French Polynesia has first confirmed coronavirus case in S Pacific

A member of France’s parliament representing French Polynesia is the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the South Pacific, officials said Wednesday.

Maina Sage began feeling ill on Monday, two days after returning to the French pacific territory from France, the territory’s president Edouard Fritch said.

Sage was in self-isolation at her home and her symptoms were not considered serious, officials said.

The authorities did not say how she caught the virus. On February 26 she met with the French Culture Minister Franck Riester, who was later confirmed to have the disease.

There have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US state of Hawaii, but none others reported on Pacific islands, with suspected cases in the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Palau all testing negative.

New Zealand has had five confirmed cases, but no fatalities.

The geographic isolation and under-resourced health facilities on many Pacific island nations mean they are particularly vulnerable to infectious outbreaks.

The devastating impact was seen late last year when a measles epidemic in Samoa killed 83 people, most of them babies and toddlers.

As a result, Pacific nations have introduced some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions to combat coronavirus, including the Marshalls this week banning all inbound air travellers to the archipelago.


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