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Where is Kiribati located? Remote Pacific Ocean island nation goes into lockdown after first Covid case

Two-thirds of passengers who arrived in Kiribati were diagnosed with Covid - sending the country into lockdown for the first time

A Covid-free nation has recorded its first case of the virus after keeping safe for the whole pandemic.

Kiribati opened its borders to the first internationl flight in ten months - only for two-thirds of passengers to test positive.

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The health blow has meant Kiribati is now set to hold a four-day lockdown - as coronavirus cases have spread within the community.

So, where is Kiribati and when is the country imposing lockdown restrictions?

Where is Kiribati?

Kiribati, pronounced Kiribas, is an island country in the central Pacific Ocean, located near Samoa and Fiji.

The 33 islands of Kiribati, of which only 21 are inhabited, are scattered over a vast area of ocean and grouped into three: the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands, and the Line Islands.

The country is an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations and is home to about 120,000 people.

Kiribati was used for US and British nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s and now has a large coconut plantation and fish farms as well as several satellite telemetry stations.

The vast majority of people speak Gilbertese (or I-Kiribati) but English, which is the official language, is also widely spoken, especially in the capital of Tarawa.

Why is the country being forced to follow lockdown rules?

Before the flight from Fiji landed on 14 January, the country had never faced the threat of Covid before.

On board the flight to Kiribati were 54 passengers, the majority of whom tested positive for Covid upon arrival.

Reports say that 36 people were diagnosed with the virus - though they are now in quarantine and are recovering well, according to authorities.

But the virus is now in the community at a time when Fiji is battling it’s third wave of Covid.

When is the country going into lockdown?

From 31 January the country will be plunged into lockdown for four days with local lockdown already in place in one area.

Schools will be shut and people will only be able to leave their homes for essential items.

It comes as one security guard from the quarantine centre also tested positive on 18 January.

His case has prompted officials to introduce a two week curfew.

Health chiefs have brought in additional restrictions including mask wearing and social distancing.

If nationals travel outside the capital of Tarawa they also must show their vaccine passports.

Two people the security guard was in contact with were also told to quarantine - as his village is now placed into a two week lockdown.

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