COVID-19: first cases in New Caledonia, French territory so far spared

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Nine first cases of COVID-19 were detected on Sunday in New Caledonia, and strict confinement of two weeks was immediately declared in this French territory in the South Pacific, one of the few on the planet having not been affected until ‘here by COVID-19.

These cases were identified during investigations carried out due to the detection, the day before, of the first indigenous case in the archipelago of Wallis-and-Futuna, another French archipelago located 2,200 km further east.

Until now, New Caledonia was, along with Wallis and Futuna, among the few territories in the world not to have recorded a case of COVID-19, thanks in particular to compulsory fortnights in requisitioned hotels for anyone arriving there. Only imported cases of the disease had been counted.

There is a health bubble between the two territories, so that travelers circulate freely. In the current state of investigations, the authorities do not know how the virus entered Wallis and Futuna.

“According to the first elements, the patient [à Wallis-et-Futuna] would have developed symptoms in mid-February, and could thus have been contaminated in Wallis-and-Futuna from the end of January, ”Thierry Santa, president of the Caledonian government, told reporters.

This patient, who would be a college official, is in serious condition and could be evacuated to the hospital in Nouméa, capital of New Caledonia, we learned from corroborating sources.

“This is a person who was out of fortnight several weeks ago after a negative test. This person consulted a doctor because of symptoms and was declared positive, which means that the virus is circulating on the island, ”Hervé Jonathan, senior administrator, told AFP on Sunday. [représentant de l’État] of Wallis and Futuna.

Thierry Santa asked “to all the people who came back from Wallis-and-Futuna [en Nouvelle-Calédonie] since January 25th to isolate oneself and to report oneself by calling the 15th ” [numéro d’appel d’urgence].

Mr. Santa also announced “a strict containment of the population from Monday evening for two weeks, with the clear objective of breaking the transmission of the virus while there is still time”.

Details of the containment measures will be presented Monday today, but local authorities have already indicated that all schools will be closed and all non-essential activities prohibited.

While 5,210 people received a first dose of vaccine and 1603 the two doses, Mr. Santa pledged “to accelerate the campaign, the only way to protect himself and to protect the others”.

According to a health survey published in 2020, more than 70% of the approximately 11,000 inhabitants of the Wallis and Futuna Islands are suffering from obesity, and diabetes is also reaching record levels, making the population particularly vulnerable if the virus were to spread.