PORT VILA,13 MARCH 2020 (VANUATU DAILY POST)—-Vanuatu President Obed Moses Tallis Thursday shared his concerns and advices with the National Coronavirus Task Force, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Acting Director of the Department of Planning, Policy and Corporate Services of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Media Focal Person of the National Coronavirus Task Force, Russel Tamata,told the Daily Post.
“We have met with the Head of State and the chairman of the Public Service Commission today (Thursday),” he confirmed, after elaborating on the implications of an epidemic and a pandemic.
“The President summoned us today to give instructions which we will sit to consider on Monday next week.
“We briefed the President on the Response Plan and have taken his advices on board, his concerns are about the health and welfare of the people which we appreciate.
“The Public Service Commission will be issuing a directive shortly for relevant Directors General and Directors to convene and discuss the president’s instructions and the best way it can be addressed to benefit everyone.”
The WHO defines pandemic as a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time. As the government is in caretaker mode and the former ministers are out on the campaign trail, the dialogue with the Head of State is much appreciated.
Tamata revealed President Tallis will address the people of Vanuatu after the meeting with other relevant Directors next week.
“Health has its own cluster and we must understand when there is a crisis and situations like this it involves the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) as it has the mandate to call each cluster and activate each sector so it doesn’t backfire on us economically and to ensure there is a better understanding and balance of the decisions we make.
“It is not easy to make the decisions we make. This is one of the first of its kind. We have natural disasters such as cyclones and volcanoes but this is the first of its kind.
“We are refocusing our resources on tackling this and hope other ministries will fall in line. It’s not business as usual, we are re-organising ourselves.
“It will hit us big time. The decisions we make on behalf of the people and its implications will be tough ones. The slightest mistake we make can backfire on us, especially with border control.
“But we are putting measures in place to contain it and try as much as possible to prepare and tighten up controls at the borders.”
The challenge that Vanuatu faces with limited resources is real.
“Resource wise at the Isolation Ward at the Vila Central Hospital (VCH) we can only take up to 20 patients and for critical cases around two or three,”Tamata said.
“The Task Force is working to fast-track work on this. The health cluster must ensure the availability of resources we need on the ground, we are happy after the training last week and this week we are mobilising resources and meeting with our partners and setting up the isolation ward.
He said when it comes to border control there is a need for wider consultations.
“We need to talk, especially with our business partners.”
Tamata also acknowledged the criticisms levelled at the work the Task Force is doing.
“There is a lot of talk, there is panic but I encourage the people to listen and get the right information on our response.
“We feel the same, we are ni-Vanuatu and we are weighing the decisions and implications we make on behalf of the people of Vanuatu.”
The government had approved a budget of Vt32 million (US$266,000) for the National Coronavirus Task Force to work with earlier this year……PACNEWS