Urgent action is the key to addressing Covid-19

Pacific nations, led by the smallest and least well-off, moved decisively to restrict travel from a fast-growing list of Covid-19 affected countries.

Pacific nations, led by the smallest and least well-off, moved decisively to restrict travel from a fast-growing list of Covid-19 affected countries.

The remote Pacific nations have been ahead of the world in working to stop Covid-19 in its tracks. As the outbreak started to make international headlines, Pacific nations began closing their doors. In retrospect, as Europe becomes the new epicenter of Covid-19 infections, this looks like a very smart move. So far, the Pacific appears to have been spared the worst of the outbreak.

It was the Pacific nations who are the smallest and least well-off which quickly took this step to restrict travel from a fast-growing list of affected countries. The Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Tonga have all declared states of emergency. Health Declaration forms on arrival are now de rigeur. Many countries (for example, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu) are requiring a 14-day quarantine in a third country for travelers from affected countries.

Some went further and placed a ban on entrants from a growing list of affected countries, even extending this to restrict entrants from all countries. Samoa, in addition to quarantine periods in third countries, also requires medical checks prior to and after arrival, including for citizens. In mid-March, Fiji followed the lead of Samoa in banning cruise ship entry—a $50 million business for Fiji shut down overnight.