World News

A small Pacific island nation recorded its first Covid-19 case in a man who visited the US

Posted November 11, 2020 11:04 a.m. EST

— The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, formerly one of the few places in the world untouched by coronavirus, has recorded its first Covid-19 case.

This week, a 23-year-old man who'd returned from traveling to the US tested positive while he was quarantining. The man, who'd flown back to Vanuatu on November 4, was asymptomatic, Vanuatu's health ministry said Tuesday.

"Physical distancing and personal protection measures were applied and maintained during the flight, throughout the arrival process, during transport to and during registration at the quarantine facility," the ministry said in a news release.

The man will remain in isolation until health clearance is given, the ministry said.

Coronavirus has spread to 217 countries and territories, and there are over 51 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide. Over 1.3 million people have died from the virus since China reported its first case in late December 2019.

Vanuatu, a country of nearly 300,000, had avoided recording any Covid-19 cases. It likely avoided the virus because of its remote location -- it's over 1,000 miles from Australia, its largest neighbor -- and because it's made up of several smaller, unconnected islands.

Vanuatu considers the single case of Covid-19 a "border case" and will move to contain the spread of the virus. It won't shut down schools or workplaces or impose restrictions on gatherings, but it will maintain handwashing stations throughout the country and encourage residents to follow hygiene measures.

The country's next stage, if a cluster of cases are recorded, will include travel restrictions between islands and the use of masks for people with Covid-19 symptoms.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.