Micronesia is facing its first outbreak of COVID-19, with more than 2,000 new cases within a week.
The island federation had previously avoided COVID-19 thanks to strict border controls and geographic isolation. It is the last nation with a population of over 100,000 to be drawn into the global pandemic.
Health officials reported 140 new cases Monday, according to the Associated Press. Eight citizens have been hospitalized and one older man has died from the disease.
Richard Clark, press secretary to Micronesia’s President David Panuelo, said in a news release that “as of July 26 the nation has recorded 2,072 cases of COVID-19, of which 90% of positive results were identified beginning just four days prior,” as reported by the Guam Daily Post.
Authorities have responded forcefully, mandating masks everywhere with a $1,000 fine for violators along with vaccinations for eligible citizens. Health officials say 75% of Micronesians over the age of five are vaccinated.
The outbreak is currently contained in the two states of Pohnpei and Kosrae, with the two more populous states of Yap and Chuuk currently uninfected according to the Guam Daily Post.
Specialized help from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to arrive later this week.
The domestic Micronesian response to the outbreak is currently being hampered by the infection of much of Micronesia’s government.
Mr. Clark said in a news release that “In at least two FSM government departments, the bulk of senior officials … are positive for COVID-19.”