289 to be repatriated in first phase: PM

Prime Minister Bob Loughman delivering his address on the update of the repatriation plan yesterday morning.

Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) expects to repatriate at least 289 people under the first stage of repatriation plan.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman confirmed the figure yesterday morning when he addressed the local media on the update of the repatriation exercise.

The repatriation process commenced this week with the first arrival of seven Ni-Vanuatu who were stranded in the Solomon Islands.

PM Loughman explained that the mentioned figure includes citizens and non-citizens who are in New Caledonia, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and the Solomon Islands. He said the first stage of repatriation plan will end in June.

During the first week of August, Vanuatu will undergo the second repatriation stage. According to the head of the government, the second phase of the repatriation process will consider medium and long-term repatriation of non-citizens, Ni-Vanuatu engaging in the Regional Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme, and Seasonal Workers Program (SWP), students and other categories of people who are based in different countries around the world.

Very strict protocols are applied when executing the repatriation exercise.

PM reiterated that all passengers who are being repatriated will have to undergo a quarantine for 14 days, in government approved facilities.

Within the 14-day period in confinement, anyone who is showing symptoms of the COVID-19 will be referred to Vila Central Hospital (VCH), where he or she can be tested.

VCH can conduct laboratory tests for the deadly disease and should there be any positive cases, they can be treated in the isolation facility that were installed for this purpose.

PM Loughman conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to NDMO, the Ministry of Health and other government ministries and partners for collaborative effort and commitment to plan and manage a safe repatriation for the citizens of this country.

During his official address, Loughman also called on the public to show support to those who will be returning from overseas.

He asked of everyone to accept these people in their respective communities.

PM concluded his speech by quoting a Bible verse from Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with you. Be not dismayed; for I am Your God: I will strengthen you, yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness”.

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