At the end of the world, places still preserved from coronavirus

The paradisiac islands of Palau, in the Pacific, are among the rare places on the globe still preserved from the new coronavirus.
However, the 18,000 inhabitants of this micro-country, located hundreds of kilometers from the nearest neighboring islands, are worried.

Like Tonga, Solomon, Marshall and Micronesia, also located in the Pacific Ocean, this geographic isolation combined with travel restrictions has so far allowed this archipelago to record no cases of Covid- 19.

But it could only be a respite from the inexorable spread of the pandemic.

The Northern Mariana Islands, located further east, this weekend recorded their first cases of contamination and a suspicious death on Monday.

Like many Palauers, Klamiokl Tulop, a 28-year-old single mother, continues to hope that Palau will not suffer the same fate as the cities of Wuhan, New York or Madrid – where the health services, though better endowed , have been overwhelmed.

This artist feels concern mounting among the population who fears that the virus will eventually reach this island at the end of the world or, worse, that it has already arrived there.

“Just by shopping, you can feel growing tension and anxiety,” she told AFP. “The stores are crowded even in the weeks when people are not paid.”

After several alerts, the authorities of this small Oceanian State remain on the alert. They await in particular the results of a screening carried out on a person placed in quarantine.

On the economic front, the Palau archipelago is already affected by the fears aroused by the Covid-19.

Supermarket shelves in the town of Koror, the largest in the country, were taken over by panicked residents. There is now a shortage of hydro-alcoholic solutions, masks and alcohol.

These islands are very dependent on imports, which are made by boat or plane, the products very quickly run out.

United Airlines has so far served Palau six times a week from the US territory of Guam, which has documented more than 50 cases of the new coronavirus.

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