11 Nov 2020

Vanuatu has its first Covid-19 case

3:03 pm on 11 November 2020

Vanuatu has recorded its first official case of Covid-19.

The Director of Public Health, Dr Len Tarivonda, said the infected man had flown to Vanuatu from the United States, via Sydney and Auckland.

Security at Port Vila's airport

Photo: RNZ Pacific / Hilaire Bule

The man, who was asymptomatic, was confirmed with the coronavirus on Tuesday during routine fifth day testing.

He had arrived in Vanuatu on 4 November but the Ministry of Health said because he had been identified as travelling from a high-risk location he was seated separately during flights and physical distancing was carried out at all times.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman officially announced the confirmed case in a press conference during which he sought to reassure the public of their safety.

"I want to assure all citizens and the public that the situation is under control and the government through the [Covid-19] taskforce is prepared and ready to address this case.

"I also want to remind the public that they must co-operate with all front-line government agencies as the work to carry out their duties."

Loughman said the infected person was transferred to the isolation facility at the Vila Central Hospital.

He said contact tracing was underway and all close contacts of the individual would also be put into quarantine.

The prime minister said at this stage there was no need for a lockdown but people are advised to be extra vigilant in following good hygiene practices and to practice social distancing.

"The government through the Covid-19 taskforce will continue to give the public up to date information on the Covid-19 situation and this case in particular," he said.

Loughman said authorities would advise if any further measures needed to be taken in the coming days.

The Leader of Opposition Ralph Regenvanu took to social media to say the case "is manageable" since there was only one victim and they weren't in the general population.