Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman has announced four new active COVID-19 cases in managed quarantine.

They came through repatriation. Three came on the flight from Noumea, New Caledonia and one on the flight from Brisbane, Australia.

“Samples of the cases will be send overseas to determine the specific variant type. Currently, there is no evidence of community transmission,” said the PM.

“The Ministry of Health (MOH) will test 10 other passengers who came on the Brisbane and Noumea flights to determine their COVID-19 status.

“Detection of these cases are a result of the strict COVID-19 prevention and monitoring measures and protocols in place.

“The passengers who returned on the repatriation flights have met every health entry requirement.

“All frontline workers who were at risk of exposure during the arrival of the two flights, have undergone precautionary quarantine. They have followed every requirement and strict protocol in facilitating the flights.

“I am asking everyone in quarantine to follow protocols and hygiene measures, such as washing hands with soap, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, always disinfect touched surfaces suck as tables and chairs and use a mask when instructed.”

Following the detection of the four border cases, the PM declared that the international inbound passenger flights will be suspended until investigation of contact tracing is done.

He appealed to the public to limit social gatherings in public areas including kava bars.

Efate and its offshore islands will move to Alert Level 1 while the rest of Vanuatu remains at Alert Level 0. At Alert Level 1, people are encouraged to maintain hygiene measures.

Eligible citizens who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to do so, to prevent critical illness, hospitalisation and death.

The repatriation flights for this year have resumed since last week.

The first three repatriation flights were received on February 12- a charter flight from New Caledonia with two passengers, another charter flight from New Zealand with eight passengers and an Air Vanuatu flight bringing 86 passengers.

A charter flight on 13 February brought back 100 seasonal workers from Christchurch in New Zealand.

An Air Vanuatu flight from Brisbane returned 81 passengers from Brisbane, Australia, on 15 February and 24 passengers on a Noumea flight the next day.

Passengers of these flights are Vanuatu citizens, government priority project personnel and staff of diplomatic missions.