Vanuatu has confirmed its first case of COVID-19, breaking the Pacific nation’s COVID-free streak.
According to the Vanuatu ministry of health’s dedicated COVID-19 website, the case was detected on Tuesday from a repatriated citizen in quarantine who was asymptomatic.
The citizen will remain in isolation and contact tracing has begun.
ABC News reported the citizen was a 23-year-old man returning from the US and has been transferred to an isolation ward in Porta Vila Central Hospital.
The case has brought Vanuatu to Scenario 2A of its COVID-19 Health Sector Preparedness and Response Plan, which covers confirmed cases in quarantine.
No restrictions have been placed on schools, workplaces, public or private gatherings.
Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman said the situation is under control.
“I want to assure our people that the government will apply strict protocols and COVID-19 measures to ensure the case doesn’t spread and our country remains safe,” he said, according to ABC News.
Vanuatu’s tourism office told Travel Weekly in May that it supported the concept of a Pacific Islands-Australia-New Zealand travel ‘bubble’ once all countries are COVID-19 free.
“The Vanuatu government has been making representations to the governments of Australia and New Zealand in the past week on this matter with the expectation that the country’s COVID-19-free status should ensure Vanuatu’s inclusion and participation in any such ‘travel bubble’, if and when circumstances allow this concept to become a reality.” the tourism office said.
At the time, Vanuatu was still recovering from the devastating cyclone Harold and humanitarian efforts had been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Featured image: iStock/Laszlo Mates