Nauru declares 'state of emergency' to manage coronavirus pandemic

Nauru has declared a state of emergency to manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nauru is the smallest nation on Earth.

Nauru is the smallest nation on Earth. Source: Getty

The tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru has declared a state of emergency to “manage and minimise” the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration signed by President Lionel Rouwen Aingimea on Monday was posted on the government’s website on Tuesday and is effective immediately for 30 days.

“Nauru is particularly vulnerable to the threat of the coronavirus,” the Nauru government tweeted adding, “the global impact indicates that should this virus enter Nauru, the results could be devastating.”

“This is a risk your Government is not willing to take. Our first and foremost objective is to protect our people.”

The tiny former Australian-British-New Zealand protectorate has a population of about 11,000 people and more than 200 refugees and asylum seekers undergoing Australian off-shore processing.

Declaration of 'State of Emergency' in Nauru.
Source: Government of Nauru

The government has suspended all international passenger flights to Nauru - except one a fortnight to Brisbane where the national carrier has its headquarters - but air freight will continue with strict quarantine measures.

“All persons travelling to Nauru will be required to spend up to 14 days in approved transition accommodation before being allowed back into the community,” the government said on social media.

The Asia Development Bank describes Nauru as "the world’s smallest island nation, facing acute development challenges including distance from international markets, uncertain sources of future revenue, and inadequate infrastructure".

Published 17 March 2020 at 8:13pm, updated 17 March 2020 at 8:17pm
By Stefan Armbruster