Micronesia is the last of the largest nations to have an outbreak of COVID-19

Micronesia likely became the last country in the world with a population of over 100,000 to experience a COVID-19 outbreak.

For more than two and a half years, the Pacific archipelago managed to avoid any epidemic thanks to its geographical isolation and border controls. People who arrived in the country with the disease did not spread it because all new arrivals had to be quarantined.

But as has been the case in several other Pacific countries this year, these defenses have not been able to prevent the more transmissible omicron variant indefinitely.

On Tuesday, the government announced that it had become aware of several cases in two of the country’s four states.

Authorities said in Kosrae state, 25 people tested positive after presenting to a local hospital. Ten other people from a family of 11 tested positive after a medical team visited them.

Authorities said they also found seven community cases in Pohnpei state. Heads of state have asked all residents to avoid public gatherings and wear masks at all times.

The outbreak comes less than two weeks before Micronesia plans to end its quarantine restrictions and reopen its borders to the world on August 1.

Last year, Micronesia became one of the few countries to impose a broad mandate requiring all eligible citizens to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. He threatened to withhold federal funds from any individual or business owner who broke the rules and as a result vaccination rates were high.

Almost every nation in the world has now experienced outbreaks of COVID-19.

Turkmenistan is the only other country with more than 100,000 people to have reported no cases, although experts believe there was a significant outbreak there that autocratic rulers chose to ignore.

Health officials also had a headache compiling North Korea’s numbers.

In May, North Korea acknowledged having had an outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, it has reported nearly 4.8 million cases with symptoms of fever, but state media has only identified a fraction of them as confirmed COVID-19 patients, in part because a lack of test kits.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, the omicron variant has spread the coronavirus to several small countries for the first time this year, including Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru.

Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands have so far managed to avoid any community outbreaks. The Marshall Islands plans to end its border quarantine requirements from October 1.

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