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08 Apr 2020 | 10:10 AM UTC

French Polynesia: Air Tahiti Nui suspends all flights through April 30 due to COVID-19

Air Tahiti Nui suspends all flights through April 30 due to COVID-19; lockdown and curfew remain in place in French Polynesia until at least April 15

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Event

On Monday, March 30, Air Tahiti Nui announced that it would suspend all flights through Thursday, April 30, due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The airline plans to resume normal operations on Friday, May 1; however, Air Tahiti Nui began operating repatriation flights for nonresidents on Tuesday, April 7, from Faa'a International Airport (PPT) to Paris's Charles de Gualle Airport (CDG). Repatriation flights for French Polynesian nationals abroad are not expected to begin until after the containment period. The government suspended all international flights on Friday, March 27, and inter-island travel, except for professional and health reasons, remains banned.

On Friday, March 27, President Édouard Fritch announced that the government would implement a curfew across all islands from 20:00 to 05:00 (local time) daily. The curfew is set to remain in place until Wednesday, April 15, at the earliest. General containment measures have been in place since Saturday, March 21, restricting nonessential travel and closing shops, with the exception of food stores, bakeries, pharmacies, and service stations. These measures will also remain in place until April 15. Police are enforcing the restrictions, and there have been reports of individuals being prosecuted for violating containment measures.

As of Wednesday, April 8, there have been 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in French Polynesia. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.