Vanuatu’s COVID-19 national spokesperson, Dr. Len Tarivonda, has confirmed that 800 Ni-Vanuatu RSE Workers in New Zealand are ready to return home.
“The Ministry of Health (MoH), and Air Vanuatu are ready to start repatriation of seasonal workers in New Zealand and Australia, but await the green light from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Missions abroad to finalize their arrangements, then the repatriation program me can start,” Dr. Tarivonda told Daily Post yesterday morning.
He confirmed that the Ministry of Health’s protocols in compliance with the World Health Organizations (WHO) and National Health strict measures to keep COVID-19 out of Vanuatu, are in place.
“Our Ministry of Health have also already endorsed Air Vanuatu Pre-boarding and Inflight protocols that are also in line with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules and protocols and are in place for the repatriation program to go ahead,” he said.
“Both the Ministry of Health and Air Vanuatu prevention protocols are well and above the strict measures and yes, we are ready. What we are waiting for now, is for the NDMO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our overseas missions, especially in Wellington and Canberra and the RSE Workers themselves to finalize arrangements, then the repatriation programme can go ahead.
“The Vanuatu government is using our own national airline, Air Vanuatu for the repatriation of RSE Workers and nationals who wish to return to Vanuatu from New Zealand and Australia. They will have to travel back to Vanuatu on scheduled cargo flights from New Zealand and Australia to Port Vila.
“The minimum passengers that can travel on scheduled cargo flights from New Zealand and Australia to Port Vila is, 112 but could be more.”
Dr. Tarivonda reiterated that Ministry of Health and Air Vanuatu are both ready and equipped for the repatriation of seasonal workers.
“We want to ensure that everything that we do for our Ni-Vanuatu Workers to come home, we are absolutely sure that all preventive COVID-19 strict measures and controls are fully complied with and applicable so that COVID- 19 does not enter Vanuatu by any slight mistake. Yes, we are ready for the second phase of the repatriation of Ni-Vans RSE Workers in New Zealand and Australia to begin,” Dr. Tarivonda assured.
He confirmed the repatriation program for Ni-Vanuatu workers and other nationals now in New Zealand and Australia who want to return home, will continue throughout the rest of this year, and into the New Year.
“We are talking about the movement of a lot of people to be repatriated and therefore need strict COVID -19 measures in every step and every move we make. We are talking about lives. Our aim is to keep COVID -19 out of Vanuatu at all costs,” Dr. Tarivonda concluded.