With the declaration by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands last week of the first COVID-19 positive case; Vanuatu remains only one of a handful of countries in the region that remains COVID-free.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to lead the country’s COVID Preparedness and Prevention response at the national level alongside the World Health Organization (WHO).
The opening of a second port of entry into Vanuatu was approved by the Council of Ministers as part of the on-going second phase of repatriation.
The seaport and wharf in Port Vila has now received ships returning to Vanuatu and the mandatory quarantine process has been carried out offshore by the SHEFA Provincial Health surveillance teams. All crew are subjected to daily temperature checks and are required to complete health checks to ensure that any suspected case is identified and tested.
Last month saw the roll-out of the first national Training of Trainers workshop for provincial health leaders which brought together 25 provincial participants. For 4 days, the workshop allowed for these health leaders to be updated on the latest COVID-19 recommendations as well as have the opportunity to be learn from the challenges of Phase 1. A table-top exercise and group work allowed participants to test their own preparedness plans as they looked at disease transmission scenarios 2a, 2b and 3. The participants also had the opportunity to visit the aerodrome and quarantine facilities in Port Vila to complete their training experience.
The provincial participants came from the 5 provinces of TORBA, SANMA, MALAMPA, PENAMA and TAFEA.
They will all return to their provinces with the intention to train their own health care workers and align their COVID-19 preparedness activities with those at the national level.
With repatriation operations by air and sea being the focus of the SHEFA Provincial Health office, extra support has been provided by the 5 provinces through 15 public health officers and provincial clinicians to be based in Port Vila for one month.
They are now in the final week of their deployment and will be replaced as repatriation operations are expected to continue well into December.
Over 5000 ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers, students and residents remain overseas and they are expected to return home in stages with a clear cap on the number of repatriates already set by the MOH Health Advisory Committee at 640 guests in quarantine at any one time.
The Ministry of Health and WHO also continue to work very closely with the Department of Tourism (DoT) to finalise the Safe Business Operations (SBO) Guidelines and roll this out to the provinces. The SBO Guidelines Policy was highlighted at the recent National Business Forum which was a government consultation forum facilitated by the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) which was broadcasted live on national television and on social media.
This gave the opportunity for the public in general to be made aware of the health and tourism collaboration into ensuring Vanuatu’s safety and security as we move into the last quarter of the year.
The national ‘Niufala Rod Blo Tourism’ week is scheduled for the 26th to 29th of October 2020 and is going to take place at the Chief’s Nakamal. The objective of the week is to have collaborative discussions and validation workshops for the recovery of Vanuatu’s tourism industry. This is to ensure destination wellbeing, resilience, diversification, and sustainability.
The expected outcome is the alignment of the objectives of the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy VSTP (2019-2030) with the Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Plan (VTCRRP) Implementation Plan and the Provincial Tourism Management Plans which forms phases 2 & 3 of the recovery plan. Consultation on the Tourism Council of Vanuatu (TCOV) Act No.23 of 2012 and Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) Act Cap 142 legislation review, and proposed support programs to support ongoing management of Vanuatu’s tourism industry.