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So far, only nine cases of covid-19 had been detected in Wallis and Futuna (11,000 inhabitants), all during or after the fortnight in a hotel, mandatory for all people arriving in the archipelago. But this Sunday, the prefecture indicated that a first “local” case had been detected. “This is a person who was out of fortnight several weeks ago after a negative test. This person consulted a doctor because of symptoms and tested positive, which means that the virus is circulating on the island, ”said Hervé Jonathan, the senior administrator (prefect) of Wallis and Futuna. With this first case, “the territory is experiencing a new situation”, according to the prefect. The latter said that “the political, administrative, customary and religious authorities are mobilized to ensure the protection of the population”.

Mask compulsory, bars and restaurants closed, flights suspended

A member of the staff of a college, the patient was admitted to the Wallis hospital and investigations are underway to find out whether or not it is a variant of the disease. He must be evacuated to the hospital in Noumea, New Caledonia, according to the prefect, while a campaign of tests will be launched Monday with all students, teachers and administrative and technical staff of the establishment, said the prefecture.

In order to reduce the circulation of the virus as much as possible, wearing a mask has been compulsory since this Sunday in public spaces, bars and restaurants are closed as well as schools and flights between the island of Wallis and Futuna are suspended, the Higher Administration said. While the population of these Polynesian islands lives to the rhythm of Catholic and customary religious ceremonies, religious services are stopped, gatherings of more than three people in public space are prohibited while the prefect recommended that the population scrupulously respect barrier gestures.

Obesity and diabetes

According to a health survey published in 2020, more than 70% of the approximately 11,000 inhabitants of Wallis and Futuna are suffering from obesity and diabetes is also reaching record levels, making the population particularly vulnerable if the virus were to spread. This Sunday, masks were distributed free of charge in dispensaries in Wallis and others were on their way to the sister island of Futuna.

Distant 1,800 kilometers, New Caledonia, where no local case of coronavirus has so far been recorded, announced on Sunday the suspension of its flights with the archipelago.

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