Coronavirus not really an airborne disease: Donald Pelam

Donald Pelam, Coronavirus Taskforce Chairman

Two containers have been installed outside the international terminal at the Port Vila airport to assist as countermeasures in isolation of people suspected of being infected with coronavirus or COVID-19.

Chairman of the Task Force, Donald Pelam, says the containers will be furnished with beds and arm chairs so the people placed in isolation can rest comfortably.

Pelam says the main purpose of these containers are to temporarily house anyone that is suspected of carrying the coronavirus upon arrival.

He says the task force came up with this idea, as housing people in an Air Vanuatu or Airports Vanuatu building wouldn’t be fair and would not be safe for the staff and the public.

Mr Pelam says if anyone disembarking from an international flight is suspected of being infected, they would be isolated in one of those containers. He says people will be kept in those containers for only 12 hours.

He explains that during those 12 hours of detention, the people will be monitored by doctors from the Vila Central Hospital.

Pelam says if anyone tests positive after 12 hours, they would be moved into an isolation ward. He says the task force dropped the idea of using the Te Waikara Dispensary at Fresh Wota 1, however they are reconsidering the plan to use Te Waikara Dispensary.

That is not yet confirmed and Mr Pelam told 96.3 Buzz FM that should they go with Te Waikara or any other venue, he would return on air to confirm this.

This reconsideration could cause public panic especially to Fresh Wota residents, however Pelam would like to assure everyone that “the corona virus is not really an airborne disease”.

He says you would need to be standing very close to an infected person to contract the virus. Mr Pelam says you have to be within 1 meter of the infected person in order to contract the virus.

Chairman Pelam says since the six passengers were repatriated after coming from coronavirus infected regions, there have been no recent repatriations. However the chairman advices any Ni-Vanuatu coming in from Europe not to transit in China or any other countries in the “danger zone” such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.

After releasing the coronavirus alert warning 3 on Sunday, Pelam says he is happy with the task force and happy with the private sector for co-operating well.

Mr Pelam says another meeting is held this week and following that meeting the task force shall release advisory warning number 4.

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