Kiribati and several other small Pacific nations were among the last places on Earth to have avoided any virus outbreaks, including the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to their remote locations and strict border controls.
However, Kiribati reportedly began opening its borders this month, allowing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries to charter a plane. This was in order to bring home 54 Mormon citizens who had left the country in Oceania to spread the faith abroad.
The returning passengers were reportedly tested three times in Fiji, required to be vaccinated, and put in quarantine with additional testing when they entered their home country. Apparently, the said safety protocol was not enough against the highly contagious omicron variant as more than half of them tested positive for coronavirus.
Since then, the initial 36 positive cases from the said flight had reportedly gone up to 181 cases by Friday, which prompted the government to declare a state of disaster.