Schools closed, return of confinement and travel certificates: faced with the outbreak of the Covid epidemic, French Polynesia has decided to take another turn of the screw. These new rules will come into effect Monday and for at least two weeks.

“We have decided to limit as much as possible the movements of the population in the most affected areas” announced High Commissioner Dominique Sorain. The incidence rate is the highest in France, with 2,800 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Polynesia.

Schools already affected by the Covid

Edouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia, announced the closure “starting Monday” schools, colleges and high schools, which had reopened their doors two weeks previously. But many schools are already closed, after the virus spread among children or teachers.

“The educational continuity of our children in primary and secondary education” will be assured has reassured Edouard Fritch. But contamination levels call for “a strong reaction” : we note nearly 40% of student absenteeism in primary and nearly 30% in secondary.

Containment and curfew

Concretely, “the prohibition of movement becomes, temporarily, the rule”. Outings will only be authorized with a certificate and only to go to work, to be treated or vaccinated, to assist a vulnerable person, or to make essential purchases.

Non-essential shops, leisure activities, restaurants and bars “will have to temporarily cease their activity” and “leisure travel will be temporarily suspended”, detailed the High Commissioner. Finally, the curfew, which ran from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., “will be brought forward to start at 8 p.m. throughout French Polynesia”.

Tourists can stay … but confined

The Marquesas, Austral and Tuamotu Gambier Islands are not affected by these new measures, but will have to continue to respect containment “only on weekends” already in place.

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The approximately 9,000 tourists present on the various islands have, for the moment, no obligation to leave the territory. “but they will have to stay in their hotels and will be subject to confinement”.

“War medicine”

After having redeveloped almost all of its services, the hospital resolved on Friday to open new beds, bringing the total capacity to nearly 300 beds dedicated to Covid-19. The Ministry of Health has announced the dispatch of seven nurses and three anesthetists-resuscitators to Papeete.

“15 nurses from mainland France” are mobilized “since August 16”, as well as eight Caledonian nurses. “Additional reinforcements will be able to leave in the coming days”, assures the ministry, which also promises material: “nearly 450 oxygen concentrators” and “more than 50,000 protective gowns”.

Race against the Covid

“Every day, we have a plan for the next day, and the next day or two, it’s already over. We’re really in a war medicine-type situation.”, deplores Dr. Mélanie Tranchet, responsible for emergency reception.

According to Edouard Fritch, “98% of deceased people are unvaccinated”. The gravity of the situation seems to have finally raised awareness. Nearly 3,000 vaccinations were recorded on Saturday alone. But there is still a long way to go: fewer than 82,000 people are currently fully vaccinated. In total, the epidemic has killed 257 people in this community of 280,000 inhabitants, including a third since the beginning of the month.