Covid-19 has reached one of the last uninfected places on Earth

Kiribati joined neighbouring Samoa by announcing a lockdown

Kiribati and several other small Pacific nations were among the last on the planet to have avoided any virus outbreaks, thanks to their remote locations and strict border controls. AP

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The Pacific island naiton of Kiribati was among the last places on Earth to have avoided a Covid-19 outbreak, thanks to its remote location and strict border controls.

But the small island nation began its first Covid-19 lockdown this weekend after dodging the disease for two years.

This month, the nation of 120,000 people reported its first case, 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 reopened, tested positive for the virus.

Neighbouring Samoa also locked down after cases linked to a repatriation flight from Brisbane rose to 15, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said.

Until last week it had registered only two cases since the disease broke out in winter 2019.

She said the restrictions would be lifted on Monday night and that everyone who had tested positive was in quarantine.

All of the cases are believed to be of the Omicron variant, she said.

Kiribati’s leader said the capital would be placed under the restrictions after recording its first community cases.

“There is now an assumption that Covid-19 is now spreading in the community,” President Taneti Maamau said on Facebook.

People were told they must stay at home unless they need to obtain essential goods or services, such as food or health care.

President Maamau did not say how long the lockdown would last.

About 62 per cent of Samoans are fully vaccinated, in contrast to about 34 per cent of Kiribati’s population, according to WHO data.

Updated: January 28, 2022, 5:07 AM