Tamtam Bubble: Vaturisu resolution stands

Road block at the Bauerfield International Airport during repatriation. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

The new cases of COVID-19 in Port Vila and New Caledonia has prompted reactions from Vanuatu Council of Churches and Vaturisu Council of Chiefs of Efate.

Chairman of Vaturisu, Chief Simeon Poilapa said government didn’t consult the chiefs of Efate to re-open its borders. He said the resolution of Vaturisu of 2020 to prohibit visitors to enter Efate still stands. He also reminded government that Efate is hosting Port Vila which is the gateway of Vanuatu and every days there are movements of people of the islands into the capital.

Chief Polilapa said as a chairman of Vaturisu, he also concerned about the health of over six thousand people of his village of Mele and surrounding villages of Pango and Erakor. On his side, secretary general of VCC, Pastor Shem Temar asked government to reconsidered his decision on the re-opening of its borders with New Caledonia. “Life of the people of Vanuatu is paramount” Pastor Temar said. He said it will come a right for the government to re-open its borders but not mow. He said VCC is fully aware the impact of caused by covid crisis but said people’s life is more import.

Over a month that Council of Minister approved Tamtam Travel Bubbles there was a lack of consultations between local authorities and New Caledonia. The same week of the decision of Vanuatu Council Of Ministers to re-open the borders between Port Vila, Efate and New Caledonia, territorial government of New Caledonia issued a statement saying that the french territory is not ready and was seeking assistance to South Pacific Commission to help carry out feasibility studies that would cover an eventual Tamtam Travel Bubbles between the two melanesian countries of Vanuatu and Fiji. Few weeks after COM decision, Prime Minister, Bob Loughman said Tamtam Travel Bubbles between New Caledonia is on hold.

Also after the COM decision there are now new development on covid 19 cases i both countries. New Caledonia spotted nine new cases outside the quarantine on 7th of March and Vanuatu recorded two news cases in quarantine. It is alleged that new cases of covid19 in New Caledonia followed Tamtam Bubbles between neighboring french territory of Wallis and Futuna. Wallis and Futuna were covid free like Vanuatu. Since Tamtam Travel Bubbles between the two french territories start from 25th February this year until 31st of March, there are ninety official cases in New Caledonia.

Since the crisis started last year, New Caledonia has now ninety official cases of covid, one hudred and ten are now in quarantine and twenty eight thousand of tests have been carried out. Since 25th February when tamtam bubbles started between New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna over six hundred people were travelled between the two countries. This has forced territorial government of New Caledonia to impose the lockdown in Noumea to track them. Report from Noumea yesterday said the lockdown was supposed to be lifted on Saturday 27th of March, but the finding of an other new case of corona virus on Thursday last week outside the quarantine has forced the government to impose an other fifteen days of lockdown since last weekend. Report from New Caledonia yesterday said tamtam travel bubbles between the two countries has resulted in the increase of covid19. Wallis and Futuna are now in delicate situation. Since 6th March until yesterday, they are three hundred and ninety two cases and nineteen deaths.

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