Tropical Cyclone Harold meets the Novel Coronavirus
Dispatch from the Pacific
Abstract: COVID-19 began to manifest in the Pacific Islands by early March 2020, starting in the US and French territories, spreading slowly to the independent countries of Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. All of the independent Pacific countries responded with aggressive measures, closing borders and establishing curfews. Against this background, Tropical Cyclone Harold, formed on April Fool's Day, began its devastating path through four Pacific countries: Solomon Islands with 27 dead in a ferry accident; Vanuatu whose northern islands, including Santo and Malekula were devastated by the cyclone with wind speeds greater than 200 km/h. The devastation continued in Fiji, with two tornadoes and devastation particularly in Kadavu and the southern Lau group. Tropical Cyclone Harold struck Tonga at the height of the king tide. COVID-19 continues to complicate relief efforts, particularly in Vanuatu. As of May 3, 2020, sixteen Pacific countries and territories had yet to report their first confirmed case of COVID-19: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Pitcairn, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. The Pacific continues to lead by example motivated by collective stewardship with actions and policies based on science. Pacific leaders continue to work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to implement COVID-19 management recommendations.
Aqorau, T. (2020, April 9) COVID-19 and Solomon Islands: the first casualties and possible ramifications. Devpolicy@ANU. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://devpolicy.org/covid-19-and-solomon-islands-the-first-casualties-and-possible-ramifications-20200409/
Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) (2020, April 8). Tropical Cyclone Harold Images Archive. Colorado State University. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://rammb-data.cira.colostate.edu/tc_realtime/products/storms/2020sh25/1kmirimg/2020sh25_1kmirimg_202004062146.gif
Fiji Government (2020a, March 19). Declaration of natural disaster (TC Harold). Fiji Government Media Center. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Centre/Speeches/PM-BAINIMARAMA%E2%80%99S-STATEMENT-ON-THE-FIRST-COVID-19-C
Fiji Government (2020b, April 12). Declaration of natural disaster (TC Harold). Fiji Government Media Center. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Centre/News/DECLARATION-OF-NATURAL-DISASTER-(TC-HAROLD)
Fiji Ministry of Health Press Release (2020, April 17) Fiji COVID-19 cases/clusters. Fiji Ministry of Health. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from http://www.health.gov.fj/fiji-covid-19-cases-clusters/
Forum Secretariat (2016). Framework for resilient development in the Pacific. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.forumsec.org/the-framework-for-resilient-development-in-the-pacific/
Kumar, K. (2020, April 7). Over 830 direct and casual contacts for patient nine. FBC News. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/covid-19/838-direct-and-casual-contacts-for-patient-nine/
McGarry, D. (2020, April 9) ‘It’s all gone’: Cyclone Harold cuts a deadly path through Vanuatu. The Guardian. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/10/its-all-gone-cyclone-harold-cuts-a-deadly-path-through-vanuatu
Nand, E. (2020a, April 4). PM warns of 24 hour curfew. FBC News. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/covid-19/8th-covid-19-patient-confirmed/
Nand, E. (2020b, April 7). Quarantine period extended to 28 days. FBC News. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/covid-19/quarantine-period-extended-to-28-days/
Roberts, A., & Seleman, H. (2020, April 8). Luganville mayor pleads for urgent help. Vanuatu Daily Post. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://dailypost.vu/news/luganville-mayor-pleads-for-urgent-help/article_43abe1da-791c-11ea-9c4d-3bce13ffdb85.html
Romone, M. (n.d.). Email to the author.
Sandler, R. (2020, May 17). 13 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for Covid-19 a second time. Forbes Magazine breaking news. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2020/05/16/13-sailors-on-the-uss-theodore-roosevelt-have-tested-positive-for-covid-19-a-second-time/#761f166f25aa
World Health Organisation (WHO) (2020, May 16). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Report-117. Data as received by WHO from national authorities by 10:00 CEST, 16 May 2020. Retrieved on 17 May, 2020 from https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200516-covid-19-sitrep-117.pdf?sfvrsn=8f562cc_2
Copyright (c) 2020 Elisabeth Holland
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.