Background: Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have health care systems with a limited capacity to deal with pandemics, making them especially vulnerable to the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This paper examines the introduction, transmission, and incidence of COVID-19 into Pacific SIDS.
This note presents three important facts on the COVID-19 pandemic and 22 developing countries, namely those in the Pacific. First, social protection systems are less common in the Pacific than in the rest of the world, meaning the region is not particularly well equipped to deal with the sharp decline in economic activity associated with the disease and standard policy responses (e.g., lockdowns) without plunging a large share of the population into poverty.
While COVID-19 continues to be a health emergency, it is quickly turning into an economic crisis in most East Asian countries. Measures introduced to contain the pandemic are having wide-ranging economic effects; disrupting tourism and travel, supply chains and labour supply, and feeding into lower economic growth. Rolling recessions producing sharp rises in unemployment and poverty seem inevitable. Although the main responses will be national, both ASEAN and ASEAN+3 should be able to play a bigger role, especially absent global leadership.