Tag Archives: Pacific Islands

Cut off for nine months, Pacific atoll conservationists are experiencing the Covid pandemic | World News | Instant News

In February, just as the coronavirus pandemic began to hit, four people sailed to one of the most remote places on Earth – a small camp on Kure Atoll, on the shores of the uninhabited Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

There, more than 2,200 km from Honolulu, they live in isolation for nearly nine months while working to restore the island’s environment.

Separated from the rest of the planet, their world is confined to a tiny patch of sand midway between the US mainland and Asia. Without television or internet access, their only information comes from satellite text messages and occasional emails.

They know about the pandemic in the midst of their own isolation, but have not experienced any seismic upheaval caused by the Covid-19 worldwide.

Now they are back, reappearing into a changed society that may feel as alien today as the island isolation that took place in March.

They have to adjust to wearing face masks, stay indoors and meet friends without giving hugs or handshakes.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, but I started reading the book The Stand by Stephen King, which was all about disease outbreaks, and I thought, ‘Geez, this is what it feels like to come home. ? “Said Charlie Thomas, one of the island’s four workers.” All this … prevention, these things, sick people everywhere. Very strange to think about. “

The group is part of the state effort Hawaii to safeguard the fragile island ecosystem of Kure, which is part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the largest contiguous protected environment in the country. Communities are not permitted to land anywhere in the North West Hawaiian Islands.

From left, Charlie Thomas, left, Matt Butschek II, Matt Saunter, and Naomi Worcester, on the Kure Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, one of the most remote places in the world. Photo: Matt Saunter / AP

Kure is the only island in the northern part of the archipelago that is administered by the state, the rest of which are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Formerly a Coast Guard station, this atoll is home to seabirds, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and coral reef teeming with turtles, tiger sharks and other marine life.

Two field teams go there every year, one for summer and one for winter. Their main job is to remove invasive plants and replace them with native species and clean up debris such as fishing nets and plastics that drift ashore.

Thomas, the youngest member of the 18-year-old team, grew up in a coastal town in New Zealand and spends most of his free time with seabirds and other wildlife. He finished school a year early to start his first job as a sailor for an organization dedicated to cleaning the coastline before volunteering for the summer at Kure Atoll.

The expedition was the first time she had been away from home in so long, but she was ready to cut ties.

“I’m sick of social media, I’m sick of everything that’s going on,” he said. “And I thought, you know, I’m really excited to get rid of my phone, lose touch with everything … I don’t have to look at all the terrible things that are going on right now.”

Kure Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, more than 2000 kilometers from Honolulu

Kure Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, more than 2000 kilometers from Honolulu

When Thomas left New Zealand for Hawaii, there were no nearby cases of the virus that he could remember. By the time he left Honolulu for Kure, the virus began to “creep closer” to the islands.

“We just saw stories on television and such,” he said. “But, you know, we are going. Go to. That’s not a big deal for us. “

Once in Kure, it’s hard to get a complete picture of what’s going on in the world.

“I don’t think I really know what to think because we get so many different answers to the questions we ask,” he said.

Thomas is now on hotel in quarantine in Auckland, where he lives with his parents, sister, and a dog named Benny. He would miss hugs and “squeezing five people on the stool for dinner,” he said.

American Matthew Butschek, who is also in Kure, says it will take time to adjust to the changing world they are returning to.

In quarantine, he looked out the window of his Honolulu cabin and saw school-age children playing on the rocks and climbing trees – all wearing masks. It reminded him of apocalyptic films.

“That’s not normal for me. But everyone is like, yeah, this is what we do now. This is how we live, “he said.

Seabirds on the Kure Atoll on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Seabirds on the Kure Atoll on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Photo: Charlie Thomas / AP

Aided by geographic isolation and borders that are rapidly and decisively closing, the Pacific remains least infected region on earth. But the isolation has been forced the devastated Pacific economy.

But there are significant fears that if the virus gains a foothold in the region, it could destroy island communities, which have a limited public health infrastructure – Vanuatu started a pandemic with only two ventilators across the country – and a population with high rates of comorbidity. , such as diabetes and heart disease.

Most of the remaining COVID-19-free countries on earth are in the Pacific, but this number is starting to dwindle, as repatriation flights bring displaced citizens home. In the past month, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Marshall Island, and Samoa has recorded its first confirmed infection.

Other Pacific Islands, like Guam and French Polynesia, had a large number of cases favored by the military and police deployments of the US and French colonial powers.

Small and remote island states and territories of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Norfolk Island, and Pitcairn Island are believed to be still virus free.

with the Associated Press


image source

All you need to know about the corona virus now | Instant News

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus now:

FILE PHOTOS: People sit as they arrive at the coronavirus testing center at Mugda Medical College and Hospital as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 2, 2020. REUTERS / Mohammad Ponir Hossain

The Australian vaccine candidate produces an antibody response

Initial testing of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Queensland and CSL Ltd has shown that the vaccine is safe and produces an antibody response, Health Secretary Greg Hunt said on Friday. Vaccine candidates will now begin the final testing phase, Hunt said.

“It does its job. That’s especially true for the elderly, and it’s a very important outcome, given the global vulnerability of older people around the world to COVID-19. “

If it passes that trial, Hunt said it could be ready for distribution in the third quarter of 2021. Australia has agreed to buy 51 million doses from a candidate being developed by the University of Queensland.

US and British ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus

Minority ethnic groups in the United States and Britain are disproportionately affected by the new coronavirus, with blacks and Asians at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to whites, according to an analysis published in the medical journal The Lancet.

About 18.7 million patients from 50 studies were recruited to establish the findings, the analysis said. Forty-two studies came from the United States and eight from the UK.

Minority ethnic groups are more likely to be employed as essential workers, and thus less able to work from home, the study said. That means they have more contact with other people through work or travel, exposing them to more infections. They are also more likely to have lower socioeconomic status, which can increase the likelihood of living in overcrowded homes, or accommodation with shared facilities, the findings suggest.

South Korea began fining people who broke the mask rule

South Korea will start fining people who do not wear masks in public on Friday for reporting 191 cases of the new coronavirus, with daily infections steadily increasing.

People caught without a mask in public areas, including nightclubs, malls, amusement parks, and hair salons, will be fined up to 100,000 won ($ 90), while the operators of those places can pay fines of up to 3 million won.

The country has been lauded for its response to the pandemic including aggressive testing and contact tracing, but has struggled to contain a small cluster outbreak, with daily cases hovering around 100 in recent weeks.

Check vaccine efficacy

In normal drug trials, for diseases such as end-stage cancer, the benefits of new drugs may be less pronounced, with the benefits of surviving just a few months sometimes revolutionary for patients on the brink of death.

For vaccines, however, marginal protection is inadequate, and the World Health Organization would ideally like to see at least 70% efficacy in trials, while the US Food and Drug Administration wants at least 50%.

The 90% efficacy reported in the Pfizer and Russian trials beat that, and appear to exceed the common cold vaccine, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates reduce disease risk by 40% -60%.

The provisional data are promising, as they seem to show that a vaccine can be effective at preventing COVID-19. However, the jump to mass vaccination presents new hurdles. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses, ideally 21 days apart. If people don’t follow the schedule, it can affect the efficacy of the vaccine.

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Edited by Lincoln Feast.


image source

Aboriginal names have a proud place in the Australian address | Instant News

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The Australia Post has supported a months-long campaign to add Aboriginal place names to addresses to recognize the country’s indigenous people and the traditional names of their lands.

Rachael McPhail, an Aboriginal woman, started a social media campaign in August to ask Australia Post to add traditional place names to postal addresses. He also started an online petition that received about 15,000 signatures.

“Every area on the continent that is now known as Australia has an original place name,” McPhail said in his petition.

“I am calling for place names to be part of the official address information in Australia, the same as postal codes and street names,” said McPhail, who started his campaign by posting photos of his letter with an Aboriginal name.

This week, the Australia Post updated its guidelines for sending and receiving mail, with a section on traditional place names “to recognize traditional custodians of land”.

Australia Post has “a long history of promoting and celebrating indigenous cultures and implementing measures that contribute to lasting reconciliation between Indigenous Australians and non-indigenous Australians”, a spokesman said on Thursday.

A visual example on the Australia Post website features the name McPhail and the traditional name Wiradjuri Country, for the territory in New South Wales where he lives.

Australia’s Aborigines were sacked when the continent was colonized by the British in the 18th century.

The country’s roughly 700,000 indigenous people track near the bottom in nearly every economic and social indicator.

Indigenous activists have long called for native land rights to be recognized, and return to names given by traditional landowners who can trace their lineage back 60,000 years, not those given by white settlers.

As protests over racial inequality swept across many parts of the world earlier this year, Australia saw a renewed push to rename buildings and places.

“It’s a way of acknowledging traditional owners and their ancestors, and recognizing that all these places have names that have been replaced by English names,” said Marcia Langton, a professor of indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne.

“I don’t see a reason why a place can’t have two names. This is happening all over the world as people break free from colonial heritage, ”he said, pointing to Mumbai which was formerly Bombay, and Beijing which was then Peking.

The push to restore original place names has worked in neighboring New Zealand, where many Maori place names have been restored, with other places having two names.

Earlier this year, companies including telecommunications company Vodafone pledged to use the country’s real name Aotearoa more frequently in their operations.

The Australia Post’s move “is an important first step towards decolonization”, said McPhail.

In a social media post, he said he would now lobby the Australia Post to consult with indigenous elders to create a “comprehensive database recording real place names before colonialism”.

Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran; Edited by Michael Taylor. Please appreciate the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity, covering the lives of people around the world who struggle to live free or fair. Visit news.trust.org


image source

Decarbonization of Our Shipping Industry | Instant News

Co-chaired by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Government of Fiji, the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership (PBSP) held its first virtual Ministerial Meeting last Thursday. Partnership is

Co-chair of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Fiji, at the First Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership Ministerial Meeting, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Shaheen Ali (right) and Ambassador of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Fiji, Tregar Albon Ishoda (second from right) November 5, 2020. Photo: Ministry of Trade, Trade, Tourism and Transportation.

Co-chaired by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Government of Fiji, the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership (PBSP) held its first virtual Ministerial Meeting last Thursday.

The Partnership is the first multi-country initiative that is expected to create new opportunities across the region in carbon-free ocean transportation.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Trade, Trade, Tourism and Transportation, Shaheen Ali and the RMI Ambassador to Fiji, Tregar Albon Ishoda.

First marked by the Prime Minister of Fiji and President of RMI at the One Planet Summit in New York, PBSP was confirmed in a special side event at the Climate Action Pacific Partnership (CAPP) in April 2019 with Ministers and government representatives of Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Tonga , Kiribati promised to support.

The partnership is designed to enable a large-scale, country-driven transition to sustainable, resilient and low-carbon marine transportation – targeted to accelerate the development of a 100 percent carbon-free domestic marine transport sector by 2050, including a 40 percent reduction. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deliveries by 2030.

The Permanent Secretary, in his opening statement, emphasized the importance of our oceans to the lives of Pacific peoples and that their intrinsic value cannot be underestimated. He further stated that it is our combined responsibility to protect our oceans and the Partnership will be a game changer for the Pacific, rapidly tracking the achievement of our ambitious targets for net zero emissions by 2050.

“Fiji is of the view that the Pacific vision of net zero emissions from the shipping industry will be achieved if, we are able to become an environmentally friendly and sustainable shipping center. We need a development partner not only to deliver the best technology and low emission vessels, but also to build capacity to build these ships locally. “

“We need to revive and grow our shipbuilding industry, not only to create jobs and sustainable livelihoods, but also to become more self-reliant,” said Ali.

Mr Ishoda, reinforces the Marshall Islands Republic’s commitment to the Partnership, by stating that as on land, we see the sea as a pathway to rural communities on the outer islands. “Our oceans are our collective legacy as Development partners”

In consultation with multilateral and bilateral development partners, PBSP is developing a mixed finance package in excess of US $ 500 million to enable an initial 10-year (2020-2030) work program focused on three main priorities.

This partnership involves the following;
1. Large-scale infrastructure transformation, including short-term ferry upgrades and
an ambitious project to improve port / jetty access for underserved residents around the area;

2. Small to medium enterprise development to ensure the private sector is adequately financed to meet regional sea transportation needs; and,

3. Capacity building, analysis and Research and Development efforts to achieve the Partnership’s long-term success for the region. So far, the 6 Pacific Island Nations have shown interest in this open coalition of Partnerships for the Pacific to become a hub for green and sustainable shipping.

Small Island Developing Countries. He further stated that having sustainable transportation will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, humanitarian efforts especially in the midst of natural occurrences that often occur, as well as assistance in overcoming COVID, “Ishoda added. This will require identifying key investments in critical areas of infrastructure development, investment financing, shipbuilding capacity, seafarer training and certification, and steps to meet the broader demand of Pacific Island States to enact an ambitious path of decarbonization for decades. to come.

“Fiji and RMI will jointly approach other Pacific Islands to join this initiative and share a vision to have zero carbon emissions in the maritime sector, across the Pacific, by 2050,” added Ali.

The meeting agreed that the co-chair would initiate the first round of discussions with development partners who had shown an interest in providing funding for state-run projects. To formalize the PBSP, the Parties are finalizing an Implementation Agreement and a Joint Statement to be signed by the Ministers.

Source: Ministry of Trade, Trade, Tourism and Transportation


image source

Remote Marshall Islands records its first coronavirus case | World News | Instant News

One of the last coronavirus-free shelters in the world has been breached, with the US military importing two Covid-19 cases to remote areas. Marshall Island.

The Marshalls have become one of the last countries on Earth – most of which are in the Pacific – without a single confirmed case of Covid-19.

But the chief secretary of state issued a warning late Wednesday saying the country’s first border case of the new coronavirus had been identified in two workers at the US military base on Kwajalein Atoll.

Two cases – a 35-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man, both asymptomatic – flew to Kwajalein Atoll direct from Honolulu.

The two cases are not epidemiologically linked and the two remain quarantined at the military base.

Marshalls’ national disaster committee said there was no threat of community transmission.

“Community members are asked to remain calm and look forward to the latest news.

“Since this is a border case and put in strict quarantine, it doesn’t require a national lockdown. Schools will continue to operate, shops and businesses will remain open and government operations will continue until further notice. “

The Marshalls closed its borders to all entries in March, but relaxed restrictions slightly in June to allow some people, mostly US military base workers, to submit to a three-week quarantine at the Kwajalein garrison.

French and US military and police deployments to French Polynesia and Guam is also the source of most of the Covid-19 outbreaks in these countries.

In French Polynesia, there has been an alarming spike in cases. The region has recorded 7,200 cases and 29 deaths, including three deaths in the past three days.

Cases have increased by 41% in the past week, and are now over 300 cases a day.

In Guam, where America’s Andersen air base has been linked to a large number of cases, warning hospitals set up tents in parking lots to treat Covid patients. overwhelmed ward. The patient waited more than three days for the bed to be available. Guam has recorded 4,466 cases and 76 deaths.

Pacific remains the least area infected with Covid on this planet, aided by remote geography and early and tight border closings. But the Pacific economy, which has been fragile and cut off from the outside world for months, is suffering terribly.

Globally, only small and remote island countries and territories of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are believed to be virus free.


image source