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Quarantined returned citizens and residents cleared

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Port Vila, 6 April 2020: The Vanuatu Ministry of Health has cleared all returned citizens and residents, arrivals from international flights, to go home after 14 days in quarantine at a hotel.

“The Ministry of Health confirms that the people in quarantine are cleared to return home and be reunited with families and friends,” said Len Tarivonda, Director of Public Health. “We appreciate that it has not been the easiest of times and thank these individuals and their families for their full cooperation to keep our country safe”.

Quarantine is a public health precaution to physically separate healthy individuals from others to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. During the quarantine period, a package of services and support were provided. These included accommodation, meals, health checks, and psychosocial assessments and support. None of the individuals displayed symptoms consistent with COVID-19, which can include fever, coughing and sneezing, and breathing difficulties.

“We acknowledge the hotel management and staff for helping to meet accommodation and catering needs of these individuals while in quarantine”, Director Tarivonda stated. “In addition we thank the Ministry’s staff and partners including NDMO for the package of care and support provided”.

The Ministry of Health is working tirelessly to ensure ongoing public health information and teams reach communities, as often inaccurate information in the media births fear and stigma.

Director Tarivonda encourages families and friends of those who were in quarantine to accept them, saying, “Families as well as the wider community, are encouraged to welcome them with open arms”. Additionally, he assures, “Our role is to provide information and support to these individuals, their families and communities.”

While remaining alert to COVID-19, with the imminent threat of severe Tropical Cyclone Harold, the Health Cluster and partners are prepared to work with the NDMO respond at national and provincial levels. Messages of safe hand hygiene practices at homes, public places as well as in evacuation centres are as much a part of the cyclone preparedness as they are for COVID-19.

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