Pacific News Minute: COVID-19 hits New Zealand territory of Tokelau for the first time
Tokelau, known as one of the smallest land areas in the Pacific, is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, halfway between Hawaiʻi and New Zealand.
The territory has a population of about 1,500 people and consists of three tropical coral atolls named Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo.
The Tokelau government reported its first cases of COVID-19 last week, which have been detected at the border of Atafu — its northernmost atoll.
The Pacific Island Times reports the people with COVID-19 were among a group of five who traveled on a ferry from Fakaofo, its southernmost atoll. They had recently visited Apia, Samoa.
Siopili Perez, the head of the Tokelau government, said all five positive cases are currently in Atafu's quarantine facility.
The government said containing the virus at the border shows its COVID-19 response has been vigilant and effective.
Perez added that almost all of Tokelau's eligible population is fully vaccinated.
Nevertheless, Perez fast-tracked a request to New Zealand for a second vaccine booster. He has also banned travel among the three atolls except for essential officials and supplies, until further notice.
There are no expected changes to travel arrangements and activities between Tokelau and Samoa.