Even tiny Pacific islands cannot escape covid-19

Mar 19, 2020

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REMOTE AND pristine, the tiny island nations of the Pacific are often the object of apocalypse-proofing fantasies. But if you think they are in any state to ride out covid-19, dream on.

Many Pacific jurisdictions have thrown up barriers to the new coronavirus. In late January the Federated States of Micronesia banned entry to travellers from countries with confirmed cases. The Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Tonga and Vanuatu have banned cruise ships. Anyone coming to Samoa has had to produce a medical certificate. In early March the Marshall Islands sealed itself off, banning all inbound visitors. Even supply vessels must wait 14 days at sea before berthing.

The economic cost will be devastating. The island states import nearly everything. Moreover, tourism is the main earner for many. Fiji had a full-blown fiscal crisis even before empty hotels removed a big source of revenue. The Northern...

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