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02 Apr 2020 | 07:22 AM UTC

Vanuatu: Authorities declare state of emergency on March 26 /update 3

Authorities declare state of emergency on March 26 due to COVID-19 outbreak; abide by government policies

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VUT

Event

On Thursday, March 26, authorities declared a state of emergency in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country. As a result, Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Vanuatu's Prime Minister, ordered the implementation of a curfew effective immediately between 21:00 and 04:00 (local time), throughout the duration of the state of emergency. Individuals will be required to remain in their homes, though exemptions are made for "emergency purposes, health reasons, or to perform a function related to an essential service."

Individuals who fail to comply with the restriction will be subject to arrest by the police without a warrant and will be remanded for a 24-hour period.

On Friday, March 20, authorities ordered the closure of the country's borders to all but permanent residents, Vanuatu citizens and for members of diplomatic bodies and international organizations, who will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

As of April 2, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is expected.

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). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

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

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

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.