a local resident on Ailuk atoll. Locals tried to move the vessel but were unable to due to its weight.

Marshall Islands feeling economic hit of Covid-19

The Ministry of Finance estimated a 25 percent shortfall in collections against projections for March, with worse likely to come.

"The number that I'm providing now is very rough," said Finance Secretary May Bing Thursday.

"But when we looked at our figures for FY2020, our collection in March is way below budgeted/expected figures and may continue the trend in coming months."

She estimated the March tax shortfall at 25 percent.

"We do anticipate a decrease in collection as activities within the private sector are clearly challenged," Ms Bing added.