Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services has confirmed 124 new positive Covid-19 community transmission cases on South Tarawa, Betio and Buota through PCR lab tests.

It said the total of Covid-19 cases in the country now stands at 1,037 – 42 imported, 995 local cases on South Tarawa, Betio and Buota and 23 in the outer island of Butaritari. The ministry will soon undertake testing additional cases suspected in a number of outer islands.

Twenty-two passengers who arrived from Fiji were discharged from quarantine after returning negative Covid-19 test results. The remaining passengers remain positive for the virus and will be released once their test results returned negative

Due to the increasing number of community transmission cases, the Government has extended the lockdown of South Tarawa, Betio and Buota for another week to allow the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) to complete their clinical health response and infection prevention and control.

Last week, Australian foreign Minister Marise Payne spoke with Kiribati President Maamau about their partnership to address Kiribati’s current COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes the deployment of a five-member Australian Medical Assistance Team, who are currently working alongside Kiribati health staff on the ground in Tarawa.

Australia has also shared more than 50,000 COVID-19 vaccines with Kiribati from their own supply, in addition to supporting COVAX deliveries and providing technical advice on the nation’s vaccine rollout.