Border control: the COVID-19 pandemic in French Polynesia

Adelaide Tamaku is a health worker in the COVID-crisis unit in Tahiti (photo Suliane Favennec).

Event details

SSGM Event

Date & time

Thursday 14 October 2021




Nic Maclellan



There is growing attention to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fiji, Papua New Guinea and other independent Pacific nations. But there has been little focus on French Polynesia, the country with the highest per capita rate of coronavirus infection in our region. Despite this, the French Pacific dependency is a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia has recently opened a consulate-general in Papeete and France-Australia relations are in the news!

This seminar will discuss the course of the pandemic in French Polynesia, after the re-opening of French Polynesia’s borders in July 2020 led to a massive surge of cases. There has been a second wave of COVID-19 following the visit to French Polynesia by French President Emmanuel Macron in July 2021. By 30 September, there were more than 44,942 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 620 deaths in a population of nearly 280,000.

The presentation by journalist Nic Maclellan will discuss commonalties and differences between French Polynesia and other island nations, including: the challenge of maintaining border controls in a non-self-governing territory; competing economic, social and health impacts affecting government revenue and local livelihoods; the impact on key industries like tourism; the importance of testing and vaccination in controlling the pandemic; and contrasting policies between French Polynesia and other French colonial dependences.

About the Speaker

Nic Maclellan is a correspondent for Islands Business magazine. He reports widely on French policy in the Pacific and is co-author of La France dans le Pacifique - de Bougainville à Moruroa (Editions La Découverte, Paris) and After Moruroa – France in the South Pacific (Ocean Press, New York and Melbourne).

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