COVID-19 pandemic

Samoa brings first of its Covid stranded seafarers home

Twenty-seven seafarers were among close to 300 passengers on the Friday's flight from New Zealand.

The group are now undergoing the government's mandatory 14-days quarantine.

The seafarers, who had worked for Switzerland-registered Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), traveled from Dubai to Auckland to catch the flight home.

Earlier the Samoan government had been accused of abandoning seamen stranded around the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pacific Heads of Customs administrations pledge to work together

At the conclusion of the OCO Heads Annual Conference on October 20, themed “Working together to build a safer Blue Pacific”, leaders of Customs administrations in the region stated the loss in revenue collection for their governments due to the closure of borders as their biggest cost of COVID-19.

However, in addition to generating revenue for their governments, Customs administrations are increasingly being presented with other challenges such as the rise of illicit drugs, contraband goods and having to crew quarantine centers.

Victoria to ease lockdown as cases fall

From Monday, people will be able to travel further and meet up with more friends without a time limit on how long they spend outside the home.

But strict measures remain in place for restaurants and retailers, limiting them to takeaway and delivery options.

The city of Melbourne, which has been under stricter lockdown, will also have rules eased.

As of 19 October, in Melbourne:

People can travel up to 25km (15 miles) from their home for exercise or shopping

Gatherings of up to 10 people from two different households are allowed

Aucklanders lost 200 jobs a day during August lockdown

Auckland Council's economic team, which has tallied the cost, said the total 4205 jobs lost in the region were 60 percent of the national total for the month.

Its chief economist David Norman said the city's job losses averaged 200 a day - which was fewer than the 250 a day forecast in alert level 3, but still high.

"These are real people. It's lives and families to support, and a lot of them lost their jobs; over 400. So that's a real impact".

France to impose night-time curfew to battle second wave

The measure - from 21:00 to 06:00 - will come into effect from Saturday and last for at least four weeks, Mr Macron said in a televised interview.

"We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," he said.

A public health emergency has also been declared. A further 22,951 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Wednesday.

Now was not the time for "conviviality", Mr Macron explained, saying that the virus is spreading at parties and "festive evenings".

Critical mental health services disrupted by pandemic, says WHO

In its latest survey, the WHO found demand for mental health services was increasing as problems with bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear mounted.

Mental health services in the region were chronically underfunded before the pandemic, it said, with less than 2 percent of national health budgets allocated to the sector.

But now, things had gotten worse, with most countries recording an increase in need and a severe disruption to what limited services are offered.

Bars and restaurants 'reaching point of no return'

Bars and pubs in Liverpool have been instructed to close from Wednesday and will receive financial support.

But venues in "tier 2" areas, including large parts of the North and Midlands, will lose custom, with households no longer allowed to mix indoors.

Many were already "reaching the point of no return", UK Hospitality said.

And these businesses would experience "the worst of both worlds", not being eligible for the extra assistance outlined last week, the industry group said.

Australia in talks over quarantine-free travel

The first agreement would be with New Zealand, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Other nations that could follow suit are Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Pacific Island nations.

Australia closed its borders in March, early into the pandemic.

To date, it has recorded 27,263 cases and 898 deaths.

It has fared better than other nations but recently saw a second wave in the state of Victoria, forcing Melbourne and its surrounding areas into another lockdown. Infections have fallen dramatically since.

Movie-going could 'become extinct' warns director

Her new superhero movie has been delayed three times during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jenkins is among dozens of top Hollywood directors appealing to the US government to provide a financial lifeline to cinemas.

Her warning comes as cinemas in the UK are also struggling with a recent spate of delayed film releases.

"If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process," she said in an interview with Reuters news agency. "We could lose movie theatre-going forever."

Tonga and Samoa keen to be back on the field

The match was meant to take place in Apia in April but was postponed due to Covid-19.

A final date and venue is yet to be confirmed but RNZ Pacific understands the qualifying match will be held on November 14th at the 2021 World Cup venue Waitakere Stadium.

Tonga assistant coach, Sione Pulu, said their squad is excited to get back on the field again after a dramatic campaign which involved a measles outbreak, visa entry complications and a global pandemic. (links)

"I think we're still lucky it's going ahead," he said.