Chief calls on Labour to stop all seasonal workers travelling amid Coronavirus fears

People in Vanuatu have raised concerns over people still travelling to Australia and New Zealand amid the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the two countries.

A call has been made to the Government to repatriate all ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers serving overseas and wait until the two countries are cleared.

Chief Malcolm Raymond of Tanna said if the government values the life of its people then it must act now before the virus spreads into the country.

Mr. Raymond said that the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020 but it seemed that the government is not taking the call seriously.

He added the number of the cases in Australia stands at 15 last month but has rapidly increased almost every day as Vanuatu labourers are departing the country to various locations in Australia to find jobs.

The concerned chief stated that New Zealand had one case the previous week but has rapidly increased to more confirmed cases who have tested positive with the virus this week.

Raymond said in his observation, the Coronavirus Task Force in Vanuatu and the government are not doing enough to safeguard the borders and that places the safety of every citizen at risk.

“Our Vila Central Hospital is not enough to stand the disease and I think we don’t have proper equipment to treat the virus,” he said.

“This is an important call to the government to halt all cruise ship visits and tighten border control measures.

“Some of the international flights to Australia and New Zealand needed to be grounded for the sake of our safety.”

Mr Raymond said that the people working on cruise ships in the Pacific were also exposed to coronavirus threat and the government should make every possible way to locate them and have them repatriated back to the country.

The Tannese chief is concerned that there is still a better approach for Vanuatu to undertake before someone contracts the virus.

Mr. Raymond noted that the Samoan Government has cut plane arrivals from New Zealand by almost half after that country identified its first coronavirus cases, with several countries across the region putting strict new entry policies in place.

The chief said Vanuatu does not have any direct connection to the countries heavily affected by the virus like China, South Korea, Italy and Iran but it is likely there will be a case if strict security measures are not enforced.

It would be good to have all Vanuatu passengers quarantined in their last port before entering the country with a certified medical certificate, he said.

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