The Republic of Palau, a small country on the Pacific Ocean, announced its first two covid-19 cases this weekend. With that, the country leaves the strict list of nations that are still free from the disease.
The cases are imported, from two people who returned to the island and tested positive. They had traveled to Guam and are in isolation, as are those they came into contact with. The contagions, however, should not spread quickly because, in addition to isolation, the population of around 18 thousand inhabitants is already 80% fully vaccinated.
“We ask everyone to remain calm,” says the Ministry of Health in a statement. The president, Surangel Whipps, also spoke out and said that “the island is no longer ‘Covid free’, but it is, of course, ‘Covid safe”.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are now only 13 nations in the world that have not reported any cases of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. However, two of them raise doubts about the transparency of the cases due to their dictatorial governments: North Korea and Turkmenistan.
The remaining 11 tend to have true data, as in Tonga, Cook Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Tuvalu and Kiribati. Almost all of them are isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean that, despite being very touristy, have taken tough measures of lockdown and control through tests.
The fear of governments has always been the collapse of the health system in case of intense dissemination, as the infrastructure is small and the distance to other more developed nations is great.
This is the case of Palau itself, which has closed international borders even though it is extremely dependent on tourism.
In October last year, a first opening was made with Taiwan, which also maintains good pandemic control.