Two of the 18 passengers who were brought in on a repatriation flight from New Caledonia last Friday, have tested positive for coronavirus.
They were tested positive in quarantine last Sunday. They will be transferred to the isolation ward at the Vila Central Hospital.
When making the announcement yesterday, Prime Minister (PM) Bob Loughman, said all the passengers did not present any symptoms and have been tested negative in Noumea before given clearance to fly into Vanuatu.
“They followed every health clearance requirements to enter Vanuatu and are being monitored in quarantine," he said.
“All returning passengers are Vanuatu citizens.
“We have yet to determine whether the cases are Delta variant or not. The World Health Organisation (WHO) will assist us to send samples overseas for testing and it would take some time to know the results.
“Contact tracing for people involved in the quarantine process who have been in close contact with the passengers is underway.
“Close contacts will be sent to quarantine once identified and will be tested."
With these two new cases, Vanuatu's alert level now increases from 0 (low) to 1 (medium), which means that cases have been identified at border and but there has been no community transmission.
The number of cases Vanuatu has recorded since the pandemic last year now increases to five. The first three have been cleared.
PM Loughman appealed to eligible citizens who have not been vaccinated yet to do so, to protect themselves, their family and others against severe disease, hospitalization and death.
He urged community leaders to encourage their people to get vaccinated.
He also encouraged citizens to continue hygiene practices such as regular hand washing with clean water and soap, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, clean and disinfect surfaces used and staying at home if sick.
Members of the public are reminded not to spread rumors about the situation. Updates on the two cases will be provided after their second tests.
Meanwhile, the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Russel Tamata, has been suspended by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on certain allegations.
DG Tamata has confirmed his suspension but refused to comment. He is expected to respond to allegations as part of the disciplinary process.
The Director of the Corporate Services, Policy and Planning at the MOH, Dr. Posikai Samuel Tapo, is now the Acting DG for Health.