On Sunday 7 March, the authorities of New Caledonia have declared a two-week lockdown after the outbreak of Covid-19. Until now, the island was spared.
New Caledonians are collecting disasters at the moment. In less than ten days, they have experienced a fatal shark attack, a tsunami warning, a cyclone and the announcement of a strict two-week lockdown, following the detection of the first nine cases of Covid-19. This is in addition to the very violent actions in the case of the takeover of the Vale factory, in southern New Caledonia, at the very beginning of the year and the fall of the government on 2 February… which still does not have a president.
Health bubble with Wallis and Futuna
To that day, New Caledonia was the only developed country without Covid. The situation was so good in this area that an health bubble was organised with Wallis and Futuna, which was also Covid-free. The 12,000 inhabitants of that French archipelago could come and go in Caledonia without going through quarantine. New Caledonians could also travel to Wallis and Futuna without hindrance. As passengers arriving from mainland France had to undergo quarantine in Wallis. There would have been a leak in the quarantine.
Leak in the quarantine in Wallis
Wallisians would have come into contact with at least one person in quarantine. This person was contaminated. This is how the virus entered Wallis and Futuna. It then took advantage of the bubble to enter New Caledonia. The authorities then decided to react very quickly and very strongly to avoid the spread. “We’re swatting a fly with a thirty-ton truck,” explained Christopher Gygès, spokesman for the New Caledonia government.
Less than 5% vaccinated
For at least two weeks, all schools and universities are closed, non-compulsory travel is limited to one hour per day within a one-kilometre radius, masks must be worn in public areas, and international flights in the direction of arrivals are suspended, as are domestic flights to the six islands.
At the same time, New Caledonia is vaccinating (Pfizer). For the moment less than 5% of the population is vaccinated thanks to free vaccines offered by the French state. The authorities promise to accelerate the rate of vaccination in Caledonia and to start vaccination in Wallis and Futuna.
How will Caledonia pay?
Last year, Caledonia was forced to take out a €240 million loan to deal with the crisis. How much will this containment cost? The question is all the more worrying as the government has no president and… no budget. There is a very strong possibility that Caledonia will be under French trusteeship from 31 March. This would be a regression in the progressive emancipation of Caledonia…