An extra 153 nurses, 83 support staff and six specialists are needed in Port Vila alone if the COVID-19 situation in Vanuatu gets worse.

The Acting Director of Curative and Hospital Services, Dr. Sereana Natuman, disclosed this when talking about works that are underway to get the Vila Central Hospital (VCH) ready as part of the clinical preparedness plan, in a press conference yesterday.

Hospitals in neighboring countries like Fiji and New Caledonia had been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients in a few days, due to infection surges. 

The situation is expected to be similar in Vanuatu at a worst-case scenario if the vaccination coverage remains low, said Dr. Natuman.

“Currently, there are 60 beds in the COVID Ward, which obviously will spill over with patients quickly if we reach Alert Level 2," she stressed.

“The number of beds is not enough to accommodate patients like what is happening in Fiji and NC. We need to boost our vaccination coverage.

“If the ward is filled up, patients will spill over to the Surgical and Medical Wards. The Maternity Ward will be used to treat pregnant mothers with COVID-19 symptoms and theatre emergency services will still be offered there.

“The Nursing School will be used for non-COVID cases. Some of the dormitories will be turned into Maternity Ward. 

“In the event that we reach Alert Level 3, all positive cases must be moved into a community Isolation Center with around over 90 beds. 

“Check-up for non COVID cases will be done outside VCH. People will have to access clinics and other health facilities in Port Vila and rural Efate."

She said they are working to improve Infection Prevention Control (IPC) measures and are conducting basic trainings for doctors and nurses on swab specimen collection and taking care for severe cases.

Dr. Natuman said the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be requesting help from its partners and other countries, to address the human resource shortage.

Currently, four nurses are taking care of the positive cases on a daily basis.



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