The first quantity of 120 COVID-19 cartridges, is expected to arrive in Port Vila next week, from California, USA, via Brisbane in Australia.
This was confirmed by Public Health Services Director, Dr. Len Tarivonda.
He said Vanuatu has placed a much higher order for large quantity but can only receive the quantity of 120, because every countries around the world are demanding the same piece of COVID-19 test equipment and in huge quantities.
“We have placed orders for more than we are receiving but can receive only the quantity of 120 while the manufacturers, work tirelessly day and night to produce massive quantities for every countries around the world,” said Dr. Tarivonda.
He explained that one COVID-19 cartridge can be used on one person only, which means that only 120 people can be tested with the 120 COVID-19 cartridges that are arriving next week.
He gave an example that if the Ni-Vanuatu living in New Zealand or Australia were to be repatriated to Vanuatu, it does not mean that every single one of them will be tested, using the COVID-19 cartridge. There is a procedures.
“For example, when the Ni-Vanuatu Workers return home from New Zealand or Australia, not all of them will be required to be tested with COVID-19 cartridge on arrival.
First they will be taken to be taken to quarantine place where they will remain for 14 days. And if during the period of 14 days, one or some of them develop COVID-19 symptoms, or signs, then they are the ones that will be tested for COVID-19, using the imported cartridges.
This is the standard procedures that we all follow,” said Dr. Tarivonda.
“As much as we would have liked to receive large quantity of cartridges, but we can only get this much is because, the manufactures around the world are massively producing for every nations and countries, coupled with the difficulties of all countries on international lockdown, makes it all that more difficult to receive even smaller quantity quickly,” said Dr. Tarivonda.
He stressed that as and when the national government gives green light for the repatriation of Ni-Vanuatu citizens to return home from Australia and New Zealand, the first priority will be for those who are on tourist visas overseas and are facing difficulties every day.
“The citizens who are on tourist visas overseas are facing difficulties, especially with finances. It is a question of how long more they can survive on tourist visas and how long will the coronavirus continue to plague the world and the decision to repatriate the Ni-Vans back to Vanuatu,” says Dr. Tarivonda.
At the same time, he agrees that the country must ensure the total safety of the population of Vanuatu at large, and to do everything possible, to keep Vanuatu free from COVID-19.
“With the arrival of the COVID-19 cartridges, we will be equipped to carry out the tests and we have the isolation ward and the equipment at the Vila Central Hospital,” Dr. Tarivonda assured.
At the same, the Director of Public Health Services also agreed that Vanuatu must take every steps to ensure it minimizes every risks.
“It is all about risks of not getting COVID-19. Vanuatu must not take any risks because we are one of the only countries in the world now that is still free from the deadly virus, the COVID-19.
While we have the level of comfort with the facilities we have, again, it is all about risks and we do not want to take the risks and must do everything we can to keep COVID-19 out of Vanuatu,” Dr. Tarivonda said.