Pacific nations cautioned on virus

The World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) Western Pacific Regional Director, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, has warned Pacific island nations to be vigilant about the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during a virtual regional committee meeting early this week, he said all countries should remain alert.

"As long as the virus is circulating in the world, no country is safe. And there is no sign that this virus is going away quickly," he said.

"With that in mind, there are two important things. One we must continue to make every effort to build and sustain the ‘new normal’ and two to maintain the principle of solidarity."

Samoa is among 15 Pacific nations that have not recorded a COVID-19 case.

Dr. Kasai said impressive solidarity in the region has been observed, which is encouraging for the collaborative efforts to continue.

"It’s essential to remember that we are in this together, and we can only get out of this together," he reiterated.

According to Dr. Kasai, hundreds of thousands of people in the western Pacific have been infected with the pandemic with more than 13,000 deaths.

The highest mortality rate from COVID-19 is in the United States recording more than 214,000 deaths. To put this into perspective, the number of deaths in the U.S.A. exceeds the total population of Samoa.

"Our region is the fastest ageing in the world. Today, there are already more than 240 million people over 65 years in the Western Pacific, and this number is expected to double by 2050," Dr. Kasai further emphasised.

"This presents health, social and economic challenges. But they can also turn into opportunities when societies become more age-friendly: people who live longer and healthier can be active and contribute to their societies—through paid or unpaid work, or consuming and investing, or passing down knowledge and traditions, and acting as a caregiver for young family members."

Dr Kasai added that when this kind of transformation takes time and it is crucial to get started as soon as possible.

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