Extension of repatriation  flight suspension likely

Inbound travel to Vanuatu will resume once travel reviews are addressed. Photo: Air Vanuatu, Pinterest

The resumption of repatriation flights next week is likely to be extended.

Director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, said existing travel protocols and procedures needs to be enhanced, to ensure Vanuatu is prepared against the Delta variant which is now a dominant strain in many countries around the world.

All critical gaps to be addressed before repatriation flight resumption will be presented to the Development Committee of Officials (DCO), before the Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting today, he said.

“Flights should resume on September 13, but we may extend the flight suspension for one or two more weeks. We want to address the recommendations before resuming flights,” he said.

“We want to make sure we are doing everything required to prevent or at least delay the importation of COVID-19 virus, particularly the Delta variant.

“There are a number of things to update. This include the seating arrangement in the Air Vanuatu aircraft and buses used for transport, pre-arrival processing, changes on ventilation and shared accommodation in quarantine facilities.

“Passengers coming from countries considered high-risk of coronavirus, particularly where the Delta variant is dominant, must not share rooms.

“Some updates do not need resources while some need funds injection from the government for implementation.”

Tarivonda said there is no scientific reason to increase the recommended 14-days quarantine period.

“People entering Vanuatu will still need to fulfill the 14-days mandatory requirement. They get tested on day 0, day 5 and day 11. They leave on Day 15 if the tests are negative,” he added.

Inbound travel to Vanuatu has been suspended since last month, following a directive issued by the National Health Emergency Advisory Committee.

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