Concerns over coronavirus after ship returns from Tafea

Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

Spokesperson of the Health Cluster, Russel Tamata, confirmed that surveillance is being conducted on two ships, MV Touaraken and Vanuatu Ferry after returning from TAFEA Province. Concerns have been raised by the public on whether MV Touaraken needs to be quarantined after returning from the island of Aneityum.

Aneityum is placed under quarantine as a precautionary measure after a cruise ship, Voyager of the Sea, went to the island with a passenger that later tested positive to coronavirus.

According to the Senior Legal Officer of the Office of the Maritime Regulator (OMR), Lloyd Fikiasi, the domestic vessel came back to Port Vila last Saturday, with six passengers.

After leaving Aneityum, MV Touaraken went to Tanna before continuing its route to Port Vila. The other ship, Vanuatu Ferry also sailed to Tanna.

Mr Fikiasi said: “NDMO and Health Cluster need to come up with a plan for us to work together in tracking the passengers, as the ship also went to Tanna. “OMR do not have the power to quarantine a vessel. At the moment, it’s an health issue and we need instructions from NDMO”, he said. Meanwhile, all vessels are not allowed to sail to the whole of TAFEA Province following instruction from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). In a circular sent to all vessels, OMR stated that the instruction include all vessels returning from TAFEA and intends to travel to other provinces.

Last week, samples were taken from five people from Aneityum for testing and authorities are still waiting for the result. All ships will resume normal services to TAFEA Province when the lockdown is cleared by NDMO.

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