New Caledonia appeals to all medical staff to help combat covid-19 outbreak

Noumea swab tests for covid-19
New Caledonians being swab tested in Noumea for covid-19 as medical staff try to deal with a sudden outbreak this week. Image: TVOne NC

RNZ Pacific

The New Caledonian government has appealed to all medical and paramedical staff, including veterinarians, to help in the fight against covid-19.

Sixty-six cases have been recorded since the community outbreak was first detected on Monday and a lockdown was ordered from Tuesday.

There are seven people in intensive care with two in a serious condition.

France has declared a state of emergency in both New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

The positive covid cases range in age from 20 to 80 and while some are in Noumea hospital, others are in hotels set aside for quarantine.

The virus has been detected across the main island and in the Loyalty Islands — Lifou in particular.

So far about a dozen clusters have been identified, with contacts being asked to isolate and get tested.

A maximum of 800 tests a day can be done, which means that only people with symptoms are advised to get one.

Vaccinations are being stepped up as only about a third of the population of 288,000 has been inoculated so far.

Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes 100921
Today’s front page news of the covid-19 outbreak “explosion” in New Caledonia. Image: Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes

The president of the customary Senate, Yvon Kona, was among those people being vaccinated today and he urged the public to get vaccinated.

Before Monday’s outbreak, New Caledonia had recorded fewer than 140 covid-19 cases in total.

In French Polynesia, a further 13 people have died of covid-19, raising the death toll to 535.

The health ministry said 311 covid-19 patients eere in hospital and 54 of them in intensive care.

Case numbers are no longer compiled and released by the authorities who said they would be inaccurate as many people carried out self-tests.

Most of the territory is in a four-week lockdown and curfews are in place to slow the spread of the virus.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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