Pacific islands Wallis and Futuna branded Covid-19 free

MATA-UTU (AFP) – The Pacific archipelago of Wallis and Futuna has declared itself Covid-free, with no cases among the French remote island’s 11,500 inhabitants since April 1, authorities said.

Many remote Pacific island nations have remained free of the virus after shutting the borders soon after the pandemic began but the risk of an outbreak remains high.

The French overseas collectivity’s administrator superior said Thursday (July 15) it is “unanimously… free of circulation of the Covid-19 virus”.

But mask-wearing in public spaces remains mandatory and authorities reminded residents that vaccination was “the only way to get out of the epidemic for good”.

So far 41 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated and over 55 per cent have received one shot.

Experts have warned that Pacific islands are vulnerable to fresh outbreaks.

Fiji, which managed 12 months without community transmission, has suffered a virus surge since April.

With daily cases exceeding 1,200 on Thursday, experts have said Fiji represents a grim case study in how quickly the Delta variant can spread among island populations.

Wallis and Futuna recorded 445 coronavirus cases between March and April with seven deaths.

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