The Public Service Commission (PSC) has banned all civil servants from traveling to China amid the coronavirus outbreak

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has banned all civil servants from traveling to China amid the coronavirus outbreak that is claiming lives there and spreading to neighboring countries.

A Task Force formed to monitor any cases and strengthen border control has expanded the instruction to include ordinary citizens.

Traveling to other Asian countries with confirmed coronavirus cases such as Australia is limited with extra precaution.

Chairman of PSC, Martin Mahe, said civil servants must ask permission from PSC for any oversea trips. “Any civil servants who fail to comply with the restriction will be subjected to subordination.

“The instruction is valid until further notice,” he said.

Currently, Vanuatu has no direct flights from China like Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia which have initially stepped up measures and security.

The Acting Director of the Department of Public Health who is also the Chairman of the Task Force, Donald Pelam, said strict regulations will also be imposed on travelers coming from China and other Asian countries.

“Travelers will have to be quarantined in Australia for at least 14 days before entering the country,” he said.

“All air and sea travelers will be required to undergo screening upon arrival and departure,” he said.

Director of the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue, Harold Tarosa, said the department will be strengthening border requirements with the introduction of new arrival cards to get details of all travelers and to prevent transmission of the virus in the country.

Acting Superintendent of the Vila Central Hospital (VCH), Dr Tony Harry, said there is no medicine and vaccine against the coronavirus.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) is trying to develop a vaccine to stop the spread of the virus.

“There is no evidence at this point of time that the virus is airborne but people are advised to take preventive measures; wash hands and cover their nose when sneezing to prevent the virus from spreading, “ he said.

As of last night, the coronavirus death toll reached 81 with nearly 3,000 confirmed cases since its discovery in the city of Wuhan. The virus was first reported to WHO last December and has not been declared as an epidemic.

The Coronavirus Task Force established recently to respond to any suspected cases comprises agencies such as Immigration, South Sea Shipping, Customs, Biosecurity and the Ministry of Health.

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