Vanuatu doubles quarantine period, halts domestic travel to Efate

Port Vila airport
Security at Port Vila's airport ... domestic travel connections to the main island Efate have been halted. Image: Hilaire Bule/RNZ Pacific

By RNZ Pacific

The capital island of Vanuatu – Efate – is closed off today after the country’s first case of covid-19 was announced yesterday.

Stricter quarantine rules are also in place.

A ni-Vanuatu man who arrived in Port Vila from the US, via Australia and New Zealand, was confirmed with the coronavirus on Tuesday during routine testing.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman said the Council of Ministers had agreed that the period of quarantine for citizens being repatriated would now double to 28 days.

As well, Loughman announced that domestic travel connections to the main island Efate were being halted.

He said the council also agreed that all ni-Vanuatu citizens and residents wanting to return home from abroad must show negative test results at least 72 hours before departing for Vanuatu.

The man, who was asymptomatic, arrived in Vanuatu on November 4.

High-risk location
The government said that because he had been travelling from a high-risk location he was seated separately during flights and physical distancing was carried out at all times.

The man has been transferred to an isolation facility at the Vila Central Hospital in Vanuatu’s capital.

Loughman said that the government through its covid-19 taskforce was “prepared and ready” to keep the case contained.

He urged the public to co-operate with all frontline government agencies as they carry out their duties.

“There will be no restrictions on flights and ships bringing in cargo to the island of Efate, but the island of Efate will go on lockdown, meaning there will be no domestic travel to the island of Efate,” Loughman said.

“Anyone not respecting the new directives will be dealt with.”

Meanwhile, health authorities in Vanuatu are undertaking contact tracing for people who came in contact with the positive case.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

Vanuatu PM Bob Loughman
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman …”Anyone not respecting the new directives will be dealt with.” Image: Hilaire Bule/RNZ Pacific
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