On Saturday, April 11, authorities in New Caledonia extended an ongoing nationwide lockdown until Sunday, April 19, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. During the lockdown, members of the public will only permitted to leave their homes for essential reasons such as purchasing food, seeking medical care, and travelling to and from work when working remotely is not possible. Police are actively enforcing these measures and movements will require documentation to justify their travel.
On Thursday, March 19, authorities announced that all international flights will be suspended after Tuesday, March 24, and have urged foreigners to return home. Commercial passenger flights to mainland France have been suspended as of Monday, March 23, though freight and medical flights will continue. All flights to Wallis and Futuna are suspended. Entry has also been prohibited to all foreign non-residents. The government has closed all schools, bars, restaurants, and cinemas indefinitely as of Thursday, March 19, to limit the spread of the virus.
As of April 11, there are 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Caledonia. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
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 trouble 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.
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 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, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.