COVID-19: Pacific Community Updates

Noumea

This page will be regularly updated as new information is received 


The COVID-19 (COrona VIrus Disease 2019) outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. Globally, nations are taking actions to reduce and control the spread of the virus. 

For information on global efforts to manage this outbreak, visit the WHO website for current situation reports on COVID-19: (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports)


Current Status in the Pacific: 24 November

As of 24 November 2020, 10 countries (Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna) in the PICTs have reported 20,386 cases and 180 deaths, with a case fatality proportion of 0.9%

  • Between 17 and 24 November 2020, 1715 new cases (3 in RMI; 2 in New Caledonia; 1 in CNMI; 1,272 in French Polynesia; 427 in Guam and 10 in PNG) and 18 new deaths (10 in French Polynesia and 8 in Guam) were confirmed in the PICTs.
  • Solomon Islands has not reported a new case in the past 14 days.
  • RMI, Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, French Polynesia, PNG, CNMI and Guam have reported new cases in the past 14 days.
  • Australia: Since late-September 2020, a low number of new cases continue to be reported each day.
  • New Zealand: There are currently 52 active cases (including 4 community cases).
  • Hawaii: Cases are decreasing, community transmission is ongoing.

For further information on specific countries in the Pacific contact the respective government authorities. 

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 Cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the PICTs, 11 November 2020
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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Pacific as of 24 November 2020
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Regional Challenges

COVID-19 represents a significant challenge for the region. The Pacific Community (SPC), as the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) lead in public health, has taken all necessary measures to help address the spread of COVID-19. This includes the adoption of a response framework aimed at supporting staff well-being and business continuity while supporting an efficient regional response to the pandemic.

Which are the main risk areas for PICTs?

  • In most of the PICTs, access to quality health services is limited, due to a lack of infrastructure, equipment, and qualified personnel. In the current situation, this can pose a problem of access to care if the number of infected people increases.
  • Most PICTs do not have the needed laboratory equipment to analyse the tests on site, which creates difficulties in identifying cases. The test samples have to be sent to other countries for analysis.
  • Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) are frequented by tourists. This represents a risk due to the movement of people to and from PICTs (although restrictive measures have been put in place); and also a risk for the local economies.

Pacific Community Response 

What is SPC doing to help its member countries and territories deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic?

SPC is supporting PICTs preparedness and their responses to COVID-19 through public health surveillance, infection prevention and control, risk communication, disaster management, humanitarian response, statistics, educational assessment, data custodianship and GIS mapping.

  • SPC is part of the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C), providing regional leadership, direction and coordination to enable the provision of medical and humanitarian assistance from regional and international organisations in a timely, safe, effective and equitable manner. 
  • SPC is part of the World Health Organization (WHO)-led multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT).
  • Along with its partners, SPC also implements all relevant preparedness activities to help its members manage the risks associated with the virus including;
    • The deployment of staff to do in-country training on COVID-19 case identification, contact tracing, case investigation, outbreak management;
    • The deployment of staff to do in-country assessment and training on infection control.
    • Provision of funding for laboratory sample shipment and testing, in order to help its members identify potential cases and respond accordingly.
    • Coordination of the procurement process for point-of-care test (BD Veritor System) to allow in-country confirmation of influenza cases, thereby facilitating proper case management.
  • SPC is the focal point of the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN). PPHSN includes six services to prevent and respond to epidemics. These include coordination of laboratory services, surveillance systems, infection control, alert and communication, knowledge exchange and capacity building. 
  • SPC continues to coordinate the implementation of the Strengthening Health Interventions in the Pacific (SHIP) programme, to develop and strengthen competencies in epidemiology, surveillance, outbreak investigation and management, risk communication and reporting.

What is SPC doing to protect its staff?

  • SPC has activated a Security Management Group, in order to assess potential impacts and consequences of COVID-19 in SPC premises, prepare and respond appropriately to mitigate these risks, and communicate timely and helpful information to all staff of the organization and its members.
  • SPC has implemented a wide range of measures to limit the spread of the virus, such as limiting non-essential travel and postponing events and meetings and offering work from home options.
  • Bi-weekly staff communication with health and travel advisories are circulated directly to staff members (in English and French language) and made available online.

 


FAQ's, Resources & Tips

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Division
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Public Health Division (PHD)

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