Remote Marshall Islands records first confirmed cases of Coronavirus: Coronavirus Updates: NPR

Remote Marshall Islands records first confirmed cases of Coronavirus: Coronavirus Updates: NPR

Two people from the United States have tested positive for coronavirus in the Marshall Islands, as shown here in 2017.

Nicole Evatt / AP


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Nicole Evatt / AP

Two people from the United States have tested positive for coronavirus in the Marshall Islands, as shown here in 2017.

Nicole Evatt / AP

The Marshall Islands, a group of volcanic islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean, closed their borders in March to ward off the coronavirus.

At the time, the government said the islands were already dealing with outbreaks of dengue fever and a “flu-like disease”.

The government said at the time: “One case of COVID-19 would be catastrophic for the health system.”

On Wednesday, the government announced that two workers from the United States had tested positive for the Coronavirus at a US military base in Kwajalein Atoll. The two cases ended the operation of The Marshalls as one of the few countries in the world with no cases of coronavirus.

The two, a 35-year-old and 46-year-old woman, arrived on a military flight from Hawaii on Tuesday. The government said the two did not interact with community members, and both did not show symptoms when they tested positive.

“We can assure the public that these are purely border cases, and they were discovered while these people were in quarantine, as they remained until this time,” the government said.

She added that there is no immediate risk of the virus spreading.

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Islands in the South Pacific were generally quick to isolate themselves during the onset of the epidemic, leaving the majority of these islands intact.

The remote island states of Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are still believed to be free of the virus.

Solomon Islands recorded its first case of coronavirus in early October.

In June, the Marshalls eased restrictions slightly, allowing US military base workers to enter but requiring a three-week quarantine, according to the Guardian.

Eppon Atoll Mayor Mary Davis Milne has criticized the easing of restrictions at the border.

“What we worried about has come to pass,” Milne said on Facebook Wednesday. “Spirits will be delayed because a bunch of people made the decisions they made for whatever reason they made.”

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