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Timor Leste

Timor-Leste's prime minister tests positive for Covid-19

Taur Matan Ruak catches the virus despite being fully vaccinated as the country battles a surge in cases

Timor-Leste's prime minister tests positive for Covid-19

Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak receives his second Covid-19 vaccination jab in June. (Photo: PM’s official website)

Timor Leste’s Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak has tested positive for Covid-19 amid a surge in new cases in the Catholic-majority country, a senior government official announced on Sept. 1.

The 64-year-old premier, who was fully vaccinated against the virus in June, is self-isolating at home under the care of medical workers, Council of Ministers chairman Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhaes said.

“We are grateful that the prime minister has already had two jabs of the Covid-19 vaccine,” he told reporters in Dili. “His condition is improving.” 

With a population of about 1.3 million, Timor-Leste continues to record significant daily increases in cases after initially succeeding in keeping the pandemic under control when it first hit the country last year.

As of Sept. 1, there were 4,480 active cases, bringing the number of infections to 16,941 since the pandemic began, according to the country’s Integrated Crisis Management Center.

The death toll stands at 72, with more than half of them occurring since last month. On Sept. 1, five deaths were recorded, the highest in a single day.

Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers has decided to extend a lockdown in the capital Dili to Sept. 9, including for those who have been fully vaccinated. Mass gatherings, including religious activities, are prohibited.

The government has also implemented strict social restrictions elsewhere, including along the border with Indonesia.

Timor-Leste continues to increase vaccination efforts which have seen 754,800 people over the age of 18, some 51.6 percent of the population, receiving their first jab while 26.1 percent have been fully vaccinated.

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