COVID19 and Its Impact on Pacific Island States
Regional efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 have so far proven successful. Image Credit: Pacific CommunityBy William W. EllisTORONTO, May 29 2020 (IPS) By now, the impact of COVID19 on our daily lives has been well documented, especially in advanced economies. Anxiety about the future continues to grow everywhere. Much of the corporate news coverage we consume has focused on the toll this pandemic will take on mainland countries. Often neglected, however, is the unique position Pacific Island States find themselves in. Globally, there are close to 6 million confirmed cases of COVID19. According to the Pacific Community (SPC), there are 292 cases of the virus across its membership – a truly small number, considering Papua New Guinea’s population of 8.6 million people. Indeed, many of the SPC’s members are seemingly untouched by the global pandemic – as of May 6th, for example, American Samoa had no cases of the virus at all. Despite the current picture, the Pacific Islands share unique challenges. Small in size, geographically remote, vulnerable to extreme environmental shock, and limited in economies of scale, these islands could be devastated by COVID19. Over 80% of Papua New Guinea’s population, for example, reside in rural regions where health care infrastructure is limited. Clinics frequently run out of supplies and 4,000 nurses recently went on strike due to a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). In the outer islands and in r...
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