Pacific

Pacific must be prepared for long battle with coronavirus-Op piece PIPSO's Stephen Lyon

A radio interview with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on New Zealand’s Newstalk ZB (0740 09/02/20) it seems to indicate the New Zealand Government has not learned from the measles epidemic in Samoa nor have they accepted the criticisms of their own Ministry of Health. And that head in the sand attitude has been continued with this far more deadly new disease.

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.

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.

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.

 

     

Workshop on Maritime Security in the Pacific

"Good maritime and port security is the enabler for maritime and economic development through maritime trade. It can be taken for granted when it works, but maintaining good security is essential," said the UN body.

The workshop coincided with IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim's visit to Vanuatu, Fiji and Australia - the first time an IMO Secretary General visited the South Pacific.

Pacific insurers see SME and group business as a way forward for growth

However, a lack of insurance awareness amongst business owners, and the condition of some businesses (insurability) are hampering the speed at which insurance take up is happening amongst this market segment.

The majority of the respondents from 12 of the leading insurance providers in the region recently surveyed by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) say that while SME’s make up a very important part of Pacific economies, insurance providers are still working out how to best capitalise on the opportunity that SMEs present.

NZ RSE scheme boosting employment in the regions

Business expansion has boosted employment in regional areas, with RSE employers hiring more New Zealanders from the local community, including through Work and Income NZ.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Pacifica Labour and Skills Manager, George Rarere says the 2019 survey highlights the positive impact of RSE workers on businesses and the local community.

“A stable seasonal workforce has meant more employers have been able to grow their business operations and put more investment into plant equipment and offer job opportunities to locals,” Mr Rarere says.