From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Mapping: Islands in the Pacific
Mains level : Not Much
Approximately four months after COVID-19 was first detected, the South Pacific Islands have not yet reported any cases of the infectious disease.
Closely observe the map. Note important islands. UPSC may shift its traditional focus from middle east/central asia to this region. These days, Pacific and Indo-Pacific region carry a decent importance.
We can expect MCQs asking to arrange these islands in north-south / east-west direction.
Which South Pacific islands have recorded cases of COVID-19?
- Fiji recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 19.
- Guam, a territory of the US in the South Pacific, witnessed an outbreak among the staff of the US navy.
- New Caledonia also recorded its first COVID-19 cases in mid-March, with links to overseas travel.
- The Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Palau and Nauru have no recorded cases of COVID-19.
What impact will COVID-19 have on Pacific island nations?
- A widespread outbreak of COVID-19 will have a disastrous impact on these island nations.
- Although these islands are popular with tourists, the outer islands and rural villages are home to indigenous populations.
- Most of these areas have a very basic infrastructure for healthcare, with larger hospitals and medical centres located in bigger towns.
- Even in everyday circumstances, these small medical centres struggle due to the lack of medical supplies.
- The socio-cultural factors, like the prevalence of large families in this region, also make the individuals susceptible to community transmission.
- There is also a lack of access to running water, making sanitation difficult.
- Environmental factors like the seasonal tropical cyclone that swept through the region in April, led to the displacement of hundreds of people in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga.