10 Vanuatu students who have completed their studies in China were repatriated on the flight that brought in the 80,000 COVID-19 Sinopharm vaccine via Auckland, last Sunday night.

They came with other Chinese nationals who will be carrying out government projects in the country, said the Director of Foreign Affairs, Yvon Basil.

The Minister of Health, Silas Bule, and the Acting Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr. Samuel Posikai, were at the Port Vila Airport to officially receive the vaccine doses and 80, 000 syringes from Chinese Ambassador, Zhou Haicheng.

The donations arrived in Port Vila less than a month following a request by the Vanuatu Government.

The chartered flight was co-organised by Air Vanuatu and the China Gezhouba Group Corporation, through the coordination of MOH and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Minister Silas said the arrival of vaccines reflects the strong relationship between China and Vanuatu.

“I wish to thank the government and people of China for this continued friendship as you continue to support us to be assertive and prepared against a disease that we do not have the capacity to fight,” he said.

“This batch of vaccine is an indication that you care for the people of Vanuatu.”

He urged eligible people to get vaccinated and save the cost of purchasing medical equipment and getting hospitalized due to the virus.

Ambassador Zhou said the vaccine arrival reaffirms China’s commitment to supporting Vanuatu’s pandemic response and economic recovery.

He commended the government on the progress of its vaccine rollout and for being successful in preventing community transmission so far.

“China will always stand firmly by Vanuatu’s side through all challenges, work with global partners to help Vanuatu successfully rollout the vaccination program, and achieve resilient economic recovery in the post-pandemic era,” he said.

Following the arrival of the 80,000 doses, Sinopharm vaccine will be administered daily in Port Vila and some will be used for the rollout in each province, said Acting Health DG Posikai.

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