Border cases confirmed as delta variant

(L-r) Dr. Natuman, PM Loughman and Acting Health DG Posikai addressing the media yesterday. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

The test result from a laboratory in Australia, Doherty Institute, has confirmed the country’s two COVID-19 border cases to be delta variant.

Now the dominant variant worldwide and in the Pacific region, delta has a higher transmissibility, meaning it is more infectious.

The two cases were detected in quarantine following a flight from New Caledonia (NC) last month. They are in isolation and will be discharged once they are no longer infectious and have been given health clearance.

None of the passengers on the same flight have developed symptoms of COVID-19 and have been tested negative three times before leaving quarantine yesterday.

Frontline workers who were placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure have been released, as they were confirmed to have no risk of COVID-19.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has recommended that no lockdown or restriction is imposed.

According to the Acting Health DG, Dr. Samuel Posikai, the time from exposure to being detectable for delta variant is a short period — three to five days, which means that the recommended 14-days quarantine period is standard.

He said some countries with high vaccination coverage are shortening their quarantine period but Vanuatu will not be doing the same at this time.

In his update on the status of the two positive cases yesterday, Prime Minister (PM) Bob Loughman, has reminded that while repatriation is currently a priority for the government, there is still risk in bringing back citizens from some of the countries considered high-risk of coronavirus.

Apart from the strict measures being implemented to contain cases at the border, PM Loughman also urged for vaccination.

Vaccination can help to reduce community transmission and impact on hospital capacity, he stressed.

PM Loughman declared that the new national vaccination target set by the Health Emergency Advisory Committee is, to have 90% of the adult population vaccinated with at least one dose of vaccine by the end of 2021 and 70% fully vaccinated by the end of March next year.

Acting Director of Curative and Hospital Services, Dr. Sereana Natuman, said it is important to get vaccinated than remaining unvaccinated and risking getting sick with the virus.

She stressed that Vila Central Hospital (VCH) as the country’s main hospital is not equipped to handle an influx of COVID-19 cases.

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