No restrictions in Vanuatu despite first COVID-19 case

Vanuatu authorities are not enforcing any restrictions, for now, maintaining ‘scenario 2a’ measures despite recording its first case of COVID-19 today.

Addressing the nation, Vanuatu Prime Minister  Bob Loughman confirmed the country’s first COVID-19 case, in quarantine. The nature of the case activates the country’s scenario 2a phase that allows gatherings, school and work to continue without restrictions, but heightened awareness on proper hygiene prompting the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce to issue a reminder urging its members to communicate the meaning of the process to their workers to avoid undue panic.

The country’s first case involves a 23-year-old ni-Vanuatu man who arrived into Vanuatu via a repatriation flight from the United States of America on Wednesday 4 November. He returned a positive result on the fifth day of testing in quarantine despite showing no symptoms upon his arrival.

The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged members to reassure their workers ‘and there is no need to panic, immediately return to the hand-washing levels seen in April, stay up to date with all government plans and follow closely public advise and develop response plans for if we move to scenario 2b or scenario 3.

Travel and gathering restrictions will only be enforced when ‘scenario 2b or scenario 3’ are achieved, ie, when local or community cases are detected.

Meanwhile, the young man has since been transferred to the isolation facility at Vila Central Hospital. A statement from the Vanuatu Health Ministry said that they had identified the man during pre-travel registration as travelling from a higher-risk located and was seated separately at the back of the plane. 

“He was screened and transported separately from other arriving passengers. The case did not share a room with anyone else at the quarantine facility and is reported to have adhered to all appropriate measures throughout the travel and quarantine process.”

Since 1 August 2020, Vanuatu placed 2,193 people arriving from 21 countries in quarantine. Of this, 2,029 have been released and 164 remain in quarantine.

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