Three Tiny British Outposts keep Covid-19 away as a Single Case could Decimate their Populations

Titan Airways landing at St Helena Credit: @SaintsDidNext Twitter

THREE of the most isolated yet inhabited islands in the world, Pitcairn Island (pop 50), St Helena (pop 4,500) and Tristan da Cunha (pop 250) are all British Overseas Territories and all are free of coronavirus Covid-19.

Pitcairn and Tristan have little contact with the outside world and no-one is now allowed to disembark from yachts that may be passing by.

St Helena however is different and after years of neglect relying on an ageing vessel to bring in supplies, an airport was opened in 2017 but wind speeds were much higher than anticipated which meant that small aircraft only could land there.


From 2017 until the pandemic, there was a weekly flight from South Africa but that was cancelled as the airline SA Airlink was grounded and there have been no flights in for many weeks.

Worried that there were two people who appeared to have exhibited symptoms associated with the virus, a decision was made to charter an aircraft from the UK to fly via Accra in Ghana to return some residents who had no other way of getting back to the island and to bring medical staff as well as test kits, ventilators and supplies.

The only available aircraft with the range yet small enough to land at St Helena was an Airbus A318 which had been used by BA to fly to New York from London City and had been passed on to charter airline Titan Airways.

What is unusual about this aircraft is that it is all business class with just 32 seats, so those travelling did so in comfort.

When it landed today (April 21) all of the returning islanders as well as medical staff were immediately taken to a newly built quarantine site where they will remain in isolation for 14 days with food delivered to their doors and each person allowed some exercise but maintaining a five metre social distance.

The two suspected cases happily turned out to be false alarms.


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