The 14-day quarantine rule that the government has imposed, when it started bringing back citizens and residents from abroad due to COVID-19, will end today (Wednesday) with the final release of 208 repatriates.
This would mean Vanuatu is still free from COVID-19.
Under the quarantine rule, anyone entering Vanuatu from countries deemed low-risk or high-risk for coronavirus must stay in isolation for two weeks at a government approved facility where temperature tests would be undertaken daily.
Quarantine was a cautious approach to protect public safety and prevent the spread of infection, should there be an outbreak, which has been spreading globally and taking people’s lives.
Over 1,000 citizens and residents went through quarantine under the first repatriation phase which ended last month.
They returned from countries like Solomon Islands which is coronavirus free like Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia including Fiji and New Zealand (NZ), two nations that have just declared themselves COVID-19 free.
Majority were seasonal workers from NZ who have been experiencing family and work related issues abroad. The NZ government that funded the Recognized Seasonal Employer’s (RSE) Scheme brought them back home.
Over 10 quarantine facilities were used to accommodate all repatriates at an estimated cost of over Vt50 million.
The quarantine rule was enforced by the joint efforts of the Ministry of Health, Vanuatu Police Force, National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), World Health Organisation (WHO), border control agencies such as Biosecurity, Customs, Immigration and Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) including Civil Status and the staff and management of the approved quarantine facilities.
Today, the Minister of Health Silas Bule is expected to make a statement to officially close the quarantine process for the first repatriation phase.
An occasion will be held at Holiday Inn to officially release over 60 repatriates today, where the minister will make his statement.
Repatriates usually obtain quarantine certificates prior to their release.
These certificates are to be issued by a medical doctor based on the Public Health Act, to confirm repatriates have completed 14-days quarantine and are healthy with no symptoms of COVID-19.