One of the world’s last COVID free country is now under lockdown after a charted plane by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought the virus to the remote island of Kiribati.
Shortly after the pandemic began in 2020, the island nation had closed its borders even to its own citizens.
Some missionaries who returned home to Kiribati on a flight chartered by the church last month had been away for more than 3 1⁄2 years, church spokesman Sam Penrod told the Deseret News.
Every passenger was vaccinated and tested negative for COVID three times.
“The government of Kiribati authorized the flight, but with strict COVID-19 requirements for entering the country,” said Penrod, the church spokesman. “All of these requirements were met including vaccination for the passengers, multiple negative COVID-19 PCR tests, and a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. During this quarantine, several of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19. The 38 missionaries, who will all be released from their missionary service upon completion of the quarantine period, are cooperating fully with local health authorities.”
The flight marks the first plane to arrive since the country reopen its borders, the Washington Post reported. Up until now, they only had recorded 2 infections from ship passengers.
The arrival of the missionaries marks the greatest threat to the island since the pandemic started.
Currently Kiribati vaccinated 90% of its citizens with 53% who have had 2 shots.
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