While only 30% of the population of New Caledonia has received the two doses, vaccination against the coronavirus will become compulsory for all adults of the archipelago, after a decision unanimously adopted Friday by the congress of the New Caledonia.
This obligation will also apply to all travelers wishing to travel to the archipelago, a rare territory in the world still free from Covid-19. Unvaccinated people will be refused entry to the territory. It does not apply to minors or to people with a medical contraindication.
The measure is the subject of a broad political consensus in New Caledonia. It should allow, according to the local government, to give a boost to vaccination. To date, only 30% of the population eligible for the vaccine has a complete vaccination schedule, or 71,000 people out of the 270,000 inhabitants of the archipelago.
The authorities are worried about a possible introduction of the virus into Caledonia, which they consider very likely due to the high contagiousness of the Delta variant, despite the strict quarantine conditions imposed on people authorized to enter the territory. The low vaccination rate also thwarts the government’s desire to reopen the borders on December 31.
Experts believe that only vaccination coverage of at least 60% could prevent the health system from collapsing in the event of an epidemic. The lack of specialized personnel is glaring in New Caledonia, in particular because of the restrictions on access to the territory put in place in March 2020 due to the health crisis.
The text voted on Friday, however, does not provide for the moment of sanction for people who refuse to be vaccinated. On the other hand, a fine of 175,000 Pacific Francs (1,475 euros) will be imposed on people exercising a profession deemed to be at risk (airport agents, health personnel) not vaccinated before December 31. “But if we see that this is not enough, we will also introduce sanctions for the general population,” said Milakulo Tukumuli, chairman of the standing committee of the congress.