Kiribati records two more Covid-19 deaths

The Health Ministry reports the victims were a 70-year-old man with underlying medical conditions and an 89-year-old woman who was unvaccinated.

There have been over 2,800 infections recorded across the atoll islands, with 23 new cases reported in the past two days.

The Government has extended its nationwide lockdown for another fortnight since Friday.

Authorities said the lockdown "may be longer should the need arise" due to widespread community transmissions.

Omicron variant widespread in Kiribati as 222 new Covid-19 cases recorded

The omicron variant is now widespread in the community as cases continue to be recorded on South Tarawa, Betio, Buota, Butaritari island and in North Tarawa.

The health ministry has confirmed that a 65-year-old woman who previously had a stroke has been admitted to an isolation centre.

The health ministry said 48 border cases at the Quarantine Centre have all been discharged after they tested negative, while another 88 community cases have recovered.

There is one confirmed Covid-19 death on the atoll islands.


Kiribati's Banaba Island faces a food shortage

An advocate, Biara Touakin, who is based in Fiji, said a ship typically visits each month, but the last one, on January the 6th, only contained enough food for about two weeks.

The more than 300 people living on Banaba depend almost entirely on food sent from Tarawa.

The island was decimated by phosphate mining in the first half of the 20th century, and it no longer has fruit bearing trees that could supplement the people's fishing.

Mr Touakin also said the desalination plant installed late last year continues to produce brackish water.

Kiribati extends lockdown as 65 new cases recorded

The Micronesian Island nation recorded 65 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of positive infections to 181.

The Health Ministry said the new infections were reported on Tarawa, and those infected are in home isolation.

There are now 145 local and 36 imported cases.

Authorities also confirmed that some government officials have tested positive for the virus and are working remotely.

The authorities are advising people to strictly follow the Covid-19 protocols to minimise the risks and spreading the virus in the community.

Kiribati confirms more than 100 Covid-19 cases, prompting new govt restrictions

There are 116 people infected on the island - 36 imported and 80 local cases.

Nine new cases have been found in Butaritari Island, prompting the government to advise local authorities to enforce a lockdown.

Several other islands have been placed under strict restrictions - including South Tarawa, Betio, and Buota - to stop the virus from spiralling out of control.

Meanwhile, the government said that from today, fishermen in South Tarawa and Betio would only be allowed to go fishing between 6am and 2pm.

Kiribati opens Phoenix marine reserve for commercial fishing

The Phoenix Island Protection Area, which was established in 2006 and is more than 400,000 square kilometers in size, was closed for fishing in 2015.

The government said since 2015, this led to a revenue loss from fishing licences of almost $US150 million.

It said this loss went against the development needs of the country.

It said its Kiribati Vision for 20 years was people-centric and so Kiribati efforts to protect biodiversity needs to strike a balance to enable actions that also uplift the livelihoods of the people.

Banaba Islanders again without clean water

Earlier this year the Banabans sought international help after being left months with a meagre supply of water.

With help from New Zealand and Australia two de-salination units were installed.

But a Banaban living in Fiji, Biara Touakin, said the islanders reported the machines had never worked properly.

He said even after Kiribati government engineers spent several weeks on the island, through to last week, people have continued to complain the water is inadequate.

Kiribati withdraws from Pacific Islands Forum

The formal communication was made to the Government of Fiji as the depositary of the 2000 Agreement Establishing the Pacific Islands Forum. 

In a statement, the Kiribati Government said the decision to withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum was premised on the selection of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum which in essence must be made based on consensus in line with the Gentlemen’s Agreement on sub-regional rotation. 

Micronesian leaders united in decision to withdraw from Forum

Palau has already commenced with the process.  

A statement released today said the five Presidents of Micronesia will honour the Mekreos Communique and withdraw from the Forum as stated in a joint communique released also released today.

The leaders of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati and the Republic of the Marshall Islands met virtually yesterday (Monday).

According to the statement, Nauru President Lionel Aingimea “believes the Forum has lost its original intent to be a regional body and what the Forum was originally set up to do.”

NZ Orion finds two fishing boats missing off Tarawa

The two boats, which had been reported as missing separately, were found in quick succession.

There were four survivors but one person had died.

The search and rescue operation was coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji after initial search efforts by Kiribati authorities failed.

The Orion was initially searching for a five-metre wooden fishing vessel, which had gone missing between Tarawa and Maiana Islands and had last been seen on 30 October.

The crew were later asked to also look for a smaller aluminium boat, 72 nautical miles west of Tarawa.