Disaster declared as Marshall Islands ravaged by Covid: 'Like wildfire'

·2-min read

A State of Health Disaster has been declared in the Marshall Islands as shocking new statistics reveal about 75 per cent of Covid tests are coming back positive.

A surge of new cases were identified last week and come after the country was able to go years without community transmission.

On Monday, there were 571 new Covid-19 cases. Since October 2020, when two returning travellers tested positive, there have been just over 3000 cumulative cases.

In a statement on Sunday, Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal said about 75 per cent of people being tested for Covid were returning positive results, noting it was an "incredibly high positivity rate".

Covid cases in the Marshall Islands have exploded. Source: AP
Covid cases in the Marshall Islands have exploded. Source: AP

Mr Niedenthal said on Monday the nation's capital of Majuro was "gearing up" for the toughest part of the outbreak this week.

"The good thing about having all these other countries go before us is we really understand epidemiologically how this variant of the virus spreads: like wildfire," he said, according to SBS.

The fresh Covid cases prompted the President and the Cabinet to declare a State of Health Disaster last week.

Island country without many options

In a statement on Facebook on Monday, Mr Niedenthal said Covid was continuing to attack healthcare workers. Workers were asked just days ago to return to work, even if they had Covid.

"I saw a few negative complaints on social media regarding the idea that we are asking our healthcare workers to return to work if they are only experiencing mild symptoms," he wrote.

"You can’t have healthcare if you don’t have healthcare workers. We weren’t left with a lot of choices, and if our workers are willing to come back because they are only suffering from mild symptoms, they are only assigned tasks that don’t involve patient care."

Healthcare workers have been asked to return to work, even if they have Covid-19, following the significant outbreak in Majuro. Source: Getty Images, file
Healthcare workers have been asked to return to work, even if they have Covid-19, following the significant outbreak in Majuro. Source: Getty Images, file

He urged people to trust the public health system and experts to get them through the outbreak.

"The same people who successfully protected our country from this virus for 2.5 years, are the same people who will get us successfully through to the end of this ordeal," he said.

"People need to trust what Public Health is telling them to do, we are the experts and our record throughout the pandemic proves that."

More than 70 per cent of the Marshall Islands population has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Despite the disaster declaration, no lockdown has been enforced, however Radio New Zealand reported that most people are choosing to stay at home.

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