Kiribati to start Covid-19 vaccination rollout

Upon receiving the vaccines on Tuesday the Kiribati health minister Tinte Itinteang said vaccinations would begin this week.

The rollout is to start in the densely populated South Tarawa districts of Betio and the Teinainano Urban Council which stretches from Bairiki to Tanaea.

Dr Itinteang said 12,000 more doses of the vaccine were expected in a month's time.

The country has no community cases of Covid-19 but last week two cases of Covid-19 were identified aboard a Taiwanese fishing carrier anchored in the Tarawa lagoon.

Curfew imposed in Kiribati after COVID discoveries

The cases were identified on Monday and the ship has been quarantined for at least 14 days.

One of the fishermen who tested positive is i-Kiribati and the other a foreigner.

The i-Kiribati fisherman was returning home after completing a yearlong contract aboard a Taiwanese purse seiner, his last port-of-call before travelling to Kiribati was Papua New Guinea a month ago.

Before reaching Tarawa he transferred from the purse seiner to a carrier vessel or mothership, belonging to the same company, which is the vessel that is now under quarantine off of Tarawa.

Kiribati records second case of COVID-19

There are now two local seafarers quarantined offshore.

Curfew begins today from 9pm-6am Friday. 

Emergency alert now up from 1 to 3, masks mandatory and social gatherings banned.

Meanwhile, the Kiribati Catholic Church has told its members on South Tarawa and Betio to cease all gatherings and fundraising activities to support Government’s efforts in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The Church’s Vicar General told Radio Kiribati News members are also required to wear face masks and practice social distancing during church masses.

WFP’S Pacific Humanitarian Air Service flies vital medical supplies to Kiribati

The air delivery demonstrates WFP’s continued support to the COVID-19 response in the region.

On 22 April, the Government of Kiribati raised an urgent request for intravenous (IV) fluids which was about to run out in its hospitals.

WFP responded immediately - together with the Australian Government who procured 6 metric tonnes of IV fluid within 24 hours.

The supplies were delivered by WFP to Tarawa via Nadi using WFP’s humanitarian flight, along with medical supplies from UNICEF and WHO.

Kiribati Banaba island struggles with drought

There have been reports that the remote island was facing a water crisis, with empty tanks and two desalination machines out of action.

Pelenise Alofa said Banaba had no natural water source and islanders usually relied on rain water, but there hadn't been any in six months.

She said food crops like pumpkin and tapioca were dying.

"There hasn't been any rain.

Micronesian leaders united in decision to withdraw from Forum

Palau has already commenced with the process.  

A statement released today said the five Presidents of Micronesia will honour the Mekreos Communique and withdraw from the Forum as stated in a joint communique released also released today.

The leaders of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati and the Republic of the Marshall Islands met virtually yesterday (Monday).

According to the statement, Nauru President Lionel Aingimea “believes the Forum has lost its original intent to be a regional body and what the Forum was originally set up to do.”

NZ Orion finds two fishing boats missing off Tarawa

The two boats, which had been reported as missing separately, were found in quick succession.

There were four survivors but one person had died.

The search and rescue operation was coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji after initial search efforts by Kiribati authorities failed.

The Orion was initially searching for a five-metre wooden fishing vessel, which had gone missing between Tarawa and Maiana Islands and had last been seen on 30 October.

The crew were later asked to also look for a smaller aluminium boat, 72 nautical miles west of Tarawa.

NZ Pacific Language Weeks now include Kiribati

He said the government is strongly committed to growing and supporting the Pacific language weeks, and with $NZ20 million in funding his ministry has been able to include funding support to the Kiribati and Rotuman communities this year.

He said "one of the key tasks of the Pacific Language Unit is to work closely with Pacific communities of Aotearoa to ensure their languages are celebrated, taught and thrives through future generations to come."

Fourteen new MPs elected in Kiribati

The second of two rounds of voting took place this week.

Four women have also made Kiribati history by winning seats, the highest number of women in parliament so far.

Most of the ministers in the current caretaker government have kept their seats, including President Taneti Maamau, however it was too early to say whether he would be his party's nomination for President again.

His TKP party had the majority of seats, but cross-party alliances and new members meant there was no clear winner, with the May 22 parliamentary session expected to reveal more.

Kiribati goes to polls as normal despite Covid-19 threat

Earlybird voter Linda Uan said there was handshaking and smiles as voters left the booth in her area.

She was part of a small lineup of less than a dozen voters as the booth she joined opened at 7am this morning.

Ms Uan said despite health warnings all weekend, including recommendations of social distancing and good hygiene, there was nothing different from the last elections.

She said people seemed to be more excited about exercising their right to vote rather than feeling nervous or fearful of the threat of Covid-19.