Pacific Islands

WHO plans to end acute phase of pandemic, despite cases flaring in the Pacific

WHO's South Pacific representative Dr Mark Jacobs said the plan will help countries to move on from the emergency phase of Covid-19, to a phase of managing it "like an ongoing issue".

"In the Pacific, it's been about working with countries, and along with partners, to help build their capacity to manage Covid into the future," he said.

The plan talks about three different possible scenarios, one of those being the virus continues to evolve into new variants.

"The severity of it will go down over time, as immunity increases because of vaccination," Dr Jacobs said.

Japan offers 3 million vaccine doses at Pacific Islands Summit

Suga’s announcement came as leaders of Japan and Pacific island nations and territories held an online meeting Friday, with Tokyo aiming to promote its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” in an apparent effort to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

In the virtual meeting, Japan also pledged assistance to help Pacific countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic by strengthening health care and medical systems, providing economic relief, and improving infrastructure facilities among other measures, according to government officials.

Medical expert's warning about low uptake of vaccine

The Samoa Observer reports Toleafoa Viali Lameko saying the comparatively low uptake of the first vaccine is a concern.

Toleafoa said proof of how vital vaccinations is supported by the situation in Fiji where there were more than 300 cases yesterday and one death.

Data shows less than 40 percent of people in Samoa have received a vaccine.

That is much lower for Tonga and the Cook Islands and also below the rate for Fiji.

     

NZ says committed to getting vaccines into Pacific

Nanaia Mahuta told the New Zealand Parliament, discussions were being held around the implementation of a so-called TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation aimed at speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines.

The TRIPS [Trade and Intellectual Property Rules] mechanism looked to protect intellectual property and trade interests but in doing so critics said it slowed collaboration between companies.

NGOs had called for a waiver to be approved immediately.

Mahuta said the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines needed to be addressed urgently.

World Rugby to help fund Pacific Island Super Rugby teams

The Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika were announced in November as New Zealand Rugby's preferred partners to join an expanded 12-team competition in 2022, subject to a range of conditions.

World Rugby's Executive Committee has approved a $2.36m annual funding package for an initial three-year period to support the two franchises, subject to NZR Board approval and key conditions being met.

Both franchises will also be supported by their respective unions and private equity funding.

Pacific Islanders turn to local economies to drive post-pandemic recovery

With the global pandemic far from over, Pacific Islanders are looking to their local and regional economies to drive resilience and recovery.

NZ collaborates with UNDP to launch Climate Risk Insurance Initiative for the Pacific

The initiative is jointly developed and will be implemented by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United Nations University Institute for Environment Society and the United Nations Development Programme.

“New Zealand, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is pleased to support this initiative as it fully aligns with New Zealand’s “climate action” agenda as well as its focus on disaster risk reduction in the Pacific to address vulnerabilities of low-income populations,” Curr said.

Australia urged to take in 3000 Pacific Islanders to offset climate change

The recommendation was outlined in a new policy paper released today by the University of New South Wales' Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.

The paper urges the government to do more to help neighbouring countries, with several Pacific island nations facing an existential threat from rising sea levels.

Co-author Jane McAdam said it was a roadmap for Australia to deal specifically with the displacement of Pacific Islanders as a result of climate change and natural disasters.

Australian migration policy leaves Pacific people in limbo

Due to the pandemic, Australia closed its borders to almost everyone except Australian citizens, permanent residents, resident New Zealand citizens or immediate family members.

However there are over 100,000 people stuck overseas waiting to get visas to be with their partners in Australia. The situation is ostensibly subject to the annual cap on the number of visas that the government will grant from all visa categories - last year it was capped at 160,000.

WHO urges Pacific to remain vigilant amid pandemic

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.