Two new COVID cases confirmed in quarantine

Vanuatu is now in Stage 2A of its COVID-19 response following the confirmation of two new cases of the virus in people being held in quarantine.

Prime Minister, Bob Loughman, officially confirmed the two cases over the weekend.

The new cases bring the national total of COVID-19 cases in Vanuatu to three, with one earlier case being confirmed in quarantine last November.

The Spokesperson for COVID-19, Russel Tamata, says the two people with the virus “will be moved to the isolation ward at the Vila Central Hospital today”.

“Health officials will apply strict measures to them when they are moved out of quarantine,” he said.

Mr Tamata says Stage 2A of the country’s COVID-19 response means all services will operate normally across the country as the two infected people are in quarantine.

“In Stage 2A, schools, work places, and public gatherings continue normally,” he said.

“But people must maintain proper hygiene measures, including washing hands with soap and water and applying social distancing.

“At this stage, there is no need for domestic border lockdowns or stopping the movement of students and people around the country because the two cases are in quarantine.

“Many people are saying authorities should lock down our borders – that will not happen.

“That will only happen if there is community transmission – which means if a person with COVID-19 comes out of quarantine and passes the virus on to other people in the community.”

Prime Minister Loughman has called on the public to use the Ministry of Health’s website so they always get accurate information on the pandemic.

“I want to assure everyone that Vanuatu has an effective protocol in place to manage the repatriations [of our citizens from abroad] and the quarantine process,” the Prime Minister said.

“I ask the public not to be scared but to continue following proper hygiene habits, including hand washing.”

Mr Loughman thanked frontline officers for maintaining Vanuatu’s effective COVID-19 response.

Mr Tamata says the Ministry of Health is currently following a well-prepared response plan.

He says the ministry will continue to review the plan and will make changes if they are needed.

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