Pacific

NZ virus case may mean ban on Pacific flights, government told

There are fears the coronavirus could spell a repeat of an epidemic of measles that spread from New Zealand to Samoa, where it has killed 83 people and made nearly 6000 ill since October.

Samoa's Ministry of Health has already confirmed that two Samoan sailors are in quarantine for 14 days at the Faleolo District Hospital amid fears they might be carrying China's coronavirus.

Samoa has stopped direct flights from China to reduce the risk of introducing the coronavirus.

Pacific nations on alert for coronavirus, 6 quarantined in Fiji

Due to restrictions in Apia, the travellers were reportedly denied entry into Samoa yesterday after they had flown from China via Hong Kong and Nadi.

Fiji's information ministry said on return to Nadi, all six were examined by a doctor and assessed as well, with no fever.

They are in quarantine to be cleared to fly.

The ministry said all six were from Fujian province in China, and none had a history of travel to Wuhan or Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak started.

New Zealand 'has responsibility to protect Pacific from coronavirus'

The death toll from the coronavirus sweeping through China has increased to 17 to six and more than 500 people are confirmed to have the illness, which began in Wuhan.

Health authorities say the current risk to New Zealand is low.

But Otago University's Michael Baker says the virus has already spread to several other countries, and monitoring and preparation has to be stepped up. 

He says the recent spread of the measles to the Pacific highlights the obligation New Zealand has to the region.

Private sector targeted in disaster resilience project in the Pacific

This was highlighted at the launch of the Private Sector Toolkits for six Pacific countries namely Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG and Marshall Islands in Suva on Tuesday.

Pacific Community (SPC) Communications and Knowledge Management Team Leader, Lisa Kingsberry says they have designed the kit to be user friendly for the public.

UN agencies tell Pacific to vaccinate against measles

They said this should to happen before travelling internationally, attending major events or community gatherings.

Vaccination provided the best protection against measles and parents should get their children immunised, the agencies said.

In October, Samoa and Tonga both declared measles outbreaks.

Both UNICEF and the WHO said they were continuing to provide resources to Pacific states to respond to the measles threat.

     

Researchers to look at Pacific genetic link to gout, diabetes

Both diseases and other metabolic disorders are rife in the Pacific.

A team of researchers from the University of Otago has been granted the money by New Zealand's Marsden Fund Council.

One of the principal researchers, Anna Gosling, said through the work Professor Tony Merriman has already done with Maori and Pasifika in New Zealand, they thought there was a genetic link.

Throughout the Pacific, where there are high rates of these diseases, people had a shared ancestry, Dr Gosling said.

Up to 12 Pacific cyclones expected this season - forecasters

Working with New Zealand's MetService and meterological services in the island nations, the team said there would be elevated activity in the latter part of the season, from February.

Nine to 12 named tropical cyclones could occur in the Southwest Pacific basin between November and April, with the risk highest in Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the southern Cook Islands, and the Austral Islands, they said.

Four severe cyclones reaching category 3 or higher might occur anywhere across the region.

     

Australia eases kava restrictions

The announcement of a kava pilot programme was made as Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, visited Fiji on Friday.

Mr Morrison said the amount of kava that can be imported for personal consumption will be doubled from two to four kilograms by the end of the year.

A pilot programme for commercial kava imports will also be implemented by the end of 2020.

 

     

New Zealand increases seasonal jobs for Pacific workers

The NZ Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway announced that the RSE cap would increase by 1,550 places this year, bringing the total available RSE visas to 14,400.

“We are helping our regions’ growers to plan ahead and get the support they need. For the first time we are announcing a two-year increase to the RSE quota. This will help address industry concerns that a lack of certainty on RSE numbers makes it hard for them to plan for labour needs and accommodation requirements,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.

NZ partners with Pacific to combat Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

The Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) damages or kills coconut and oil palm trees, affecting the lives of people who depend on the industries for employment and income, as well as food and building materials.

If the beetle continues to spread it is estimated the Pacific could lose at least NZ$237 million per annum by 2040 as a result of damage to coconut trees alone.

New Zealand is contributing up to $18 million to support response efforts across the Pacific to reduce Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle populations and limit the spread of the beetle.