Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak has been forced to cancel a visit to Australia after contracting Covid-19 for a second time.
The news of his infection comes amid a spike in cases that have spread across the Catholic-majority country in the past week.
In a Feb. 8, statement the prime minister's office said Ruak had been due to visit Australia on Feb. 9, where he was ironically to receive an award from the Australian government regarding Timor-Leste's success in dealing with the pandemic.
"The postponement was due to health reasons" because Ruak and his wife Isabel Ferreira tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, the statement said.
It added that the test was carried out on Feb. 7 and both were in good health and following "medical recommendations that they stay home, rest, and follow health protocols until new tests are carried out."
This is the second time Ruak – who has been vaccinated against Covid-19 three times – has tested positive. The first time was in August last year.
The news comes amid a significant spike in cases across the country over the past week, which the Ministry of Health declared was a "third wave."
The ministry recorded 247 new cases on Feb. 8 the highest daily tally since September last year, bringing the number of active cases across the country to 876.
Since the start of the pandemic, Timor-Leste has recorded 20,748 cases and 122 deaths.
Vaccination efforts are still underway with 84.3 percent of the population having received at least one dose. Some 71.0 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Efforts to combat Covid-19 have been going hand in hand with efforts to stem cases of dengue fever, which from January to Feb. 9 had seen 1,799 cases and 29 deaths.
This has created serious challenges for the health sector, considering that a number of health facilities previously dedicated to Covid-19 patients, including isolation sites are now sharing space with dengue fever patients.