Up until very recently, the COVID-19 news from Timor-Leste was rather encouraging, as few cases were reported and people responded to social distancing and mask-wearing well.
Churches had been closed, but parishes were ensuring that people had enough food. The parish of Motael is assisting 500 families.
In the past few weeks the situation has deteriorated as a number of people have been entering Timor from Indonesia. The border between west and east Timor is porous, with few checkpoints. Timor-Leste had recorded around 100 cases of COVID, but that has grown in the last few days to over 300. Indonesia proper has recorded close to 1.38 million cases and more than 37,000 deaths. There is concern that the movement of people may cause the virus to spread, thus threatening the Timorese people and their poorly equipped healthcare system.
The two largest towns, Dili and Baucau, are in lockdown. The Commonwealth government has included Timor-Leste in its plan to assist Pacific nations through the crisis and has sent humanitarian supplies.
The Council of Ministers has approved a national vaccination plan, with 33,000 doses expected to arrive in the country at the end of March. Timor-Leste has a population of 1.2 million people.