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18 Nov 2020 | 12:22 AM UTC

Authorities lift lockdown restrictions with exception of Tanna November 18

Authorities lift lockdown restrictions nationwide with the exception of Tanna on November 18; heed official instructions

entry/exit
health
transportation
VUT

Event

The government of Vanuatu announced on Wednesday, November 18, that lockdown measures, which restricted domestic travel following the detection of the country's first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), have been lifted with the exception of the island of Tanna. Authorities have stated that a decision regarding the lockdown in Tanna would be made in the coming days. They also stated that the general quarantine period for arrivals would be reduced to 14 days from 28. Those arriving from countries deemed to be of high risk due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases will continue to be denied entry into Vanuatu.

Authorities in Vanuatu have announced that they detected the country's first case of COVID-19 on November 10. The case was an asymptomatic man who had flown into the country on November 4, from the US via New Zealand and Australia. The subject was placed in isolation and 17 close contacts, in addition to 12 others, with potential exposure have since tested negative twice.

The Vanuatu government announced on July 15 that the state of emergency which was introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold in April will be extended until December 31. Despite the state of emergency most bars, restaurants, and supermarkets in the country are operating normally and no restrictions are in place for social gatherings.

Vanuatu's borders remain closed except for permanent residents, Vanuatu citizens, and members of diplomatic bodies and international organizations. All international flights are also suspended.

As of November 18, authorities have reported one case of COVID-19 and no associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

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