Life on the most remote inhabited island in the world

Hi all

I’m not sure how many of you have heard about the urgent call for medical supplies for Tristan, or about the virus which has apparently gripped the island.  While it is true that we have  been exposed to a rather nasty flu, which has left quite a few of the islanders chesty and wheezy, we are not, as the newspapers would have you think, on death’s door either.  Carel (our Doc) apparently asked for some extra provisions, as a precaution – not because of a dire need at the moment 

Some of the news reports below for your further information, and as an example of how things have been exaggerated (although, I guess we should be grateful it got a mention at all):

Virus-hit island seeks urgent aid

Britons living in what is described as the remotest community in the
world are seeking help after the outbreak of an acute virus.
Many of the 271 British citizens living on the volcanic island of
Tristan da Cunha, in the south Atlantic, have developed severe
breathing problems.

They need to ensure that their current medical supplies do not run out.

An international operation to provide help is being led by the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office.

BBC world affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge said the islanders
were being affected by what appears to be an outbreak of
viral-inducted asthma, which causes severe breathing problems.

Tristan da Cunha’s one resident doctor, a South African, has issued an
appeal for medical supplies.

The South African Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre was alerted first
and informed British coastguards.

The volcanic island has no airstrip, making getting medicines there

However, merchant ships in the area are unlikely to have the necessary
drugs on board and a coastguard spokesman said there were no British
military vessels nearby at present.

Viruses have swept through the island before but Michael Swales,
chairman of the Tristan da Cunha association, said he could not recall
medicines becoming exhausted on previous occasions.

He said there was particular concern about the health of the elderly
and the very young.


Tristan da Cunha is situated 2,800 km west of Cape Town, South Africa,
and is part of a small group of islands.

It was at one time on the main trading route between Europe and the
Indian Ocean, but the small community living there is now extremely

The community of 275 people describe themselves as living in the
world’s most isolated settlement.

The island is famous for a mass evacuation to Southampton in the 1960s
after a volcano erupted.

The main island is about 38 sq miles (98 sq km) and the currency is
the British pound.

Tristan da Cunha asthma situation is not an emergency, no mystery virus

Tuesday, 04 December 2007
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Administrator, on the island of
Tristan da Cunha, has stated that the medical situation is not an
A number of people have developed symptoms of asthma after contracting
what appears to be a cold virus, not some mystery virus as reported
elsewhere. At present, there are sufficient drugs on the island to
treat all those affected, but there is some concern that these could
run out if many more succumbed.

No scheduled delivery of drugs by ship will take place for many weeks,
but other islands – including St Helena – have been alerted and
informed that a request for drug supplies might be made.

Cathy McLean


Britons living in what has been described as the remotest community in the world are seeking help after the outbreak of an acute virus. Many of the 271 British citizens living on the volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha, in the south Atlantic, have developed severe breathing problems. Rosemary Glass, who lives on Tristan Da Cunha, told BBC Radio Cornwall what was happening:

“It’s a very bad virus going around that’s making people chesty-like, and it’s hard for them to breathe, especially the older people and the younger children, and a few of the older people are in hospital but I think they’ve run out of medication for, you know, to help them, like oxygen and nebulisers and inhalers and such things like that.”

Mrs Glass said that facilities on Tristan da Cunha were very limited for treating such a widespread outbreak:

“At the moment there are three (patients) in hospital and our hospital is not (an) enormous hospital, because sometimes it may be two or three years before you ever get a patient in, and so there’s only about four beds, so if they’re all taken the other ones have to stay in bed at home.”

The BBC have a report at following website reporting a serious asthma virus attack affecting a large number of islanders resulting in breathing problems. Drugs are desperately needed not available on the island. The only possibility of quickly getting the required drugs would seem to be an airdrop from SA.We are all well – Caitlin was quite ill about two weeks ago with the flu/cold thing and a little chesty, but seems to be doing just fine now.  Erik has also been a little chesty, but is also fine and is more in need of sleep due to continuous fishing, than anything else.  It’s been really hot here, but otherwise, things are progressing as normal.  A few of the older people on the island have come down with chest infections, and are in hospital, however, some of them have been poorly for a while, and are not suddenly in danger because of this flu.

There has been a number of people who have written via different mediums to express support and ask if they can help in anyway.  Thank you all for thinking about us. 

Colin Brewer – thank you for offering to help – your thought was really, really appreciated.


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