For the First Time, COVID-19 Spreads Like Wildfire in a Remote Pacific Country

3 mins read

Up until a week ago, the Marshall Islands hadn’t documented any community transmission of COVID.

One of the last countries in the world to escape COVID-19 untouched was the Marshall Islands, but that is no longer the case. Infections are reportedly spreading like wildfire in the small population of the isolated Pacific nation, which has experienced an unprecedented spike in cases.

On August 8, 2022, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) announced the first community spread of COVID-19, according to a news release issued by Jack Niedenthal, the health minister, who found he was the 11th case on the islands.

The RMI had 3,036 cases total as of August 15; 571 of those cases had been reported in the previous day. In addition, there have been 2 fatalities and 7 hospitalizations. The actual number of new cases is probably even higher because of reporting hiccups over the weekend, according to Niedenthal.

In Majuro, the capital and largest city of the Marshall Islands, where just under half of the population lives, the vast majority of infections have been discovered.

On August 10, Niedenthal stated, “We have reports of illness on some other islands, but they are not confirmed as COVID cases. We are attempting to handle this, but the focus is on Majuro where we are under siege by the disease.

One of the first nations to close their borders in response to COVID-19 was the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which on March 8, 2020, prohibited inbound planes even before the World Health Organization issued a pandemic declaration.

This hard-line approach has been successful for a while. The Marshall Islands had only a few COVID-19 cases up until last month, but they were brought from abroad and there was no proof of community transmission. The origins of the ongoing outbreak on the islands are yet unknown.

There are about 62,000 people living in the Marshall Islands. Fortunately, more than 70% of people have had a COVID-19 vaccination. However, the sheer volume of cases in such a short period of time is severely taxing the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

83 medical personnel in Majuro hospitals contracted COVID-19 last week. This circumstance compelled the nation, like many others, to recall hospital staff who had COVID-19, providing they weren’t too ill to work.

“What we are seeing in Majuro is similar to what we saw in all of the other nations that experienced this outbreak before us. Long lines, confusion, arguments among people, panic, dissatisfaction, turmoil, extreme stress that leads to arguments among family and friends, and of course, illnesses,” Niedenthal continued.

“All countries in the globe have suffered all of these evils linked with this disease, and once it gets into a country no one is exempt from them.”

Ali Esen

Istanbul University, Department of Mathematics. Interested in science and technology.

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