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French Polynesia

Australian newlyweds bring Covid-19 to New Caledonia

File photo of New Caledonia-based Aircalin Airbus plane
File photo of New Caledonia-based Aircalin Airbus plane © AFP - PASCAL PAVAN

The first two Covid-19 cases have arrived in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, according to local government officials. A newlywed couple from Sydney, Australia arrived on Wednesday on their honeymoon and were immediately placed in quarantine after showing symptoms of the disease.

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The couple tested positive, according to a statement released by the local government, and are now in isolation.

All schools, public and private, will be shut as of Thursday evening, according to official decree, while boarding schools will remain open until Friday.

“This situation requires calm and responsibility. Each of us must strictly apply the prevention and safety instructions,” says the statement, adding that there is a crisis unit in place that is putting together safety measures to protect all New Caledonians.

Local media Nouvelle Caledonie reports that former president of the Congress of New Caledonia, politician Thierry Santa, will speak to islanders on Thursday morning to unveil a plan of action.

At least three cases in Tahiti

French Polynesia representative in the French National Assembly, Maina Sage, was the first person in the territory to contract the virus, according to officials. She tested positive on 10 March after returning from Paris. She had come into contact with French Culture Minister Franck Riester, who also has the virus.

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Record-breaking flight to block coronavirus spread

Meanwhile, Air Tahiti-Nui, the airline serving French Polynesia’s largest island, broke passenger flight distance records last weekend, flying 15,715 kilometres from Papeete, Tahiti to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport in one 16-hour flight.

The airline was obliged to do so after US travel restrictions were imposed on all flights.

The flight path normally includes a stopover at Los Angeles. International passengers transiting through the US must disembark and proceed through federal Customs and Border Protection before getting back on board.

Flight TN064 did not stop, leaving Papeete at 0300 hours local time and arriving in Paris at 0630 local time on 15 March.

The twin-engine Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner broke the record for the number of kilometres travelled, and was able to do so because the flight was not full and did not have to refuel.

French Polynesia is part of France, so TN064 also qualifies as the world’s longest domestic flight.

Air France has announced the suspension of all flights from Paris to Papeete between 28 March and 3 May.

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