Many answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 can be found under the Things to Know and Things to Do sections.
Below are some other frequently asked questions the Ministry of Health has received.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases. The novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously detected. This virus causes what is called Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
5 things to do
5 Samting blong Mekem
Wasem han blong yu oltaemWasem han blong yu wetem sop mo wota o sapos ol han blong yu oli no toti tumas , rabem han blong yu wetem wan prodak we I kat alkol long hem. Hemia bae I tekem aot vaeras we spos I stap long ol han blong yu.
Kaveremap maot mo nus blong yu long elbo blong yu o yu usum wan tisu taem yu kof mo snizSakem aot tisiu we yu usum afta we yu usum mo wasem han blong yu wetem sop mo wota o rabem han blong yu long wan prodak we I kat alkol long hem. Long fasin ia yu protektem ol narafala man long eni vaeras we I kamaot long nus o maot blong yu taem we yu kof mo sniz.
Sapos hemi posibol, stap 1 mita longwe long narafala man we I kof, sniz o kasem fivaCOVID-19 hemi save spred isi taem we yu stanap kolosap long wan man we hemi kasem vaeres ia vinis. No stap long ples we I kat tumas man I fasfas o plante long hem mo mekem sua se I kat gudfala win I blow tru long rum.
No tajem ae, nus mo maot"Ol han oli save tajem ol ples we I kat vaeres ia long hem. Sapos yu tajem ae, nus o maot wetem han we hemi toti, yu save pasem vaeres ia we I stap long ples we yu tajem I ko long yu wan. Klinim mo disinfektem ol sefes oltaem, eksampol ol sefes blong tebol, doa etc.
Sapos yuk kat fiva, kof mo no save pulum gud win, ko long wan medikal senta we I stap kolosap long yu . O Kolem helt senta fastaem blong letem I save long taem we bae yu visitFolem ol instraksen blong dokta o nes oltaem mo ol ofisol helt infomesen we hemi stap ko long pablik Taem yu kasem advaes blong Ministri blong Helt, folem ol situesen we hemi stap jenj, pripea blong werem mask mo praktisim fisikol distensing.
5 Choses ā Faire
Lavez-vous les mains fréquemmentLavez-vous les mains à l'eau et au savon et agitez bien ou, si vos mains ne sont pas visiblement sales, utilisez un désinfectant pour les mains à base d'alcool. Cela supprimera le virus s'il est entre vos mains.
Couvrez-vous la bouche et le nez avec un coude ou un mouchoir plié lorsque vous toussez et éternuezJetez immédiatement le mouchoir utilisé et lavez-vous les mains avec du savon et de l'eau ou utilisez un désinfectant pour les mains à base d'alcool. De cette façon, vous protégez les autres de tout virus libéré par la toux et les éternuements.
Si possible, gardez une distance d'au moins 1 mètre entre vous et une personne qui tousse, éternue ou a de la fièvreLa COVID-19 semble se propager plus facilement par contact étroit avec une personne infectée. Évitez le surpeuplement et assurez une bonne ventilation.
Évitez de vous toucher les yeux, le nez et la boucheLes mains touchent de nombreuses surfaces qui peuvent être contaminées par le virus. Si vous touchez vos yeux, votre nez ou votre bouche avec vos mains impures, vous pouvez transférer le virus de la surface vers vous-même. Nettoyez et désinfectez régulièrement les surfaces fréquemment touchées.
Si vous avez de la fièvre, de la toux ET des difficultés à respirer, consultez un médecin. Rendez-vous dans l'établissement de santé le plus proche. Si possible, téléphonez à l'avance et informez le centre de santé de votre visiteSuivez toujours les conseils de votre professionnel de la santé ou les avis de santé nationaux. Lorsque le Ministère de la Santé vous le conseille, en raison de l'évolution de la situation, soyez prêt à porter des masques et à pratiquer la distanciation physique.
5 Things to Do
Wash your hands frequentlyWash your hands with soap and water and shake well or, if your hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand rub. This will remove the virus if it is on your hands.
Cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when coughing and sneezingThrow away the used tissue immediately and wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. This way you protect others from any virus released through coughs and sneezes.
If possible, keep a distance of at least 1-metre between yourself and someone who is coughing, sneezing or has a feverCOVID-19 appears to spread most easily through close contact with an infected person. Avoid overcrowding and ensure there is good ventilation.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouthHands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your unclean hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself. Regularly clean and disinfect frequent touched surfaces.
If you have fever, cough AND difficulty breathing, seek medical care. Go to your nearest health facility.
Always follow the guidance of your health care professional or national health advisories. When advised by the Ministry of Health, due to the changing situation be prepared to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
If possible, phone ahead and inform the health center when you will visit
5 things to know
5 Samting blong Save
Wanem ia COVID-19?COVID-19 hemi sot nem blong Coronavirus we hemi niu mo oli no bin faenem aot bifo long man. Coronavirus hemi kam aot long wan bikfala famili blong ol vaeras we oli faenem long ol animol mo long ol human.
Wanem nao ol saen blong COVID-19?Long fulap kes, COVID-19 hemi kosem ol smol simtoms olsem nus I ron, trot I soa, kof mo fiva. Man I taet, bodi I soa mo man I lusum filing blong testem o smelem wan samting. Sik i save kam moa strong long samfala man mo save mekem oli kasem pneumonia (strong kof) o problem blong no save pulum gud win. Long sam kes, infeksen I save mekem man I ded.
Olsem wanem nao COVID-19 hemi save pas o Spred?COVID-19 hemi spred isi nomo tru long ol klosap kontak wetem wan man we hemi kasem vaeras ia. Taem we wan man we I kasem COVID-19 hemi kof o snis, ol smol droplet oli rilis mo sapos yu stap klosap tumas, bae yu kasem vaeras ia I ko insaed long lang blong yu taem we yu pulum win.
Hu nao I stap long risk?Yumi nid blong lanem moa long hao nao COVID-19 hemi afektem ol pipol. Ol olfala mo ol man we oli kat ol narafala sik olsem sik suka, hae blad presa mo sik blong hat, oli save stap long risk blong sik bigwan moa.
Wanem nao tritmen blong COVID-19?Naoia I no kat meresin blong COVID-19. I kat ol vaksin we World Health Organization (WHO) hemi bin apruvum blong protektem mo stopem transmisen blong COVID-19. COVID-19 Vaksin we bae Vanuatu hemi kasem, tru long ol strik sefti jek, kinikol trael mo kasem WHO Emejensi Use List, (EUL) we hemi shoem se hemi seif mo efektiv.
Kasem vaksin. Taem yu herem advaes tru long Ministri blong Helt, kasem COVID-19 vaksinesen.
5 Choses ā Savoir
Qu'est-ce que COVID-19?La COVID-19 est une maladie causée par un nouveau coronavirus, qui n'a pas été précédemment identifié chez l'homme. Les coronavirus sont une grande famille de virus trouvés chez les animaux et les humains.
Quels sont les symptômes du COVID-19?Dans la plupart des cas, la COVID-19 provoque des symptômes bénins, notamment un nez qui coule, un mal de gorge, une toux et de la fièvre, de la fatigue, des courbatures et des douleurs et une perte de goût ou d'odeur. Elle peut être plus grave pour certaines personnes et entraîner une pneumonie ou des difficultés respiratoires. Dans certains cas, l'infection peut entraîner la mort.
Comment la maladie de COVID-19 se propage-t-elle?La COVID-19 semble se propager plus facilement par contact étroit avec une personne infectée. Quand quelqu'un qui a la COVID-19 tousse ou éternue, de petites gouttelettes sont libérées et, si vous êtes trop près, vous pouvez respirer le virus.
Qui est le plus à risque?Nous devons encore en savoir plus sur la façon dont la COVID-19 affecte les gens. Toutes les personnes risquent de contracter la COVID-19. Les personnes âgées et les personnes souffrant d'autres problèmes de santé, comme le diabète, l'hypertension artérielle et les maladies cardiaques, semblent plus à risque de développer une maladie grave.
Quel est le traitement du COVID-19?Actuellement, il n'y a aucun traitement. Il existe des vaccins approuvés par l'Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS) pour protéger et prévenir la transmission du COVID-19. Le vaccin COVID-19 que recevra Vanuatu s'est avéré sûr et efficace, après avoir subi des contrôles de sécurité et des essais cliniques extrêmement stricts et reçu la liste des utilisations d'urgence de l'OMS. Faites-vous vacciner .Sur l'avis du Ministère de la Santé, faites-vous vacciner contre la maladie COVID-19.
5 Things to Know
What is COVID-19?COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus, which has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?In most cases, COVID-19 causes mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever, fatigue, aches and pains and loss of taste or smell. It can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. In some cases, infection can lead to death.
How does COVID-19 spread?COVID-19 appears to spread most easily through close contact with an infected person. When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or sneezes, small droplets are released and, if you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.
Who is most at risk?We still need to learn more about how COVID-19 affects people. All people are at risk to get COVID-19. Older people, and people with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, appear to be more at risk of developing severe disease.
What is the treatment for COVID-19?Currently, there is no treatment. There are vaccines approved by World Health Organization (WHO) to protect and prevent transmission of COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine that Vanuatu will receive has proven to be safe and effective, having undergone extremely strict safety checks and clinical trials and received WHO Emergency Use List. Get vaccinated .When advice by the Ministry of Health, get the COVID-19 vaccination.
How is COVID-19 transmitted?
The virus is spread primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets, when:
- An infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks and the droplets land in the mouth or are inhaled through the nose (possibly into the lungs) of persons nearby.
- A person touches a surface contaminated by droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person, and afterwards they touch their mouth or face.
These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors and surfaces.
How long can the virus survive on surfaces?
How long can the virus survive on surfaces? Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant (like bleach) to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?
Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
Can the Virus be transmitted through touching and sharing clothes or cloth?
Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).It is unknown what the likelihood is of contamination from touching or sharing clothing or cloth.
If you are handling dirty laundry from a person who is confirmed or suspected to have coronavirus, wash your hands appropriately after handling their clothing before you touch your face or other surfaces. You should also disinfect any surfaces that the clothing has come in contact with
Wash the items using laundry detergent and clean water for the items and dry the items completely (in the sun if possible) before using them again
Is it safe to share spoons, forks and plates?
Coronaviruses are sensitive to both heat and detergents (including soap). For this reason, individuals must wash dishes before another person uses the same utensils.
People have been told to bring their own cups or bottle to the nakamal for take away, but what about the people who prepare the kava?
People who are preparing the kava should take the same hygiene measures as advised by the Ministry of Health and WHO. If you are not confident that they have used these measures and think that the kava is NOT safe to drink, do not buy or drink the kava. The kava preparation area MUST have a hand washing station available.
Is it possible to get COVID-19 via untreated drinking water?
Untreated drinking water is not an identified main route of coronavirus transmission, but in many places in Vanuatu the water may be contaminated with bacteria, parasites or other viruses so it is always a good idea to boil, filter or treat water before consumption.
Can I catch COVID-19 from a person who has no symptoms?
The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms is still unclear. There is some evidence of community spread by people with no or very mild symptoms of COVID-19 but the risk is very low. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period between initial infection and transmission of the novel coronavirus and will continue to share updated findings.
How long will a person with COVID-19 remain infectious?
At this stage the research to answer this question is in very early stages, and no clear answers can be given yet.
Is it safe to have sex?
While COVID-19 isn't a sexually transmitted infection, sex will bring you in very close contact to other people and increase the risk of transmission. If you or your partner is a COVID-19 case, you should keep away from each other as much as possible. If you and your regular partner do not have symptoms and if it is unlikely that you or your partner have recently been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, it is safe to have sex.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through blood transfusion?
There is currently no data or evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, worldwide.
Can mosquitos or other vectors transmit the disease?
To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes, insects, rodents or other vectors.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates?
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt preventive measures.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don't develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
If I am infected by someone who has COVID-19, how many days will it take for me to show symptoms?
The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days. These estimates will be updated as more data becomes available.
What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?
In Vanuatu, we use the word ‘flu' for every type of respiratory disease, including the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19. The flu and COVID-19 are similar in some ways – they have similar respiratory symptoms and both are spread the same way, via small droplets of fluid from the nose and mouth of someone who is sick. However, COVID-19 can cause more severe disease than the flu, and can cause more deaths.
What are the different symptoms of a cold, influenza and COVID-19?
What are the different symptoms of a cold, influenza and COVID-19? If you have influenza, you can have fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle/body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). The symptoms of a cold are usually milder than the symptoms of influenza. People with colds are more likely to only have a runny or stuffy nose.
The symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those of influenza. However, for COVID-19, more people also have difficulty breathing.
Is diarrhoea a symptom of COVID-19?
Diarrhoea has been reported among 5 to 10% of COVID-19 cases, but is not one of the main symptoms.
How dangerous is COVID-19?
As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. Others may become very sick and require care at the hospital. It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
Does COVID-19 affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?
Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. However, people of all ages can be infected.
WHO advises people of all ages take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and maintaining a distance of 1 meter from people who are sick.
Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
How do I protect vulnerable people against COVID-19?
If people are vulnerable, for example because they have other health conditions or because they are older, they are strongly recommended to stay away from other people, except for their close family members, as much as possible.
They and their close family members should strictly follow the advice from the Ministry of Health and WHO.
Are smokers and tobacco users at higher risk of COVID-19 infection?
Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which greatly increases the risk of serious illness.
Smoking products such as e-cigarettes often involve the sharing of mouth pieces which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings. Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia.
Protective Equipment and Clothing
Who should wear a mask?
- Healthy people do not need to wear a mask. People who should wear a mask:
- Health workers and people conducting health screenings
- Individuals caring for a person with COVID-19
- Individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms who can't avoid contact with others
- Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol- based hand rub or soap and water
- If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu. If there are cases, masks will be urgently needed for health care providers caring for patients. Because masks are in short supply, everyone is better off if they are reserved for those who actually require them, such as those who can't avoid exposure to people who are or may be infected.
Should I wear gloves to protect myself against coronavirus?
No. Regularly washing your bare hand with soap and water offers more protection against COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves. You can still pick up COVID-19 contamination on rubber gloves. If you then touch your face, the virus can move from the glove to your face and infect you.
The Ministry of Health and WHO recommend regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or as long as it takes to sing happy birthday twice) to kill viruses that may be on your hands.
What should I do if I think I could have COVID-19?
If a person has returned from travel abroad within 14 days and experiences any symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, they should go to their nearest health facilities. If possible, they should call their health facilities before the visit.
If a person is suspected to have COVID-19, how will they be cared for?
Any person who is suspected of having COVID-19 based on clinical symptoms, travel history or recent contact with cases or travellers will be required to be placed in isolation. They will have to stay there for the entire time that they are ill or until laboratory test results indicate that theydo not have COVID-19. For more information on isolation, see “Quarantine and Isolation.”
How is COVID-19 treated?
If a person has confirmed COVID-19, they are provided treatment to reduce the symptoms. There is no specific medication to treat COVID-19 and no vaccine to prevent infection. You can help treat the symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, by:
- Taking the recommended dose of paracetamol to relieve fever and pains
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Eating nutritious foods
- Taking plenty of rest at home.
Does Vanuatu have enough ventilatory support for people who are suffering from COVID-19?
Vanuatu had limited ventilatory support but have recently received additional ventilatory equipment. Ventilatory support also requires a large number of trained health workers to maintain care.
The Ministry of Health has recently installed a new Oxygen Plant at VCH that will assist in treatment for those with COVID-19.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Do not use antibiotics to prevent or treat COVID- 19. People should only use antibiotics as directed by a doctor to treat a bacterial infection.
Is Chloroquine an effective treatment for COVID-19?
No. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are drugs that are approved to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. They are still being assessed in clinical trials to see if they are a safe and effective COVID-19 treatment so should not be used.
When will a vaccine be ready?
Until now, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. Possible vaccines and some specific medication for treatment are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.
WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 which must undergo a detailed and systematic assessment process to be declared safe and effective for use.
Can you have COVID-19 more than once?
Research is still being conducted on immunity from COVID-19. At this point in time, there is some data to suggest that people who have had COVID-19 and recovered become immune, meaning they are less likely to become infected again with the virus. However, this does not necessarily mean that people are unable to contract Coronavirus more than once.
What are the longer-term personal health impacts if one contracts COVID?
The long-term health effects of COVID-19 are not yet known.
When should I wash my hands?
You should wash your hands frequently. You should always wash your hands:
- After using the toilet
- Before and after eating
- After touching dirty items and surfaces inside or outside the home
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After visiting a public space, including buses, markets and churches
- After touching surfaces outside of the home, including money
- Before, during and after caring for a sick person
You should also assist others including children and people living with disabilities to wash their hands frequently.
Which soap should I use for washing my hands?
It does not matter which soap you use. Any type or brand of soap works: dish, laundry, or hand soap.
One low cost option is to mix 1.5 liters of water with 30 grams (2-3 tablespoons) of laundry powder or whatever is enough to make bubbles. By washing your hands with soap and water, you are destroying the virus and removing it from your skin.
Is it safe to use the same bar of soap with multiple people?
Yes. Soap destroys the virus, so as long as you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and you can see bubbles on the bar of soap, you can use the same bar.
Which is better: washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer?
Washing with soap and water is better. While alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills the coronavirus, it does not clean your hands if they are dirty or kill all kinds of bacteria and viruses. For example, it is relatively ineffective against the norovirus and rotavirus. Therefore, the Ministry of Health recommends washing hands with soap and water frequently.
How can I help my child wash his or her hands?
You can help children wash their hands by making handwashing easier for them, for instance, by setting up a stool or building a tippy tap close to the ground so they can reach the water and soap by themselves. You can make it fun for them by singing their favourite songs while you help them rub their hands.
Do I need to use warm water to wash my hands?
No. You can use any temperature of water to wash your hands. Cold water and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses – as long as you use soap!
Can I protect myself against COVID-19 by washing myself or my hands in the sea?
To protect yourself against COVID-19, you must wash with water and soap for at least 20 seconds, because the soap will kill the virus. You can use sea water if needed, but using sea water alone, without soap, does not work.
What should I do if I don't have enough water for handwashing?
The DoWR and WASH Cluster is working to provide water to fill community water stations. Individuals should build water efficient hand washing station, such as a tippy tap, and limit water use by not having the tap run while lathering your hands with soap (i.e. only having the tap on, while wetting and then rinsing your hands). While soap and water is preferred, hand sanitizer can be used as an alternative. Hand sanitizer should contain a minimum of 70% alcohol to effectively kill viruses and germs
I have a skin condition. Is it still ok to wash my hands often?
If you have a skin condition, for example eczema, hand-washing is generally better than hand sanitizer. Applying moisturizer after each hand-washing can offset much of the drying effects of hand-washing. If you have a skin condition, after washing your hands, pat them dry or shake them dry. Do not rub because that may damage your skin. When your skin is almost dry, apply a generous amount of moisturizer to coat the entire surface of your hands and fingers.
What is respiratory hygiene?
Respiratory hygiene is the same as cough hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately in a rubbish bin.
Droplets spread viruses. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
What is physical distancing?
Physical distancing, otherwise known as social distancing, is a term used to describe a public health measure to stop or slow down the spread of infectious diseases, like COVID-19. It means that you should reduce your physical contact with other people, which reduces your risk of getting exposed to coronavirus. People should keep 1 meter distance between themselves and other people.
Everyone should practice physical distancing measures in their daily lives to protect themselves, their families and co-workers from COVID-19. Whilst cancelling large events or gatherings play an important role, you also need to take responsibility and an active role to change your routine practices to reduce your risk of COVID-19.
How can I practise physical distancing? First and foremost, if you are sick, it is critical
First and foremost, if you are sick, it is critical that you stay home and avoid being in public spaces.
For the broader community, you should:
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from other people
- Avoid handshakes, hugging, kissing and other close contact
- Avoid crowding in public places or at events/gatherings
What is the difference between physical and social distancing?
Physical and social distancing are terms that are both often used to describe the public health measure of keeping a distance (of at least 1 metre) between yourself and other people. It helps to stop or slow down the spread of an infectious disease.
WHO and many other organisations around the world are now promoting the use of the term 'physical' distancing, rather than 'social' distancing for this practice. This is because even though we need to maintain a physical distance between ourselves and others to limit the spread of COVID-19, we should not socially distance ourselves from each other.
It is important that we maintain our social connections and contact with family, friends and our community whilst adhering to new measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We can do so by keeping at least 1 metre between ourselves and others and adhering to any restrictions put in place by the government should COVID-19 be identified in Vanuatu. We should also frequently wash our hands, uphold respiratory/cough hygiene and avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth.
Can I still touch and hug my children?
If neither you nor your children have COVID-19, you can still touch and hug your children. Make sure that you and your family follow the guidelines under ‘How do I protect myself and others from COVID-19?' at all times.
I'm pregnant or breastfeeding. How can I protect myself and my baby against COVID-19?
Research is still being conducted but at present there is no evidence that you are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population. However, due to changes in your body and immune system, pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important to take precautions against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to your healthcare provider.
Please see Pregnancy and Breastfeeding FAQs.
What food should I eat?
A healthy diet helps build your immune system and lowers the risk that you catch a disease, including COVID-19. Here are some guidelines:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Use healthy dried or canned alternatives if fresh fruit or vegetables are not available.
- Build up a stock of healthy snacks, like nuts, fruits, boiled eggs, or other locally available healthy options.
- Limit your intake of processed foods. Avoid sugary drinks and instead drink lots of water.
- Make cooking and eating a fun and meaningful part of your family routine. Cook and eat together.
- Keep clean
- Separate raw and cooked food
- Cook food thoroughly
- Keep food at safe temperatures
- Use safe water and safe raw materials
How do I keep good hygiene when preparing food?
As always, good hygiene is important when handling food to help prevent illnesses, including COVID-19:
Does a Vitamin C rich diet, or eating garlic/ginger protect against COVID-19?
There is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating a Vitamin C rich diet, garlic or ginger has protected people from COVID-19. A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition and protects against many chronic non communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The WHO recommends eating a variety of foods (including plenty of fruits and vegetables), and consuming less salt, sugars and fats.
Surveillance & Testing
How is testing currently conducted in Vanuatu?
The recommended test to diagnose COVID-19 is a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) molecular test. Most molecular tests need to be conducted in a laboratory, using a specimen that is collected using a swab from the back of your nose and throat by a trained professional. The swab is then put in a container and sent to the laboratory for testing. The laboratory then uses a sophisticated machine to looks for the genetic material of the virus. If the genetic material is found, the test is considered positive. The laboratory at VCH now has access to tests that can be used in machines that are already in Vanuatu (called the GeneXpert machine). Testing using the GeneXpert machine takes only a short amount of time and these will be conducted at VCH.
Who will be tested for COVID-19 in Vanuatu?
Global demand for the tests that can be conducted in Vanuatu (that is, using the GeneXpert test machine) means that international supplies are limited. Vanuatu has already been allocated a set number of tests. In addition, there are challenges with the international supply chain to due restricted flights. Therefore, we cannot test everybody and we need to restrict testing to people meeting certain criteria. These include:
- Those who meet the case definition. This includes people who have clinical symptoms, and travel history or contact with a COVID-19 case. The majority of people with clinical symptoms and without travel history or contact with a COVID-19 case will not be tested.
- People who have recently arrived to Vanuatu from another country. Testing will be conducted among all people who have recently arrived to Vanuatu (by sea and air). Testing will be done for all people who enter Vanuatu regardless of the country COVID-19 status they came from. People will be tested even if they do not have symptoms.
- For people exiting Vanuatu Some countries require travelers to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry to their country. Anyone leaving Vanuatu and requires a COVID-19 test, this can be organized through Vila Central Hospital. Further information is available on the Ministry of http://www.covid19.gov.vu
Testing is only one component of important surveillance activities that will help detect and stop the spread of COVID-19 in Vanuatu. Case investigation, contact tracing and syndromic surveillance are all important activities in keeping Vanuatu safe. (For more information please see our ‘Surveillance for COVID-19 in Vanuatu ’Information Sheet.).
Quarantine & Isolation
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
Isolation separates sick people with the disease from people who are not sick.
Quarantine separates people who are well but may have been exposed to the virus to monitor if they become sick.
Why use quarantine and isolation?
As part of the Vanuatu Government's preparedness to respond to potential imported cases of COVID-19, isolation and quarantine facilities are being identified. Isolation and quarantine are standard public health measures taken to protect the public by stopping or limiting the spread of a contagious disease, like COVID-19.
What is the purpose of isolation?
Isolation is used to separate sick individuals from other, uninfected people. During isolation, generally at a dedicated ward at a hospital, the patient will be isolated from other people, and will be provided appropriate medical care. Health care workers will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment to help protect them from the virus, whilst providing care to the patient.
What is the purpose of quarantine?
Individuals who are well, may be quarantined if there is a risk they may have been exposed to the virus and become sick. For example, if a person travelled on the same plane as a sick person.
Quarantining is a precautionary measure that helps reduce the risk of a contagious disease spreading. If a person is quarantined, they will be restricted to a specific location and monitored closely for 14 days to see if they become sick. If after 14 days they don't become sick, then they will be cleared and allowed to re-enter the general community.
In Vanuatu, quarantine will be required for those who are asymptomatic but have either travel history to an affected country or had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
What is hotel quarantine and how does it work?
Hotel quarantine means that a person is quarantined in a hotel, which is temporarily used as a quarantine facility. Information about how this works is found here:COVID-19 Information Sheet for Hotel uarantine
Why are people, who may have been exposed to COVID-19, quarantined for 14 days?
The quarantine period of 14 days is based on the incubation period of the virus – the time between catching the virus and when symptoms develop. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1 to 14 days, most commonly around five. In other words, if you don't develop symptoms in that two-week period, it's highly unlikely you have COVID-19.
I live close to an isolation ward or quarantine facility. Will I have to move?
No. Your risk of contracting the virus will not be increased by your proximity to the isolation ward or quarantine facility alone. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. This is why you should maintain appropriate physical distance from others (1 meter), along with handwashing, not touching one's face, and good respiratory hygiene.
Info for Businesses
How can I support good hygiene in the workplace for my employees?
- Provide a handwashing station with running water and soap at all entrances.
- Ensure regular cleaning of the toilets, workstations, equipment, office, itchen, and the immediate surroundings of the workplace buildings. Support the cleaner to create a regular and frequent cleaning regime to include regularly disinfecting surfaces, and to empty the rubbish bins regularly.
- Help your employees to maintain a hygienic workplace by providing them with supplies such as soap, boxes of tissues, and disinfectant.
- Display public health posters and messages in the workplace.
- Support working mothers to continue breastfeeding in clean and comfortable breastfeeding facilities.
As an employee, how can I support good hygiene in the workplace?
- Regularly wipe down your workstation and equipment
- Wash your cups and mugs daily
- Wash your hands with soap and water when you arrive at work and regularly throughout the day
- Adhere to the company's COVID-19 policies
- Always cover your nose and mouth in your elbow when sneezing or coughing
How can I tell my staff to protect themselves, at work and on public transport?
See under ‘How do I protect myself and others from COVID-19?'
National & Provincial Plans
What is the current situation of COVID-19 in Vanuatu?
The latest information about the situation of COVID-19 in Vanuatu, including suspected and confirmed cases, is found in the Situation Reports issued by the Ministry of Health.
Where can I access the directives and other information from NDMO?
Directives given by NDMO can be found when uploaded here: NDMO COVID-19 page
Can you give me more information on regulations about markets, shops, food stalls, kava bars, public transport and other businesses?
The regulations for opening hours and other restrictions will be updated regularly in line with NDMO's state of emergency. See NDMO COVID-19 page.
For public health guidelines for these locations please see: ‘Resources – Information Sheets.
What is the Recommendations on handling cargo ?
The World Health Organization notes that there is no data to suggest that contact with goods or products shipped from countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak have been the source of COVID-19 infection in humans . The recommended PPE used for physical protection of cargo handlers against injury does not change in the context of COVID-19, however, care must be taken to regularly clean hands and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth. There is no requirement for spraying, decontamination/cleaning or disinfection of cargo or pallets. Quarantine of cargo is not recommended and should be avoided.https://www.who.int/westernpacific/internal-publications-detail/infection-prevention-and-control-considerations-for-handling-cargo-in-the-context-of-covid-19
Can you give me more information on the measures being taken by schools and Ministry of Education and Training?
Please visit: Ministry of Education & Training Covid-19 Updates
What is the plan for rural Shefa and other provinces?
The provincial governments activate their Emergency Operation Centers (EOC). COVID-19 prevention and preparedness continues.
Why is the Vanuatu government trying to approve COVID material before it is disseminated?
All around the world, people are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus. Sound preparation, based on scientific evidence, is what is needed at this time. Many people are sharing information about the virus and how to protect against it, but not all information is useful or reliable. Misinformation during a pandemic can be dangerous, because it can result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus. It can also spread paranoia, fear, and stigmatization, and have other consequences like offering a false sense of protection.
Where can I get more information?
- Visit MOH COVID-19 website
- Visit MOH zero-data landing page
- Visit Health Promotions Facebook page
- Visit WHO COVID-19 Outbreak website
- Email COVID-19 Health Emergency Operations Centre:
- Call COVID-19 Information Hotline: 119
- Visit https://covid19.gov.vu/index.php/questions-answers for updated Questions & Answers
- Visit https://ndmo.gov.vu/covid-19/ for updates from the National Disaster Management Office
If your questions are not answered here on in the resources on our website, please contact the free Health Information Hotline on 119.