Global News

Micronesia’s first COVID-19 outbreak sees steep rise in cases

Micronesia’s first outbreak of COVID-19 has grown in one week to over 1,000 cases, causing significant alarm in the Pacific Island nation.
Last week, Micronesia became the final nation in the world with a population of more than 100,000 to experience an outbreak of COVID-19 after avoiding it for over two years, thanks to geographic isolation and border controls.
Individuals who flew into the country with COVID-19 were unable to spread the disease, as all new arrivals were required to quarantine.
Micronesia is an island country consisting of four states spread across the western Pacific, around 2,900km (1,802 miles) north of eastern Australia. Health officials of the Pacific Island nation have reported that cases are rapidly increasing. As of 2 August, there were over 6,000 cases of the virus, with 11 deaths.
The last week of July saw over 1,200 positive cases, including some cases caught at the border prior to the outbreak.
Several top politicians and senior officials have caught the disease, including Vice President Yosiwo George, who has been admitted to hospital. Officials have shared that his condition is improving. The initial outbreak arrived less than two weeks before Micronesia planned to end its quarantine restrictions and reopen its international borders on 1 August.
Last year, Micronesia became one of the few countries to impose a broad mandate which requires all eligible citizens get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The government threatened to withhold federal funds from any individuals or business owners who refused vaccination. Health officials have shared that 75% of people aged 5 and over were fully vaccinated. 
Elsewhere in the Pacific, the Omicron variant has spread the virus to several small nations for the first time this year, including Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, and Nauru.