Tokelau border protects community from first case of COVID-19 since pandemic began

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The Ongoing Government of Tokelau has announced its first case of COVID-19 have been detected at the border of its northernmost atoll of Atafu.

The Ulu o Tokelau,  Siopili Perez says the five cases picked up through RAT screening in quarantine, three on 13 December, 1 on 14 and 1 on 18 December arrived from a group who travelled from Fakaofo on the MV Mataliki with passengers from Apia to attend a wedding. They are three children, a young adult and a 24-year old female.

“As of today, all five positive cases are currently in quarantine. They are in good health, good spirits and are monitored closely by the COVID response team on Atafu,” stated Ulu o Tokelau, Siopili Perez.

However, the geographical isolation of Tokelau’s three atolls and focus on first ensuring safe management of the virus at Atafu’s quarantine facility delayed the formal announcement by the government.

“It was important that we focus on getting everything right to keep the virus at the border. Right now, we are fortunate to have our own PCR analysis lab here on Nukunonu atoll so we will be able to know the results of their PCR tests soon to assess how much longer they will stay in managed isolation.

“Tokelau has been very fortunate to date with our COVID programme and vaccination roll-out to be the only country in the world without the virus in her communities. We have been blessed that our COVID-19 response led by each Taupulega and the help of New Zealand and partners is where it needs to be with almost all of Tokelau’s eligible population fully vaccinated.”

Containing the virus at the border shows Tokelau’s COVID-19 response has been vigilant and effective. However, a few changes to strengthen the response have since been made: fast-tracking a request to New Zealand for a second vaccine booster targeting end of 2022; a ban on inter-atoll travel effective immediately; and timely incorporation of latest science evidence-based information into the COVID-19 Response Plan.

“We have officially requested New Zealand that we are ready to administer a second booster. New Zealand is working hard to deliver our vaccine supply to us by 29 December. Once our second booster has been administered, we will be even more confident in our fight against COVID-19. But for now, keeping the virus away from our community remains our utmost priority.”

Perez confirmed a travel ban between the three Tokelau atolls except for essential officials and supplies, until further notice. There are no expected changes to travel arrangements and activities between Tokelau and Samoa.

“We have remained vigilant; we have caught this case at the border and I ask our people on all three atolls to remain vigilant so we keep this virus outside of our community. We acknowledge our diaspora support and that of New Zealand and our partners. And above all, our Heavenly Father for safeguarding Tokelau from the ill-effects of this pandemic, said Perez.

SOURCE: TOKELAU GOVT/PACNEWS