In its meeting on Tuesday this week, the Council of Ministers (COM) has agreed for the government to declare a State of Emergency (SOE) due to coronavirus.
When confirming this to the Daily Post yesterday, Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ralph Regenvanu, said he was informed that an amendment to the order has delayed the SOE declaration.
The declaration is expected to be delivered by the Head of State, Obed Moses Tallis, today (Thursday), but that remains to be seen.
Though Vanuatu has no confirmed cases of the deadly virus, a SOE declaration will allow the government to mobilized resources and access funds to respond effectively to the public health crisis.
The declaration will give the government, through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) more flexibility to respond to the threat.
The overall coordination of the coronavirus pandemic was handed over to NDMO last Friday. In its latest situation report issued yesterday, NDMO conveyed that social gatherings and social events like weddings, kava bars, bars and night clubs are advised to be postponed until further notice.
NDMO said it is working with the departments of education, labor, immigration, foreign affairs and health and consulate in other countries like Fiji, New Zealand and Australia to repatriate citizens.
Currently, over 60 citizens are placed in quarantine at Holiday Inn Resort along with 35 VMF personnel who have been in Aneityum to facilitate in the election.
All international flights and ports of entry are closed. Only general cargo boats,oil, gas and fuel tankers are exempted.
All ports of entry are temporarily closed for Aneityum only.
Provincial Disaster Offices have been activated as of yesterday to support the health cluster in communicating COVID-19 awareness at the provincial level.
The public is advised to practice good hygiene and social distancing as authorities continue to monitor the situation.