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Remote island nation grapples with first COVID surge

As the Pacific nation struggles with the first pandemic outbreak, COVID cases are rising in the Marshall Islands.

There had not been any transmissions in the island group that is approximately 2,500 miles southwest from Hawaii and 3,000 feet east of the Philippines before the current wave.

Jack Niedenthal, the health minister, posted a Facebook post stating that 75% of those who were tested on Majuro’s main island returned a positive result.

Around 60 cases of the pandemic were reported in Marshall Islands before the current outbreak.

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More than 3,000 people have now tested positive. In fact, over 1,000 people were positive within the last 24 hours.

As weekend reporting rates are lower, the true numbers may be higher.

According to the health minister, seven people were admitted and two died.

More information on Covid-19

According to records, the population of the islands amounts to close to 60,000 people. The vaccination rate is around 70%.

Niedenthal claims that the immunisation rate in reality is closer to 85% because of the decline in population over the past decade.

Patients are advised to seek medical treatment only if they have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, confusion, or a high fever.

Mild symptoms should be treated with paracetamol and rest.

Niedenthal said that a lockdown is unlikely and suggested that “some are suggesting lockdowns.”

“Lockdowns with the Omicron BA.5 variant are not effective,” says Williams.

This is a fact that we know, and both historical evidence as well as scientific evidence supports it. We have discovered that this variant burned through [Federated State of Micronesia] three-times faster than what the CDC model originally predicted.

“This is because most people in Micronesia live in homes with several family members.”

He said that cases are likely to burn out in a month.

The Marshall Islands have maintained their COVID-free status for the past two decades by restricting access to overseas.

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According to the UK’s Foreign Office, the official advice is: “A total suspension continues of international travelers coming to Marshall Islands and commercial flights to and fro the islands remains very limited.” A few repatriation flights are available.

To help manage the outbreak, two experts from the United States Centers for Disease Control have been dispatched to the islands.

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