Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Vanuatu records first COVID-19 case

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The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu confirmed on Wednesday its first case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The remote island country of around 300,000 people had been one of the few remaining COVID-19-free countries in the world.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman announced the case in a speech to the nation, assuring citizens that “the country remains safe.”

“The government through the COVID-19 working group will continue to provide the public with updated information on the COVID-19 situation and this particular case,” he said, quoted by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) Pacific News.

The infected man had traveled from the United States to Vanuatu, via Sydney and Auckland.

He was asymptomatic when he arrived in Vanuatu on November 4, but tested positive on Tuesday during routine tests on the fifth day, the Health Ministry said.

Loughman said the man had been transferred to an isolation facility for treatment and monitoring.

Vanuatu closed its borders and announced a coronavirus emergency on March 25.

Despite the lack of COVID-19 cases, due to its vulnerability, the state of emergency was extended until December 31.

Only recently has it started allowing repatriation flights.

Vanuatu is ranked by the World Bank as the country in the world most at risk of natural disasters.

In April, a powerful Category V tropical cycle swept through the country, affecting more than 159,000 people.

According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, the remote island nations and territories of Micronesia, Samoa and Tuvalu are among those still believed to be free of coronavirus. (dpa / NAN)

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