See ten kontris wey no allow coronavirus enta. But dem win Covid-19 war?

  • By Owen Amos
  • BBC News
The Palau Hotel, Koror

Wia dis foto come from, Palau Hotel

Wetin we call dis foto,

The Palau Hotel, Koror

Coronavirs don affect all di kontries for world except ten odas. So wetin dem go do now?

Di Palau Hotel open for 1982 before tourism become popular, but since then, dis tiny kontri wey dey beside di sky-blue Pacific Ocean, don dey enjoy boom.

For 2019 alone, 90,000 tourists visit Palau, dis na five times di number of pipo for di kontri. For 2017, International Monetary Fund (IMF) report show say tourism make up 40% of di kontri GDP.

But dat na before coronavirus.

Palau close im border since late March. Di kontri na one of di ten kontri for di world wey no get confam cases (na only kontri wey be full UN member we dey count here, e no include North Korea and Turkmenistan).

Still, even though dem no get one single pesin wey di virus infect, Covid-19 still scata di kontri.

Di Palau Hotel don close since March and no be only am close. Di restaurants too dey empty, di souvenir shops dey closed and di only hotel customers na pipo wey dey under quarantine.

Kontris wey no get any Covid-19 case

  • Palau
  • Micronesia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Kiribati
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Samoa
  • Vanuatu
  • Tonga

Palau

“Di ocean for here fine pass di one for any oda place for di world," Brian Lee, di manager and co-owner of di Palau Hotel tok.

Na di sky-blue ocean dey keep Brian busy. Before Covid-19, im 54 rooms dey dey up to 70% to 80% occupy. But wen border close, notin notin dey again.

"Na small kontri so local pipo no dey stay for Palau," Brian tok.

E say im get 20 workers and im keep all of dem even though dem no dey do full work hours. "I try to find work for dem - like maintenance, renovation and so on," im tok

But e no possible to continue to maintain and renovate empty hotel forever. "I fit stay for anoda six month," im tok. "Den i go gatz close."

Di kontri president recently announce say essential flights fit resume on September 1.

Marshall Islands

Across di big Pacific Ocean, about 4,000km east of di ocean, di Marshall Islands also dey coronavirus free. But like Palau, no infection no mean say coro no still affect dem.

Di Hotel Robert Reimers get lagoon on one side and ocean on di oda side. Before conranvirus di 37 rooms wey di hotel gt dey full reach 88% wit customers from Asia, di Pacific or United states.

Since border close for March na just about 3-5% of customers dey show.

"We get few pipo wey dey come di islands," Sophia Fowler wey dey work wit di hotel group tok. "But dem no plenty."

Di kontri dey expect to lose more dan 700 jobs sake of Covid, di biggest fall since 1997. Out of dis number, 258 na from di hotel and restaurant sector.

Wia dis foto come from, Mario Tama/Getty Images

Wetin we call dis foto,

Local workers waiting for a cruise ship in Vanuatu in December 2019 - something that cannot happen while borders are closed

But self isolation affect more dan tourism - di Marshall Islands no depend on tourists reach Palau. Di bigger problem wey dem get na di fish industry.

To make sure say di kontri free from coro, authorities ban boats wey don go kontris wey wit di infection make dem no enta dia port. Other boats including fuel tankers and container ship must to spend 14 days for sea before dem enta. Dem no sell fishing licence and cargo flights no dey operate.

dis on mean say, Marshall Islands wey specialise for aquarium fish - di most popular na di flame angel fish - dey export only 50% according to one US report. Oda fishing industries dey expect 30% fall during dis year.

In fact, you fit no allow di virus enta, but you no fit defeat am. Coro must to get you any which way.

Sophia "hope" say tins go return to normal for di kontri and Hotel Reimers next year. but if e no happun?

"Den e no go possible for us," she tok.

Vanuatu

But, even though closing di border make kontris wey no get covid-19 poorer, no be everybody want make dem reopen am.

Dr Len Tarivonda na director of public health for Vanuatu, wey get population of 300,000 pipo. E say majority of di pipo want make di border remain closed "for as long as possible."

He say, "dem say: "We no want di sickness - otherwise we don finish be dat."

About 80% of di kontri pipo dey live outside town and di "formal economy," Dr Taravonda tok.

"And wetin i observe be say dem no too dey feel di pinch for now. Dem na farmers, dem dey grow ia own food."

Still, di kontri dey suffer. Di Asian Development Bank dey expect say GDP go fall by maximum 10% - Vanuata biggest drop since independence for 1980.

Dis drop no be only sake of coronavirus border closure. For April, Tropical Cyclone Harold scata tins for di kontri, kill three pipo plus affect more dan half of di population.

Wetin we call dis Video,

'Superstorm' Harold hits Vanuatu after killing 27

For July, Vanuata goment bin plan to reopen border for oda "safe2 kontris by September 1. Den di case for Australia and New Zealand come increase na im goment push back di plan.

Dr Travonda wey be member of di kontri border taskforce say, as tins be so, dem don "almost go back to square one," dem no get new date to reopen

But even though dem need to open di border, Vanuata no dey in a hurry to reopen.

Dr Travonda say, "if di virus come, e fit to spread like fire - and wetin we dey see dey happun for Papua New Guinea na example of why we dey worry."

Sale of goods in Vanuatu
Getty
Forecast 2020 GDP falls

  • 9.8%Vanuatu

  • 9.5%Palau

  • 6.0%Solomon Islands

  • 5.5%Marshall Islands

  • 5.0%Samoa

Source: Asian Development Bank's Pacific Economic Monitor, 30 July

So wetin Covid-free kontris fit do?

E get some short term solutions like to pay workers and business dem. Den e get di long term solution - to wait for vaccine.

Until den, to remain for lockdown na dia best hope. Still, Rommel Rabanal from Asia Development Bank say, e sound simple wey dem tok am for mouth.

"Dis kain arrangement get requirements," im tok. dem go need to get di standards for testing, contact tracing and quarantine facility in case dem get outbreak."

Jonathan Pryke, na director of di Pacific island programme for Lowy Institute, e say as di months dey pass by, pressure dey increase for di for dis Pacific kontris.

Still im no get doubt say di only option wey dis kontris get na to continue to dey self isolation on international level.

“Even if they kept their borders open, their major tourism markets of Australia and New Zealand wouldn’t be open, as they’ve locked down their own borders," he says.

"So you would have the worst of both worlds – a health crisis and an economic crisis. We’re going to have years and years to look at what the right decisions were.

"But looking back, no one’s going to doubt that locking down was the right move by these Pacific nations.”