Caretaker Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has acknowledged China for responding positively to Vanuatu’s request to provide the necessary supplies and equipment, in order to support its health system in case there are confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The medical equipment arrived in Port Vila on Saturday evening.

The caretaker PM noted the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on economies, social and cultural structures and health systems globally.

“To date over 1 million people have contracted the pandemic and thousands are dying as there are no medical drugs to treat the pandemic while at the time, health systems are unable to cope with the demands,” he stated.

“It is sad to note that many people dying are from developed economies where health systems and facilities are robust and research facilities are available. This is creating fear on the developing countries where there are significant issues with health systems, facilities, lack of sufficient medical staff and drugs to manage the pandemic.

“Based on the above, the Government of Vanuatu has reached out to its development partners to provide the necessary supplies and equipment in order to support its health system in case there are confirmed cases of COVID-19.”

Mr Salwai stated this decision has also been made in light of the global country border decisions for citizens of foreign countries to return to their country of origin.

“Vanuatu has a large number of citizens and students in many countries including thousands in Australia and New Zealand employed in the seasonal workers schemes.

“Both Australia and New Zealand have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and it is the duty of the Vanuatu Government to protect its citizens. However, an influx of the citizens returning to Vanuatu will need to be managed based on facilities and medical supplies to detect and treat covid-19 patients.

“The People’s Republic of China has positively kindly responded to the government’s request and hence the medical supplies and equipment arrived on Saturday 11th April 2020.

“The Vanuatu Government wishes to assure the people of Vanuatu that these medical supplies and equipment are urgently needed for any rapid testing and treatment of any covid-19 confirmed cases.

“The major hospitals in Vanuatu and other rural hospitals do not have any medical supplies and equipment to treat any confirmed cases.

“Any outbreak of the COVID-19 in Vanuatu will be a major disaster for the country and it is the conscious decision of this government that these supplies have to be made available.

“The Government of Vanuatu wishes to further assure the people of Vanuatu that the People’s Republic of China are responding to Vanuatu’s request for these medical supplies and equipment.

“Strict border control protocols have been developed and agreed on the handling, uploading, unloading and treatment of the supplies and equipment prior and after arrival of the supplies.”

In addition, the Vanuatu Government wishes to assured the people of Vanuatu that these equipment and medical supplies once treated will be utilized to their full capacities should an outbreak of the pandemic is declared.

In conclusion, he added, “As Caretaker Prime Minister I would like to express our appreciation to the people and government of China for their quick response to our appeal. I wish to conclude that simple preventative measures such as regularly washing hands with soap and applying sanitizers which encouraged by Ministry of Health and implemented through the SoE Directives should continue to be applied.

“These preventative measures are equally important to any medical supplies and equipment received through our friends from China”.

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