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17 Apr 2020 | 07:29 AM UTC

New Caledonia: Authorities to ease COVID-19 restrictions from April 20 /update 3

New Caledonian government announces easing of COVID-19 restrictions from April 20; heed authorities’ directives

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Event

On Friday, April 17, president Thierry Santa stated that restrictions introduced due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be eased from Monday, April 20. From Monday, the carrying of attestations will no longer be mandatory and public gatherings of fewer than 50 people may go ahead so long as attendees provide their phone numbers so that they can be contacted if further cases potentially linked to these events are detected. Outdoor activities such as going to the beach, fishing, and hunting will also be permitted, but social distancing should be observed. Church services and sporting events remain suspended. Businesses and restaurants will reopen, however, cinemas, discos, and bars will remain closed. Schools will also gradually reopen in Southern Province in the coming week, and other areas will follow in the subsequent week. Internal flights will also resume; however, the border will remain closed. These measures will be reviewed on Monday, May 4, and the French High Commissioner has warned that restrictions may be reintroduced. There have been no further confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Caledonia since Sunday, April 5.

Authorities suspended all international flights from Tuesday, March 24, and foreigners were urged 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 postponed. Entry has also been prohibited to all foreign non-residents.

As of Friday, April 17, New Caledonia has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, with no associated deaths.

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 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.

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 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.