New Zealand-Pacific bubble could be on cards next if trans-Tasman travel goes well

COVID-19 Updates from the Pacific

Wellington, NEW ZEALAND -May 18, 2020: 5pm (TVNZ): A New Zealand-Pacific bubble could be on the cards after a trans-Tasman bubble’s been established, but the Prime Minister said she wants to be particularly careful about the travel option given many parts of the Pacific are still free of Covid-19.

Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning there were also concerns given the measles outbreak in the Pacific.

“When we raised the issue of Trans-Tasman, we did say that the next potential area could be the Pacific,” she said. “I do want to make sure, though, that we do that really in close contact with them.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we had a terrible outbreak of measles in Samoa, and so we want to make sure that whatever we do that there is really support and agreement from our Pacific neighbours to progress with something like that because no one wants to carry the burden of Covid going into areas which at the moment are Covid-free.”

As for an Australia-New Zealand bubble, Ardern said both countries were “working away” on making it happen.

“We want to make sure both countries are in a position to open up our borders to one-another, that we’re ready to go.

“What we’re both waiting for is for us to feel like we’ve got our health response right, that we’ve got the virus under control in both our countries, and that we’re not risking spreading to one-another.

“In the meantime, we’re doing work around what our borders should look like and border controls, extra things we can put in place to be doubly sure.

“And then our hope is eventually you’ll see movement between our two countries, even if it’s not happening elsewhere, without quarantine so that you don’t have to go over to the Gold Coast and spend two weeks in quarantine before you can have your holiday,” she said.

New Zealand joins Australia on COVID-19 origin probe

Wellington/Canberra – (RNZ PACIFIC/ABC): New Zealand is part of a coalition of 62 countries backing an Australian push for an investigation into the origin of the Covid-19 outbreak in China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she didn’t believe there was any blame to be laid, but the international community was right to be asking questions, she told Morning Report.

“We have agreed that we should look at these key learnings,” Ardern said.

“The idea that this one-in-100-year event that has caused global economic shock, has had a devastating impact on the health systems and the lives and livelihoods of people around the world – the idea that we wouldn’t want to look at that and learn from that seems surprising to me. Of course, we would.

“We’re not interested in this for blame, we’re interested in it for learning.”

She reiterated the government’s stance that Taiwan should have observer status at the World Health Organisation (WHO), “however that does not change the position we’ve had since 1972 around the one-China policy”.

A coalition of 62 countries has backed a joint Australian and European Union push for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak ahead of a crucial World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting on Monday in Geneva.

The Morrison Government has now swung its diplomatic firepower behind the European Union, which has also been pressing for an investigation while taking a more conciliatory line with Beijing.

European nations and Australia have been rallying support for a draft EU motion which calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of “the WHO-coordinated international health response to Covid-19”.

As of Sunday evening, Canberra time, 62 nations – including Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom – had backed the motion.

The motion does not specifically mention China or the city of Wuhan where the outbreak is believed to have begun.

At this stage, neither China nor the US have backed the motion.

EU foreign affairs spokesperson Virginie Battu-Henriksson said the organisation was focused on reaching a consensus for an inquiry.

“Of course, we need to have the support of all the major players, and China is one of them,” she told the ABC.

Meanwhile, US diplomats have been pressing for tougher language that specifically calls for a probe into how the virus started in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both furiously denounced China’s initial response to the virus, accusing it of covering up the initial outbreak and allowing it to spread around the world.

Two new Covid-19 cases in CNMI

Saipan – (MARIANAS VARIETY): The CNMI governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp has announced that two additional people have been recently confirmed to have contracted Covid-19.

These cases were identified through contact tracing, are in stable condition, and are safely isolated at Kanoa Resort. The cases are being closely monitored by CHCC medical teams. CHCC has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts (close family members, friends, and associates) of these new confirmed cases.

The two new Covid-19 cases are a 31-year-old male and a 22-year-old female, asymptomatic, and are contacts of previously diagnosed Covid-19 cases who reside in the CNMI. Specimens were collected, processed, and confirmed positive at CHCC Laboratory on Saturday.

Even if you’ve tested negative for the virus, or have already been infected with the virus and recovered, it is essential for everyone in the community to continue to practice strict social distancing, and avoid public places as much as possible.

The CNMI’s Covid-19 count is now at 21 with seven active cases, 12 recoveries, and two deaths.

The governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and CHCC continue to encourage residents within the Marianas to practice social distancing, which means avoiding close contact with people in order to avoid catching the virus yourself and to avoid passing it on to others.

Taiwan donates 1,000 face masks and 500 pairs of protective gloves to Fiji media

Suva –  (TAIWAN EMBASSY): Taiwan government, representative Jessica Lee of Taipei Trade Office in Fiji handed over 1,000 facemasks and 500pairs of protective gloves to Makereta Komai, manager and editor of Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) on Friday, May 15.

Journalists do not stop their jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak and they work hard to conduct daily reporting. For protecting Fiji media workers from contracting diseases, Komai of PINA was seeking assistance for her colleagues, and Taipei Trade Office answered the call.

According to the arrangement, this batch of personal protective equipment will be distributed to local media such as Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Fiji TV, FBC News, PINA, and etc.

Komai received the donation on behalf of the Fijian Media Association and PINA.

“FMA and PINA is grateful to the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji for responding positively to our request. This is a timely assistance for the Fiji media particularly for the journalists who are at front line covering COVID-19 stories. This is the first time that FMA has received an assistance from the Taiwan government. We look forward to further cooperation between FMA and Taipei Trade Office in Fiji,” said Komai.

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