Coronavirus in Chile MAPUCHE

Schools Reopen on Easter Island With Outbreak Under Control

EASTER ISLAND – With schools closed in all regions in the country, Easter Island, 3,600 kilometers off the coast of Chile, is set to reopen all schools. The island was quick to implement strict coronavirus measures and has had only five positive cases since the outbreak. According to the mayor of the island, overcoming the virus is partially thanks to an ancient tradition.

Schools on Easter Island (also called Rapa Nui), started reopening on July 1. Students in the last year of secondary school were first to return, with primary schools opening their doors this week –  a victory for the island in sharp contrast with schools on Chile’s mainland, which have been closed since March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The island was put in quarantine on March 19, although it had no confirmed cases at the time. Six days later, on March 24, the first case was detected. In total, only five people there have tested positive since the first case, and, on April 5, local authorities lifted the quarantine and curfew. Easter Island still has a sanitary customs office for people who wish to enter the island.

Students who return to schools are obliged to wear face masks and have temperature checks before entering the premises. At one of the four schools on the island, students were welcomed with a traditional “Umu” ceremony to inaugurate the return to classes.

According to  the remote island’s mayor, Pedro Edmunds, in an interview with Emol, the fact that the island was able to overcome the virus had to do with him invoking an ancestral Polynesian concept called “Tapu” (taboo). A “tapu” is a prohibition Polynesian elders or authorities can impose. In this case, the “tapu” was applied to force people to maintain distance from one another and stay at home as much as possible. “When I invoked tapu between March 26 and May 31 to rule out all possibility of contagions on the island, the entire community obeyed,” Edmunds said.

Also read:

The Fight of Coastal Citizens to Keep Out Covid-19

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