The country is still absent from Covid-19 after more than 2 years

  While masks, face coverings and medical clothing were common in most countries during the pandemic, they were rare in the island nation of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, is one of the very few countries that has never had a single case of Covid-19.

Here, personal protective equipment (PPE) is used mainly by airport staff such as Petaia Nome, who is in charge of loading and unloading goods, according to The Guardian.

Nome knew that if Covid-19 spilled over into his small country, about 4,000 kilometers from Australia with a population of 12,000, it would come from one of the planes carrying medical supplies and food, or from the Tuvaluans. living abroad to repatriate.

“I love my job. But due to the arrival of the pandemic, I feel unsafe and worried for my family at home. I am very careful when loading and unloading goods, always making sure that I follow the correct procedure when taking off PPE,” he shared.

“After the plane took off, we all immediately tested for Covid-19. And when I received the negative result, I felt very relieved and quickly returned home, enjoying the rest of the day," added Nome.

According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic has not yet reached countries such as North Korea and Turkmenistan - which claim to be free of Covid-19, three Pacific island nations, Tuvalu, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia, and one other island territories.

With no planes coming and going, Tuvalu's runway, located in the capital, Funafuti, is used as a soccer field or for drying clothes. Sometimes, residents sleep here when the weather is especially hot.

However, since the pandemic began, part of the runway has been banned. The hangar, located about 300 meters from the airport, became an isolation center and was guarded by police.

Police Hililogo Tepou believes there is always the possibility that the virus came from planes and cargo ships, but only if frontline workers do not take precautions seriously.

"I believe Tuvalu is lucky to have no cases, and we should be grateful for this," she said.

The runway in the capital Funafuti becomes a children's playground when it is not in operation. Photo: PRIF.

The island nation closed its borders in early 2020 and has not yet reopened. This gives them more time to prepare, with about 90% of the adult population having received 2 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and 85% of 12-17 year olds receiving the first dose.

Schools and other services operate as normal. Basically, people's lives are not disturbed.

Two of the islands outside Tuvalu do not allow entry of other islanders who have not had 2 doses of the vaccine.

Most Tuvaluans are pleased with the government's response to border closures, but that also comes with a price.

Before the pandemic, Tuvalu used to have 3 flights from Fiji on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Women selling local handicrafts would set up tables near the airport to display necklaces and clips. hair, garlands, small mats and baskets.

Anita Filigina said she used to have a good income from this sales job.

“I still sell handicrafts now, but the income is less. Fortunately, I still have another business thanks to my husband who is a fisherman,” she shared.

Thanks to the absence of disease, Filigina is still able to host a large number of people at her house whenever her husband catches a new catch to sell.

Dr Tapugao Falefou, Chairman of the Covid-19 Task Force, said Tuvalu will maintain border closures "until further notice", except for some repatriation flights.

Sofa Phuoc Ninh Do

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