Pacific news in brief for July 19

Niue isolate hospital staff; Publication of the Pacific Islands Forum summit communiqué; another figure of the independence of New Caledonia rejects the Paris talks; and more.

Foou Hospital in Niue
Photo: Supplied/Dr. Penny McAllum

Niue hospital staff isolate themselves, border cases rise to 29

Niue Foou Hospital has been identified as a place of interest due to links to Covid-19 infections.

The Niue government said some close contacts identified at the hospital were staff members.

They were removed from their posts and isolated.

The number of Covid-19 cases recorded at the border since March stood at 29 on Tuesday. There were two new cases, making a total of six active cases.

The hospital remained open.

Self-isolating staff would be regularly tested and could return to work after medical clearance.

Release of the Pacific Islands Forum summit communiqué

The Pacific Islands Forum today released the official Leaders’ Meeting Communique.

The statement of results was endorsed by 16 Pacific nations, except Kiribati, which left the forum summit, and the Marshall Islands.

The Marshall Islands did not attend the annual meeting due to a domestic political stalemate that prevented them from participating in the forum summit.

Leaders and representatives of countries attending the Suva summit said the region faces a climate emergency.

US donates Covid-19 vaccines to Kiribati

The United States has donated nearly 20,000 Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to Kiribati.

The virus has spread rapidly within the community of the small island nation.

This shipment was the second installment of a total of 53,820 Pfizer doses pledged by the United States and donated under the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.

New Caledonia’s Palika party rejects French plans for talks in Paris

The Palika independence party of New Caledonia has joined the Caledonian Union in rejecting the talks announced by the French Interior Ministry and which are to be held in Paris in September.

The ministry has convened a meeting of signatories to the 1998 Noumea Accord as France plans to draw up a new status for New Caledonia, following last December’s referendum which saw a majority of voters choose to stay French.

Palika spokesman Charles Washetine said the French state had abandoned any notion of impartiality and wanted to impose such talks under pressure from the political right.

Union Caledonienne leader Daniel Goa said his side would not go to Paris, calling the proposed talks a deception and adding that if talks were to take place, they should be held in New Caledonia and on ways to give the territory its sovereignty.

He also said that all talks would be bilateral between his side and Paris, meaning they would not involve New Caledonia’s anti-independence parties.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had earlier announced a visit to Noumea before the end of next week, but the trip was reportedly canceled until after talks in September.

The anti-independence camp welcomed the talks proposed by Darmanin to conclude the process provided for by the Nouméa agreement.

Planned US embassy in Tonga will facilitate travel

Plans to establish a US embassy in Tonga have brought relief to many Tongans traveling to the United States.

A United States Embassy in Tonga meant that travelers would no longer be required to submit visa applications to the United States Embassy in Fiji.

Retired Tongan MP Lord Fusitu’a said the move would bring huge relief to families wishing to visit relatives in the United States, where more than 70,000 members of the Tongan diaspora live.