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Samoa, Kiribati to lockdown as virus lands in Pacific

SYDNEY (AFP) – Kiribati and Samoa entered lockdowns yesterday after overseas arrivals brought COVID to the Pacific island nations that had avoided the worst of the pandemic for two years.

Until this month, Kiribati hadn’t reported a single virus case, while Samoa had only recorded two since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

But authorities in both countries have been forced to put in place stay-at-home orders after the virus was detected in international arrivals.

Dozens of passengers on a flight to Kiribati from Fiji – the first to arrive in the nation since borders re-opened – tested positive for the virus.

And in Samoa, the restrictions were triggered after cases linked to a repatriation flight from Brisbane rose to 15, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said.

The restrictions will lift tomorrow night and all current cases – believed to be infected with the Omicron variant – are in quarantine, she added.

Kiribati’s leader said the capital – home to almost half of the country’s 120,000 population – would be placed under the restrictions after recording its first community cases.

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