Kiribati Covid-free no more; citizens ordered to mask up
Tarawa-- Kiribati has left the list of coronavirus-free countries, reporting its second case of Covid-19 aboard a vessel from Papua New Guinea.
Radio Kiritabi reported that there are now two local seafarers quarantined offshore.
To prevent community transmission, Kiribati President Taneti Maamau has imposed a curfew that begins today from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday.
Maamau raised the emergency alert from 1 to 3, making masks mandatory and social gatherings banned. The first case was reported earlier this week.
Radio Kiribati reported that the Kiribati Catholic Church has advised members on South Tarawa and Betio to cease all gatherings and fundraising activities to support the government’s efforts in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
The Church’s Vicar General told Radio Kiribati News members are also required to wear face masks and practice social distancing during church masses.
Until recently, Kiribati has managed to keep the country coronavirus-free. The government closed its borders and declared a state of emergency in March 2020.
A former territory of the United Kingdom, Kiribati is one of the least developed countries in the world and is highly dependent on international aid for its economy. It has a population of 119,000.
Health authorities noted that Kiribati faced capacity constraints and responding to economic, social and potential health impacts of the pandemic would be a challenge.
Kiribati has already been working to address a range of health challenges including non-communicable diseases and communicable diseases such as tuberculous and leprosy.