The Vanuatu Ministry of Health would like to provide an update to the public on the two
active COVID-19 cases currently in isolation. The two active cases entered Vanuatu from New
Caledonia on Friday 22 October and were detected as positive on Sunday 24 October. Both
active cases have been transferred to the COVID-19 isolation ward at Vila Central Hospital.
We have now received the test results from Doherty Institute in Australia on the variant of
COVID-19 for these two cases imported from New Caledonia. This has indicated that the
COVID-19 variant is delta. This is not cause for alarm but does send a warning that we must
ensure the strictest standard is applied for all measures. The measures currently in place must
be continued so as to protect against any onwards transmission of delta variant from these
two cases. At this stage, no additional measures are required or recommended by the
Ministry of Health. We should have confidence that the work done to strengthen our
processes is sufficient. We should also continue to vaccinate, as this is the best protection
against COVID-19 including the delta variant.
None of the 16 other passengers from the same flight from New Caledonia have developed
symptoms of COVID-19. They were tested at day 1, day 5 and day 11 with an extra test at day
14. All of the laboratory tests for these 16 passengers have come back negative. They were
provided medical clearance to confirm they are no risk of COVID-19 to the community and
yesterday all 16 were released from quarantine.
Additional contact tracing for the two active cases has now been completed. Contact tracing
indicates there is no evidence of breaches in quarantine procedures. 20 other people were
placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure while the contact tracing process was
conducted. These included frontline workers at the border, transport staff and health staff.
Negative test results have been received for all 20 of these people. Last week they were all
released from precautionary quarantine as they were confirmed to pose no risk of COVID-19
to the community.
There is no evidence of any additional COVID-19 cases in Vanuatu. There is no indication of
any risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community. In accordance with the Vanuatu
Outbreak Alert System, Efate and Offshore Islands remain at Level 1: Medium risk due to the
cases at the border that have been contained in quarantine and isolation. The rest of Vanuatu
remains at Level 0: Low risk. As a result, the Ministry of Health do not currently recommend
any broad-scale community lockdowns or restrictions.
So far, we have managed to successfully contain at the border all COVID-19 cases imported
into the country. However, repatriation of Vanuatu citizens is an important priority of the
Government of Vanuatu. Repatriation has an associated risk of imported cases, but this risk
can be reduced by strict measures such as quarantine. Vaccination further reduces the risk
that any cases will be severe, will require hospitalization, or will lead death. Progress with
COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has been good but we need to keep going. Shefa province was
the first to start vaccination in early June this year. Efate and Offshore Islands had reached
81% of the adult population with one dose and 51% with two doses. For Sanma, 81% of the
adult population in high priority areas had received their first dose. While only 18% have
received their second dose, we expect this will rapidly increase in the coming weeks. Both
Tafea and Malampa have already vaccinated over a third of their adults in high priority areas
with one dose. Penama just commenced vaccination last Tuesday and was able to vaccinate
8% of their population with one dose. Torba will launch their COVID-19 vaccination roll-out
on 9 November. Updated vaccination figures are provided weekly, on Tuesdays.
Vaccination is critical to prevent community transmission and to prevent a heavy impact of
COVID-19 on hospital capacity. The vaccination campaign has been targeting health care
workers, frontline workers, the elderly 55 years and over, and people with underlying
conditions. Coverage of health care and frontline workers is progressing very well, and we
encourage all those not yet vaccinated to come forward as they are the ones most at risk of
contracting COVID-19 by nature of their work. Vaccination rates for the elderly are
unfortunately lagging behind. It is so important that this group gets vaccinated as we have
seen from reports all over the world that this is the group who will be hardest hit if COVID-19
does reach our community. These are the most vulnerable who are more likely to develop
severe COVID, require hospitalization and are at higher risk of death. We urge you all to
encourage your older family and loved ones to come forward to receive a vaccine. Please
assist them in this, to protect them from COVID-19.
As our vaccination coverage rates increase throughout the country, we are getting ready for
a return to the new normal through the reduction of international border restrictions and
opening to tourists and other travellers. It is important that we continue to prepare while we
are still in a situation where there is no COVID-19 in the country. Part of this preparation is to
ensure we receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect ourselves, our family, community,
and the future of the nation, as a whole.
The Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that a new national COVID-19
vaccination target has been proposed by the Health Emergency Advisory Committee that will
help to guide this opening. This target set is for:
90% coverage of the adult population with at least one dose of vaccine by the end of
70% of the adult population fully vaccinated which is two doses of the current vaccines
in Vanuatu by the end of March 2022.
As we continue to monitor the evolving global and regional situation of COVID-19, these
targets may be adjusted to ensure that our population remains safe. The Ministry of Health
wish to commend the professionalism and dedication of all frontline workers supporting
repatriation and quarantine operations that has led to successful containment of these cases
in quarantine and isolation, and commends those who have selflessly worked towards
ensuring that we have no cases in the community. The Ministry of Health continues to urge
all those who are not yet vaccinated to come forward. COVID-19 vaccination protects against
severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Protect yourself, your family and
your community from COVID-19 and get vaccinated.
For recent updates, please refer to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 website at
www.covid19.gov.vu. Please also follow the Health Promotions Vanuatu Facebook Page. For
any questions, please call the 119 Health Information Hotline. Any updates on the COVID-19
situation will be provided through official sources and the public are urged not to spread any
false or misleading information.