Vanuatu considers mandatory Covid testing

The Director of Public Health in Vanuatu says the country is considering mandatory Covid testing for those who return to the country.

Currently, only citizens are allowed into Vanuatu and they must spend two weeks in managed quarantine. But they're not tested for the coronavirus unless they are displaying symptoms.

The director, Len Tarivonda, said authorities are considering introducing testing on day 11, but with only 8000 test cartridges, it's a matter of supply.

"If we are going to test everyone in quarantine, especially from the hotspot areas, not everyone who goes into quarantine, but those with high ...risk. Then obviously we will need to talk to our partners or the government will need to source more Covid-19 tests," he said.

Vanuatu has not had any cases of Covid-19.

Tarivonda added that an increasing number of Covid-19 cases across the Pacific has Vanuatu rethinking its repatriation policies.

A New Zealand Air Force flight brought back 119 ni-Vanuatu from Christchurch this week, Tarivonda said they're concerned about the level 3 lockdown in Auckland.

He said the government is looking at its quarantine protocols, including its limited testing capacity, and may stagger out further flights.

"It is worrying us a bit and I guess the situation in particularly in three countries in the region, Australia, Melbourne in particular, and Auckland in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. They are making us rethink our quarantine protocols," he said.

Tarivonda said Vanuatu only has the capacity to quarantine 450 people at any one time.