The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE by His Excellency President Lionel Aingimea, MP

Wednesday, 12 January 2022


In today's update, His Excellency President Lionel Aingimea says as the world deals with the Delta and Omicron variants the New Year hasn't slowed the transmission rate of COVID-19. The number of cases in Australian major cities Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are rapidly escalating with one in three people testing positive to the virus.


The situation in Brisbane prompted the decision to temporarily suspend flights out of Australia to Nauru. The President says flights will however, come to Nauru with its crew from Brisbane and only take passengers from Nauru to Brisbane. No-one will disembark at Nauru.


We have travellers from Australia and Fiji but we first need to have protocols in place to protect us here in Nauru before we accept passengers from abroad.


Recently, the Nauru Government took steps to further protect Nauru from COVID. In consultation with the National COVID Taskforce this includes all incoming passengers entering pre-travel safe accommodation in Brisbane for three days prior to check in for their flight to Nauru. They will undergo COVID checks here and again at airport check in.


Last week two people tested positive during this process and as all passengers travelled on the same bus, all the passengers were denied boarding except for one passenger who was in a separate isolation facility.


This week the National COVID Taskforce tightened protocols in Brisbane whereby passengers were required to remain in their rooms. However, when the travellers were tested a second time, three people returned positive results.


Even keeping Nauru-bound passengers together in a group, they are still at risk of exposure as they enter Brisbane airport as airline check in staff also service other flights.


Protocols will be reviewed and reassessed as the situation unfolds.


At the moment the suspension of flights from Australia will go until the first week of February. Nauru's front line workers are doing well but more health care professionals are needed as well as the need to vaccinate our children before we reopen our borders.


Recruiting health care professionals is being fast tracked and protocols in place to ensure they are safe before entering Nauru so to minimise the risk as much as possible.


Increasing health staff capacity will better manage the situation should anyone test positive to COVID.


International flights are suspended until Nauru receives additional vaccines to enable vaccination of children 18 years and younger and ensure the hospital is equipped before borders reopen.


"If one of the two is lacking then we still cannot reopen flights. We have to tick both boxes. That's why it's important to vaccinate."


Nauru has achieved 97 per cent vaccination of the adult population (18 year and over) but the younger population, which represents 40 per cent, have not received one dose.


"These are our children.


"It's not good that they're [children] exposed and nothing being done to vaccinate them, yet allow travellers into Nauru."


Nauru Public Health is still expecting the Pfizer vaccine, facilitated through UNICEF, to vaccinate the under 18 year olds, as well as offer booster shots for the adult population.


"It wouldn't be right to bring in possible COVID-infected people and we're not prepared."


The President says science dictates that booster shots are good for the immune system bringing back up the level of protection to fight the virus.


President Lionel Aingimea thanks Australia for its ongoing and strong support during the pandemic; adding it rings true when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refers to the "Pacific Family".


"They've [Australia] been behind us; they've been side-by-side with us in our battle against COVID."


Australia funded most of our vaccinations including the last batch of 1,000 AstraZeneca vaccines. The next consignment, facilitated through UNICEF, is also funded by Australia.


"Australia has offered us much assistance and help all the way."


The Government is keeping in touch with Nauruans abroad, especially where the large populations are and where we have embassies, most especially those in Australia and Fiji where COVID is rapidly spreading.


Unfortunately, there are Nauruans in Fiji and Australia that have contracted COVID.


The rapid spread of COVID has reached the point where it is unavoidable if you are in a place where COVID is spreading.


President Aingimea reiterates that one in three people will get COVID. "That's the statistics."


COVID numbers continue to rise and those people living in those places must be extra careful.


President Aingimea urges Nauruans to stay strong and to place our trust in the Lord. Although Nauru is COVID-free, the government, Taskforce and front line workers are working hard and endeavouring to keep Nauru safe.