Port Vila, 27 May 2020: The Vanuatu Ministry of Health confirms that they are working carefully with NDMO and other Government agencies to manage the safe repatriation of Ni-Vanuatu citizens and residents commencing this week.
Following NDMO's 'Instrument of Directions to Government Agencies relating to COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold (Amendment) Order No. 77 of 2020' dated 23 May under the Disaster Risk Management Act, people approved by NDMO to be repatriated or travel to Vanuatu will do so under strict conditions imposed by NDMO and the Ministry of Health.
All returning citizens and residents arriving from countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will spend 14 days in quarantine at a government-designated hotel or facility.
Len Tarivonda, Director of Public Health noted "We are happy to be welcoming these individuals home after an unprecedented global situation in response to the pandemic." He added, "We thank them and their families for continued patience and full cooperation with Government Directives for returning to Vanuatu and following quarantine requirements to keep our country safe".
Under the Public Health Act, quarantine is a public health precaution to physically separate healthy individuals from others to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. During the quarantine period, services and support provided include accommodation, meals, health checks, and psychosocial support.
"Now that testing for COVID-19 is available in Vanuatu, we can be confident that anyone who presents with COVID-19 symptoms and meets WHO case definition can be quickly and accurately tested," Director Tarivonda stated. "This means that we are able to get confirmation right away and respond following protocols in place".
The Ministry of Health is working tirelessly to ensure ongoing public health information and teams reach communities, as often inaccurate information in the media births fear and stigma.
"Our role as the government, and indeed as a country, is to provide support to these individuals, their families and communities," said Director Tarivonda. He encouraged families, friends, and the broader community to provide acceptance and support to those who will be quarantined. This can be challenging when concerned individuals have already been away from home for an extended period.
"We acknowledge relevant hotel management and staff, health staff and government agencies involved for helping to meet accommodation and catering needs of these individuals while in quarantine", Director Tarivonda stated.
The Ministry of Health's support to the NDMO and line Government Agencies to manage a smooth and safe repatriation is key to keeping Vanuatu secure.