The list of countries that have not recorded a COVID-19 case since the pandemic started has been reduced by one as Vanuatu, a country in Oceania, recorded its first COVID-19 case on Tuesday. The index patient, as reported by the ministry of health in the country is a 23-year-old American that had traveled into the country from a COVID-19 hot-spot in the United States, USA Today reports.
Though asymptomatic, the man had been quarantined after flying into the small pacific coast country on November 4 because of the information in his travel documents, the ministry stated. He later tested positive while he was being quarantined. The ministry’s statement reveals that the virus might not spread as proper precautions were taken even before the man tested positive.
“We were very strict with personal protection as well as physical distancing protocols during and after the flight, we ensured he didn’t have contact with anyone while he was on board, through the arrival procedures, and while he was being transported and registered at the quarantine facility,” the country’s ministry of health stated.
The man will remain in the facility until he is cleared by medical experts, the ministry added. The country which has a population of about 300,000 has managed to evade recording any case of COVID-19 since it started late last year in China. Experts speculate that this is most likely due to its location. The largest country close to it, Australia is about 1,000 miles away from it.
Authorities in Vanuatu announced that the case will be considered as a “border case” and there will be immediate measures put in place to stop its spread. These measures won’t include the closure of schools, workplaces, or businesses but inhabitants will be urged to follow strict handwashing and personal hygiene, CNN reports.
If more cases are recorded, authorities explained, there will be travel restrictions between the many connected islands that make up Vanuatu, and inhabitants with flu-like symptoms will be mandated to put on masks.
Vanuatu used to be one of the few regions in the world that have not recorded any case of COVID-19 according to the “Situation by Country, Territory & Area” report that the World Health Organization has and frequently updates on its website. The list now includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Samoa, and Tonga.
About 217 territories in the world have been affected by the pandemic and more than 1.3 million people have died from the COVID-19 pandemic since it started. The countries have recorded over 52 million cases. The United States has recorded over 10 million COVID-19 cases and about 237,000 Americans have died from the virus.