Nauru remains COVID-19 free, ensures testing systems work well

In this week’s situational update President Lionel Aingimea says Nauru remains coronavirus-free along with most of our Pacific neighbours, but sadly the virus is not slowing down in other parts of the world.

Australian media reports that the State of Victoria has recorded over 400 new cases daily over a few days with increased deaths, marking them as deadliest days in Australia since the pandemic began.

The president says there are a number of Nauruans living in Victoria and they are remembered during this time.

Papua New Guinea also recorded 23 new coronavirus cases over the weekend, taking their total number of active cases to 51.

At home, the 43 new passengers that arrived on Friday 24 July are in quarantine at the Meneñ Hotel and Canstruct Village.

Part of the successful work being carried by the Nauru health team in regards to coronavirus and protecting Nauru against it, is maintaining and ensuring the coronavirus testing systems are working and working well. This includes conducting periodic reviews of equipment and testing for quality control including sending away a sample from every batch of samples collected for independent testing in Melbourne, Australia.

Over the past few months, Nauru health has purchased and repaired medical equipment as part of its preparedness for the management and minimisation of the impacts of coronavirus – should it enter Nauru.

Once completed, the hospital’s acute block will be fully outfitted as a negative pressure ward. Negative pressure wards are equipped with environmental controls to reduce the risk of transmission of airborne diseases, or restrict the inside air from flowing outside.

Ninety three oxygen cylinders, sizes C, D, G (2.8, 10, 50 litres respectively) will be purchased by the health department and brought over via air and sea freight.

The RON hospital’s repaired oxygen plant means all oxygen cylinders and bottles can now be refilled on island, thus reducing the cost of sending away empty bottles to be refilled and sent back.

An oxygen compressor is also expected to arrive from Brisbane this weekend.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic Nauru’s call for assistance to prepare for COVID-19 has been significant. President Aingimea especially thanks the governments of Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand for their support.

The president acknowledged Taiwan’s excellent response to COVID-19 but also emphasised Australia’s continued and unwavering support to Nauru despite being deeply affected by the virus and deaths caused by COVID-19.

President Aingimea remarks that one knows their friends in times of trouble and need, as they are the ones that will come forward to offer their assistance.

Recent donations include a $50,000 funding from UNDP for personal protective equipment (PPE); 18 hospital beds and mattresses from Taiwan; and 29 ventilators in total expected to be donated – six of these are already on island, donated by Digicel and the Government of Taiwan, and 10 expected from USAid this weekend.

There is consideration to start the conversation with government departments on their emergency response plans for level two. Nauru has created two levels for its emergency plan. Currently Nauru is at level one which is zero cases for COVID-19.

The Nauru COVID-19 Taskforce is monitoring what is happening globally and is capturing advice from international medical authorities and will make decisions on any advancement in Nauru’s emergency plans as needed.

In border operations, Australia maintains a limit of 30 incoming passengers per flight which may cause some difficulty for Nauru passengers considering Canstruct purchases a large number of Nauru Airlines seats per flight leaving a very small opportunity for other passengers to secure a seat on the fortnightly Brisbane flight. Given this situation, an additional flight is being considered, by the government and Nauru Airlines to cater for this need.

The Nauru COVID-19 Taskforce is waiting for a response from Queensland health in regards to exempting travellers from Nauru going into quarantine on arrival in Brisbane – given that Nauru is a COVID-free county.

A new and revised travel advisory has been issued and it is requested that you travel to Nauru only if it is absolutely necessary.

All arrivals are subject to routine immigration, customs and quarantine checks as well and coronavirus testing.

Anyone travelling into Nauru must have spent a minimum of 14 days in any one or more of the following countries or territories immediately prior to travelling to Nauru:

Australia (excluding the State of Victoria in Australia until further notice. It is a geographically localised area with community transmission of COVID-19),  Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States), New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

On 27 July, the World Health Organisation recorded 16,114,449 (16.1 million) confirmed cases and 646,641 deaths in 216 countries, areas or territories.