The Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu on Wednesday confirmed 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 remaining few COVID-19-free countries in the world. Prime Minister Bob Loughman announced the case in an address to the nation, assuring citizens that “the country remains safe.”
“The government through the COVID-19 task force will continue to give the public up to date information on the COVID-19 situation and this case in particular,” he said, as cited by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) Pacific news. The infected man had travelled from the U.S. to Vanuatu, via Sydney and Auckland. He was asymptomatic when he arrived in Vanuatu on Nov. 4, but returned a positive test on Tuesday during routine fifth-day testing, the health ministry said.
Loughman said the man had been moved to an isolation facility for treatment and monitoring. Vanuatu closed its borders and announced a coronavirus emergency on March 25. In spite the lack of COVID-19 cases, due to its vulnerability the state of emergency was extended to Dec. 31.
It has only recently started allowing in repatriation flights. Vanuatu is ranked by the World Bank as the most at-risk country in the world to natural disaster.
In April, a powerful Category-V tropical cycle tore through the country affecting more than 159,000 people. According to the latest World Health Organisation data, the remote island nations and territories of Micronesia, Samoa and Tuvalu are among those still believed to be coronavirus-free. (dpa/NAN)