As COVID-19 cases climb in the U.S., there are still none in the Marshall Islands
As coronavirus cases climb in the U.S., some Pacific Island nations, including the Marshall Islands, have maintained covid-free status.
The Marshall Islands is still COVID-19 free.“We saw the threat and took action early,” said Jack Niedenthal, secretary of Health for the mid-Pacific island nation, describing the island nation’s March 3 travel ban, which prevented incoming travelers from across the globe. The Marshallese government had banned travelers from China several weeks earlier.
The safe status of the Marshall Islands contrasts with what Marshallese immigrants are experiencing in the United States. As, Marshallese have been disproportionately infected with the coronavirus in cities such as Spokane, Wash., and Springdale, Ark., in part because many of them serve as essential workers.
AdvertisementIn the South Pacific and Central Pacific, many islands nations, including New Zealand, have so far staved off the worst of COVID-19 by closing their borders early and taking other public health measures.Across the globe, onlysix countries are reportedly COVID-19 fre
e. With the exception of North Korea, all of them — Kiribati, Palau, American Samoa, Nauru and Micronesia — are Pacific Island nations that closed their borders to outside travelers.As of Wednesday, there are nearly 3.5 million coronavirus cases in the United States, more than any other country.
The Marshall Islands’ travel ban is still in place — and currently extended through Aug. 5 — while the government builds the infrastructure and stockpiles the equipment it will need should the virus invade.AdvertisementAccording to Casten Nemra, the Marshall Islands’ minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, construction on a new COVID-19 medical isolation center on Majuro — the nation’s capital and most populated island — is almost complete.
“Then we can begin bringing back our citizens who have been stranded,” he said, noting the nearly 500 Marshallese traveling abroad when the travel ban was announced — including Niedenthal’s wife, daughter and grandson, who were visiting family in Portland.
When the pandemic spread out of China and Europe earlier this year, the Marshall Islands had already been restricting domestic travel because of a dengue fever outbreak. So the decision to close down early was easy.“People thought we were out of our minds,” said Niedenthal, who leads the nation’s healthcare response. “They said travel bans don’t work.”
AdvertisementBut for island nations, he said, they do.Now the nation is considering restricting outbound travel too.Niedenthal said the Marshallese are watching “the mass chaos in the U.S.” where government officials “have lost control over the disease and don’t seem to be doing anything on the federal level to protect its own citizens.”
“Given how hard our own citizens have been hammered by this disease in the U.S., it just scares the hell out of us,” he said, noting that a decision is likely to be made by July 23, when the next commercial airline flight is scheduled to depart. Read more: Los Angeles Times »
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Good news. So there are no cases on barely populated isolated islands. Wow that’s amazing. I am sure you find away to make fake news about it soon, to say there is!
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