A country in the Pacific Ocean goes into lockdown for the first time. It was the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic started two years ago that Kiribati went into lockdown. Dozens of passengers on a plane from the U.S. to Kiribati tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, the Kiribati government announced that 36 out of 54 passengers on a flight that came from Fiji on January 14 had tested positive for the virus. This is the same number of people who came from Fiji. All precautions have been taken and passengers have been “managed” from the time they were put into pre-departure quarantine in Fiji to when they arrived in Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, the claim said.
Kirbati has a population of just 122,391. Only three confirmed cases had been found there before last week’s flight. That’s partly because of the island’s strict entry rules during the pandemic and because it is so far away. People who live in Kiribati are 3,100 miles away from North America.
Kiribati’s government says it will start a 24-hour curfew in South Tarawa, the main city in the country, and the nearby town of Beito on Monday.
Residents should stay at home until they need to go out for important work, get help from emergency services, or buy food or other important things, the government said in its statement.
A lot of bars and nightclubs are likely to be closed, and public transportation isn’t likely to be running.
In the meantime, Kiribati wants everyone to wear masks in public places and on public transportation. From 10pm to 5am, there is already a curfew in place, and social gatherings are limited to 10 people at the moment, but this is likely to change soon.
When the virus first started spreading in late 2019, many states closed their borders to people from other countries. This meant that Kiribati and other Pacific countries didn’t have to deal with as much of the pandemic.
People in the South Pacific have done this a few times before. Tonga put the main island of Tongatapu on lockdown for a week after the country’s first Covid-19 case was found there in November.