Since the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in Vanuatu on the 10th of November 2020, no further cases have been detected.

Risk assessment and contact tracing was initiated and all persons on the same flight as the case, as well as all persons at risk of exposure to the patient including persons at the airport, the airline, customs, immigration, biosecurity, health, transport and hotel staff, were tested and all the results came back negative.

All have since been granted immediate release from quarantine in accordance with the decision of NDC Meeting #23. To date, a total of 465 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted in Vanuatu since January 2020, only 1 person has tested positive.

Intensification of risk communication and community engagement continues, and hospital readiness has been enhanced for Vila Central Hospital (VCH).

Over 49 hospital beds have been identified for COVID-19 patients including in a dedicated isolation ward and intensive care unit. The patient who tested positive for Covid-19 is currently being isolated at VCH and will remain so until health clearance is given for release.

There was also a report of a foreign yacht entering Vanuatu and located in North Tanna. Assessments and contact tracing was conducted and the 3 persons and 7 potential contacts were placed in quarantine.

A Ministry of Health (MOH) surveillance Rapid Response Team was sent to Tanna by the NDMO to collect samples from the 10 people in quarantine and the results came back negative.

Under the COVID-19 Health Sector Preparedness and Response Plan, Vanuatu remains in Scenario 2A where a case is detected at the border or in quarantine.

Under pillar 4 of the TCRRP which is marketing, the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) continues to deliver trade messaging to keep Vanuatu in the mind of our ‘core market’ international travellers for when they are able to travel again.

In October the VTO launched the third phase of the domestic tourism campaign with the addition of the ‘Sapotem Lokol Turisim’ vouchers, ‘Free Fun Bus’ every weekend on Efate and Santo, ‘Free Fun Xmas Bus’ on Efate and Santo, and sponsorship and participation to local events.

The Safe Business Operations (SBO) training continues, and the Department of Tourism is calling on all Tourism Permit holders to register for this training, as it will become essential for when our borders re-open.

Businesses that do not have a Tourism Permit can register to do the training with the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Businesses are required to appoint a Covid-Safe Focal Point who will be in charge of Covid-Safety in the workplace. There are two types of training that businesses can choose to do. The first training is the Supervisor training which teaches the appointed staff member how to deliver the Worker training in their workplace and also how business operations may change if Covid is present in Vanuatu through the various scenarios or levels.

The second training is the Worker training which teaches basic skills to apply in the workplace. Both types of training depend on how a business would like to gain accreditation under the Tourism permit process. Owners of tourism businesses with tourism permits that undergo the Supervisor training will have to go onto the website to do Self-Verification on the Safe Business Operations Digital Platform. Self-Verification involves answering a few questions. Once a tourism business has passed self-verification, the ‘Clean Caring Checked CCC’ sticker can be obtained from the Department of Tourism Head Office.

A number of businesses that have attended a SBO training have already started self-verification through the Digital Platform. The Department of Tourism is currently putting together a pathway that will clearly outline the process to follow to gain accreditation against the SBO guidelines for tourism businesses and non-tourism businesses.

A copy of the Safe Business Operations Guidelines can be downloaded from the Department of Tourism website as well as the contact tracing form, and the checklists.

To register for your SBO training, email Ms Elma Didas at [email protected] .

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