A powerful cyclone that earlier this week hit Pacific Island nations bringing death, injuries and destruction cannot be allowed to disrupt containment efforts against the spread of COVID-19, officials in the region said.
Tropical Cyclone Harold, a Category 5 storm with winds in excess of 251kph, passed through the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga, cutting power and destroying tourist resorts.
Dozens of people were killed when they were swept off a ferry near the Solomon Islands.
Photo: EPA-EFE / Save the Children
Tonga’s government yesterday said that the island of ’Eua was without electricity and a number of houses were damaged, but no deaths had been reported.
Although no deaths were reported in Fiji, 26 people were injured and more than 6,000 people were evacuated from their homes during the storm.
“#CycloneHarold may be gone, but coronavirus is still in our midst,” Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said on Facebook. “We must all remain vigilant and keep to every public health directive we have in place.”
Although Fiji has just 15 coronavirus infections and no deaths, unnecessary gatherings of more than 20 people, among other curbs, have been banned and people urged to stay home.
The whole Pacific Island region has relatively few cases of COVID-19, but much of the area has restricted personal movement to slow any spread of the coronavirus.
Solomon Islands police imposed an evening curfew yesterday and today, restricting the movement of people. Fines of thousands of US dollars and imprisonment would apply for breaching the law.
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