By RNZ

Countries around the Pacific are deepening their restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Around the region, 21 people have now tested positive for Covid-19, while dozens more are being held in isolation while tests are carried out.

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Fiji declared its first case yesterday, while in the worst affected territory, Guam, the number of cases has risen to 12.

Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama, flanked by government officials and ministers, announces the country's first case of Covid-19 coronavirus on Thursday. Photo / RNZ
Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama, flanked by government officials and ministers, announces the country's first case of Covid-19 coronavirus on Thursday. Photo / RNZ

Here is the latest on Friday

French Polynesia has seen its total increase by three, to six.

Guam saw four new cases, bringing its total to 12.

Most countries have now strengthened or introduced border controls.

Here is a country-by-country guide to what measures each country and territory has introduced, but the basic message from most countries is: Don't go.

Fiji
The murmurings had been circulating all day on Thursday, panic buying started at supermarkets, and a prominent rugby tournament was cancelled in anticipation. Then, after numerous delays, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama fronted the nation and confirmed it, Fiji had its first case of Covid-19.

Mr Bainimarama said the person had recently returned to Lautoka from abroad, and is in isolation in hospital.

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"The person in question was identified, isolated and tested Tuesday evening at the Lautoka hospital," Mr Bainimarama said. "The patient remains under close medical supervision and he is in a stable condition."

Mr Bainimarama said there was no evidence of any community transmission, but the town of Lautoka - Fiji's second-largest - has been placed in effective lockdown.

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From midnight last night, all schools and non-essential businesses in the greater Lautoka area have been ordered closed, and the government has asked all who live in the area to stay in the area.

Gatherings of more than 20 people - including meetings and religious services - are now banned, and all nightclubs, gyms, cinemas, swimming pools and fitness centres have also been ordered closed.

Mr Bainimarama also tightened Fiji's border restrictions, extending a travel ban to people from the United States and Europe, including the UK.

All travellers are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Guam
With 12 cases in total, the US territory of Guam is now the worst-hit of the Pacific countries and territories.

Yesterday, the government confirmed that four more cases were identified, while dozens more were in isolation awaiting test results.

In a statement, the health department said only one of the four new cases had a travel history, raising fears of community transmission.

From noon today, all public spaces, bars, restaurants, recreation and leisure facilities will be ordered closed.

Churches have also been asked to stop public attendance and to limit numbers at funerals.

The government has already imposed mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving on the island.

French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch confirms the Pacific region's first case of Covid-19 at a news conference in Tahiti on Thursday. Photo / RNZ
French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch confirms the Pacific region's first case of Covid-19 at a news conference in Tahiti on Thursday. Photo / RNZ

French Polynesia

There were three more confirmed coronavirus cases in French Polynesia on Thursday, including the first in Moorea, bringing the territory's total to six.

At a news conference in Papeete, the president Edouard Fritch and the French High Commissioner Dominque Sorain said only residents are now allowed to enter French Polynesia.

Movements will be further restricted, and schools and childcare centres have been ordered closed.

The first case in French Polynesia - and the Pacific - came a week ago when the territory's member of the French National Assembly, Maine Sage, returned from Paris with the virus.

She is understood to be recovering.

New Caledonia
The New Caledonian government has ordered the closure of public places, such as restaurants, bars, nakamals and casinos, for two weeks.

The new measures were announced after two people with the coronavirus were diagnosed on Wednesday. The pair were two who arrived from Australia for their honeymoon on Tuesday.

Meetings of more than 20 people are now banned in New Caledonia and schools, training institutes and the university have been closed.

Non-residents are not allowed to enter New Caledonia, while passenger traffic between New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna, another French territory, has been suspended.

The president, Thierry Santa, has urged employers to allow work to be done from home.

In suburban Noumea, a suburban sports centre has already been converted into a quarantine facility.

Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. Photo / Facebook
Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. Photo / Facebook

Samoa

Samoa, only just coming through the other side of a measles epidemic that killed 83 people, is now awaiting test results for its first suspected case of Covid-19.

One person from Auckland is being held in an Apia hospital. A government statement on Wednesday said test results would take "10-20 working days", but that was amended on Thursday, with test results now expected to take three to five.

Either way, Samoa's cabinet will hold a special meeting today to decide on further restrictions. But Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi hinted in a radio show last night that this could involve a complete border shutdown.

He told 2AP that flights to and from Australia "will be stopped for a very long time," while flights to New Zealand could be severely curtailed.

Tuilaepa said if the tests come back positive, the country could go into lockdown - that would include shutting schools, businesses and public transport. Similar to what happened in the measles outbreak.

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Samoa already has some of the strictest measures: all arrivals need a medical certificate, and people need to self-isolate before travelling. But essentially, the Samoan government is asking people to travel there at all - including Samoans abroad returning for reunions, weddings, funerals etc.

American Samoa
American Samoa currently requires non-US passport holders to spend at least 14 days in Hawaii before entering, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a letter to the US interior secretary, the territory's governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga said "there is great fear that our healthcare service delivery system could collapse if the projections and estimates on the percentage of people who will be infected in the community hold true."

The government has created a Covid-19 taskforce, and brought in self-isolation requirements and heavy screening at the border.

It has also banned cruise ships, but made an exception on Wednesday to allow the cruise ship Norwegian Jewel, which had been bobbing around in the Pacific after it was rejected by four countries, to refuel.

The ship was inspected by the US Coast Guard, and nobody was allowed to disembark. It is now on its way to Hawaii.

Cook Islands
Anyone who wants to go to the Cook Islands will have to spend 14 days self-quarantined in New Zealand beforehand. All flights from French Polynesia, Australia and the US have been suspended, and the number of flights from Auckland have been whittled down.

Rarotonga Airport. Photo / RNZI
Rarotonga Airport. Photo / RNZI

If you do get there, you won't be allowed further than Rarotonga for a while. The Cook Islands health secretary, Josephine Aumea Herman, said that from Saturday, all travellers to the Pa Enua - the outer islands - must first be quarantined in Rarotonga.

"The whole purpose around this is to provide the Pa Enua a safeguard so that we can pretty much avoid the virus going to the Pa Enua," she said.

Ms Aumea Herman said health officials visited the outer islands last week to ensure their preparedness.

Nauru
Nauru has declared a State of Disaster as it prepares for Covid-19.

President Lionel Aingimea said in an address that there are no cases in Nauru but he says the coronavirus could be devastating if it arrives.

Stringent quarantine and border protection measures are in place, requiring all travellers to spend 14 days in approved transition accommodation, before being allowed into the community.

Flights to and from Nauru have been reduced to one return service to Brisbane once a fortnight.

Mr Aingimea said Nauruans should practice social distancing, avoiding un-necessary human contact and mass gatherings.

Tonga
In Tonga, tougher measures were introduced on Tuesday night, with people from countries with community transmission of Covid-19 now required to spend 14-days self-isolated in a country with fewer than 60 cases - a measure that affects Australia.

However the restriction does not apply to Tongan citizens, permanent residents or their immediate family members.

Meanwhile, a quarantine site has been set up at the Taliai Army Camp in Fua'amotu, with three people already being held there.

Tokelau

Tokelau, a New Zealand territory north of Samoa, is only accessibe by boat and anyone coming from a country with confirmed cases of coronavirus will not be allowed to board. Returning Tokelau residents must spend 14-days self-isolating in Samoa before boarding.

Tuvalu
Anyone hoping to go to Tuvalu must spend 14-days of isolation in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu or Solomon Islands before embarking for the country.

The runway at the airport in Funafuti, Tuvalu. With only three flights a week, the runway doubles as the small atoll's main recreation area. Photo / RNZ
The runway at the airport in Funafuti, Tuvalu. With only three flights a week, the runway doubles as the small atoll's main recreation area. Photo / RNZ

Solomon Islands

Schools in the capital, Honiara, and the wider Guadalcanal province have been ordered closed, with three suspected cases returning negative this week.

In a national address on Thursday, prime minister Manaseeh Sogavare announced a 90 day ban on all cruise ships and private yachts.

Mr Sogavare also said that from Sunday there would be a major reduction in flights, with Virgin Australia and Air Niugini suspending their services from Brisbane and Port Moresby. Solomon Airlines will only fly three times a week to Brisbane.

All international travellers to Solomon Islands are required to undergo 14 days of self-quarantine.

Papua New Guinea
The prime minister James Marape has been facing mounting criticism this week over its fragmented response to the pandemic, after mixed communication about a possible case that eventually came back negative.

Still, from Sunday, all incoming international flights will be banned, and a government Covid-19 taskforce has been formed.

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The lengthy, porous land border with Indonesia has been sealed for two months now, but MPs in the Sepik region have said they'll fund bolstered surveillance, as the number of cases in Indonesia continue to surge.

Provincial governor Tony Wouwou said better surveillance and proper quarantine is needed along the 700km frontier.

But he suggested that since it was difficult to stop people coming across from Indonesia's Papua region by boat or through the bush, it may be best to allow controlled movement at the border post at Wutung.

The Wutung entry facility at the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea is an important trading access point. Photo / RNZ
The Wutung entry facility at the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea is an important trading access point. Photo / RNZ

"People are still crossing at night, through bush tracks, from the other side. This is the problem that we have right now," Mr Wouwou explained.

One of the Sepik MPs, opposition leader Belden Namah, has called on the national government to declare a state of emergency to prevent and contain Covid-19, and send more security forces to control the border.

Palau
As a precautionary measure to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, all schools in Palau will be closed starting on Monday until 3 April.

All government-sponsored events, workshops and official overseas travel has been postponed. However, the country is not closing its airport or seaports.

Niue
Currently, anyone who's been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia or Thailand is not allowed in Niue without written authorisation from the government.

Photo / RNZ
Photo / RNZ

Cabinet will be meeting to update the travel advisory in the coming days, with Niue's local broadcaster saying Australia is likely to be included in the list of banned countries.

The sitting of the Niue High Court this week - where the judge travels from New Zealand - has been postponed because of coronavirus concerns.

Vanuatu
Vanuatu pushed ahead with its general election on Thursday, despite some concerns about mass gatherings.

In a national address on Tuesday the caretaker prime minister Charlot Salwai announced the extension of the ban on cruise ship visits to 60 days, the suspension of the labour mobility scheme to Australia and New Zealand and a reduction in international flights into the country.

Anyone who's been in one of 33 countries - including Australia - in the past 14 days will be denied entry.

Marshall Islands
The strictest measure is in the Marshall Islands, which has banned all inbound travel altogether until mid-April at the least.

In a country scattered over remote atolls, with a health-system that's been devastated by an ongoing dengue fever epidemic that's stressed eight months, the government is making no apologies for its measures.

Majuro's frontline of defense against measles and the new coronavirus is the Ministry of Health and Human Service's airport screening team. Photo / RNZ
Majuro's frontline of defense against measles and the new coronavirus is the Ministry of Health and Human Service's airport screening team. Photo / RNZ

"Quite frankly, I don't care what the rest of the world thinks about our really strict travel advisory," the health secretary, Jack Niedenthal, told RNZ last week. He said it allowed the Marshall Islands "breathing space" to build quarantine units and prepare Covid-19 response plans.

"We have to protect our people," he said.

Micronesia
All schools in Federated States of Micronesia have been closed, and the government says it's working to strengthen its quarantine measures.