It was sometime in early March when a passenger with Covid-19 landed at the world’s most remote commercial airport, disembarked into Easter Island’s sticky air and subsequently infected members of the small volcanic outcrop’s indigenous Rapa Nui community. This 164-sq-km speck in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean is a Chilean territory famed for its 887 monolithic human figures, known as moai. But with just three ventilators to serve a population of 7,750, Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa made the tough decision to cancel all incoming flights beginning 16 March, effectively terminating the 2020 tourism season.
Cases on the island grew to a total of just five thereafter, and by the end of April, the virus had been completely eradicated – while mainland Chile suffered from one of the globe’s most explosive outbreaks. While Easter Island’s isolation 3,500km west of the Chilean coast certainly helped, Edmunds Paoa credits the island’s success to one key containment measure: tapu, an ancient Polynesian tradition that’s been passed down through generations… (continue reading at the BBC).