Pacific

Pacific Covid-19 cases rise: WHO

There are new confirmed cases in Papua New Guinea, its tenth, and Guam, where a spike in cases has taken its total to 231.

The total number of cases listed by the WHO for the region is 352 - an increase of 38 cases since last week.

The WHO says although infection rates are slowing in the Pacific, the crisis is far from over.

While most Pacific Island nations have no recorded cases, the WHO says in many parts of the region, the pandemic is only starting to make its presence felt.

COVID-19 impact on Pacific SMEs severe, but with a glimmer of hope

A survey by Pacific Trade and Invest shows 90 percent of Pacific SMEs report a decline in revenue since the pandemic hit and 92 per cent believe COVID-19 has negatively influenced the economy.

The outbreak has severely affected the operations and profitability of their businesses.

Not only that, those employed by the SMEs have lost  jobs as they could not sustain the impact of the outbreak.

Travel bans and restrictions on gatherings have also affected businesses in PNG and the Pacific.

FFA convenes talks on impacts of climate change on tuna

The meeting is part of the Secretariat’s work programme emanating from Forum Fisheries Ministers.  At their meeting held in Pohnpei, FSM in June 2019, Ministers agreed that this work would include:

(i) adaptive management regimes (ii) working with a consortium of partners to secure maritime boundaries in the face of sea-level rise and (iii) managing tuna stocks to support their contribution to the food security of Pacific Island communities.

NZ-based 531pi to be broadcast to Pacific

Sara-Jane Elika, Interim CEO of PMN says: “Over the last year, our talanoa with Pasifika TV has focused on expanding the reach of our content given our close links with the Pacific region.

“The first opportunity came through the Pacific Divas National Identity showcase and now we look to a phased approach with our Breakfast shows being the first of many audio feeds to come.

“It is a very exciting time”.

NZ Speaker wants better appreciation of Pacific

According to Trevor Mallard, the Pacific parliaments programme, Tai a Kiwa, is a good vehicle for this.

Historically, Wellington has not had a good relationship with Pacific parliaments, said Mr Mallard, and had looked to the UK, the US, Australia and more recently to Asia.

He said it was why he had pushed for Speaker-led parliamentary exchanges in the region, before the Tai a Kiwa programme which was formalised a year ago.

"Firstly, up to Vanuatu and the Solomons," he said.

Pacific caught in balancing act due to Covid-19 efforts

The WHO's Angela Merianos said new initiatives like the Pacific Islands Forum's fast-track humanitarian pathway are helping these efforts.

Dr Merianos leads a new space for more than 20 agencies joining forces against Covid-19 in the Pacific.

She said the team are well aware of the impact of restrictions on tourism-dependent economies.

"I think we really have to again work collectively watch this space, make sure that we're balancing the interest of public health and human safety."

EU will mobilise and redirect €119 million to aid Pacific combat COVID-19

Fifteen partner Pacific islands countries and four European Overseas Countries and Territories will benefit from this support.

The EU action will focus on strengthening partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and their research and preparedness capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigating its socioeconomic impact.

Free support for 'vulnerable' businesses in Pacific region

Business Link Pacific, a programme funded by the New Zealand government, is available for small to medium businesses made up of five to fifty employees in Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands. 

Pacific businesses are particularly exposed because of global tighter border restrictions and plummeting demands to travel.

Business Link Pacific Director Steve Knapp says: "Pacific small businesses are vulnerable because they're working in quite small markets and are often reliant on tourism and overseas businesses."

Waiting game as Pacific lags on Covid19 testing

Although only a handful of New Zealand's Pacific neighbours were able to do such testing there were plans to change that.

Anyone who's had the Covid-19 test in New Zealand had their results back within a day or two.

For Pacific neighbours, including the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga, that wait for results can take a week or more.

Covid-19 testing requires laboratory facilities which only exist in five Pacific locations, including Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Concerns Covid-19 stresses could increase domestic violence in Pacific

A family advocate in Tonga said the national lockdown and closing of borders had added stress to many households.

Tonga is under a State of Emergency as the government attempted to keep the country Covid-19 free.

Tonga's Women & Children Crisis Centre Director, 'Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, said being in confinement could mean those already in violent relationships, could have their situation exacerbated.

She said the community would start to feel the economic crunch of the pandemic measures.