Beach body off Pacific LPG ship throws Vanuatu capital into covid lockdown

Body on Pango beach
The body found last week on Pango beach near Port Vila, Vanuatu ... a Filipino national. Image: TPN

The Pacific Newsroom

Vanuatu’s capital island of Efate has gone into covid-19 lockdown for three days after a body was found on a beach near Port Vila.

The body, which tested positive for covid, was that of a Filipino crewman from the British-flagged liquified petroleum gas carrier Inge Kosan, a medium range tanker that supplies Pacific ports.

Inge Kosan was due today in Honiara, Solomon Islands, but has been detained in Port Vila.

Inge Kosan on MarineTracker
The MV Inge Kosan as positioned by MarineTracker. The ship is shown as a red dot. Image: TPN

Usually Inge Kosan sails to Vanuatu from ports on Australia’s east coast.

The body, which has yet to be named, was found on April 11 at Pango village beach, about 11 km from where the ship is now moored.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office said that after the body was found it had been taken to the Vanuatu Central Hospital morgue where a covid test was conducted. It tested positive.

Police officers who handled the body have been tested and isolated. Contact tracing is underway.

Authorities said chances of community transmission were small.

Vanuatu’s opposition leader Ralph Regenvanu tweeted on the news: “So while imposing admirably strict quarantine protocols on all ports of entry into the country, we did not foresee that a dead body washed ashore and put in the only mortuary in the country where people gather to mourn every day could be carrying the COVID-19 virus.”

Contact tracing
RNZ Pacific reports that as contact tracing began today, Director-General of Health, Russell Tamata, confirmed that 16 people had been put in quarantine at Ramada Hotel.

Most of them were police officers who attended the scene when the body was discovered.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman said business would operate as usual but he appealed to the people to abide by covid-19 safety protocols such as social distancing.

The dead body of the Filipino was still at the mortuary at Vila Central.

Vanuatu has reported only three previous cases of covid-19, all at the border.

The MV Inge Kosan
The British-flagged liquified petroleum gas carrier Inge Kosan. Image: TPN

Republished from The Pacific Newsroom with permission.

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