Air Vanuatu Coronavirus Update
Air Vanuatu today provided an update on its contingency planning in response to the Novel Coronavirus.
The airline is working closely with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health (MoH) and the National Coronavirus Taskforce to support an awareness campaign and to mitigate the risk of contamination through our international gateways.
“We have been asked to sit on the National Coronavirus Taskforce beside the Vanuatu Tourism Office and Airports Vanuatu Ltd so that we can together mitigate risks in Vanuatu. We are doing this in conjunction with the Department of Health, Customs, Quarantine, Immigration and other Government agencies and private sector stakeholders, including the cruise operators” says Derek Nice, Air Vanuatu Chief Executive Officer.
“We have also created a special response team to coordinate with partner airlines, international airports and regulatory agencies,” says Mr. Nice.
As a precautionary measure, Air Vanuatu has asked all employees to follow recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), as outlined below:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Air Vanuatu has commenced providing masks and gloves for staff members who wish to wear them, although this is a precaution and not a response to a perceived concern. Hand sanitizers and dispensers have also been made available for our employees and travelers.
According to Captain Francois Lategan, Air Vanuatu’s General Manager Flight Operations, air travel offers few risks. “On modern aircraft the air supply is highly purified. Our Boeing 737 aircraft have cabin air systems with similar performance to those used to keep the air clean in hospital operating rooms and industry clean rooms.
“Our flight crew are trained to identify and handle sick passengers onboard. In the event of a reported case of a possibly ill passenger, we follow standard operating procedures by immediately assessing and contain the situation, and subsequently communicate with the public health authorities, who meet with travelers upon landing.”
The situation is evolving quickly and further restrictions on travel may potentially apply. Individual travelers are advised to review their plans taking into account information available from their governments, travel restrictions in place, their travel insurance arrangements and the surrounding risks at the time they finalize their travel plans.
Manager Marketing & Communications
+678 712011 (Vanuatu)
Release for publication: 31 January 2020