Vanuatu – an island country in the South Pacific Ocean – has recorded its first case of COVID-19 after a citizen who had been repatriated from the US tested positive while in quarantine.
With a population of 300,000, it had been among the last few countries to have avoided coronavirus altogether.
Health authorities say a 23-year-old man was asymptomatic when he returned to Vanuatu on 4 November – and that he was confirmed to be infected on Tuesday after routine testing.
Officials say they intend to ensure everyone who was on his flight self-isolates and to trace his close contacts, but they do not plan to impose any broader measures.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, India‘s capital, Delhi, recorded a new high of 7,830 additional COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, as festivals and weddings attended by large crowds fuelled a resurgence.
After dropping to almost 1,000 in September, the city’s tally continued to be more than 7,000 a day this week – with authorities testing people in shopping areas, workplaces and religious places in an effort to tackle the outbreak.
A further 512 deaths were also confirmed in the country on Wednesday, taking the total to 127,571 – the third-highest behind the US and Brazil.
In China – where the outbreak started – a leading health official said the country “will very likely prevent” a new round of infections given present trends.
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Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Singapore will establish an “air travel bubble” on 22 November, allowing travellers from the two cities to visit the other without having to quarantine, in a first step to stimulate tourism amid the pandemic.
Under the plan, tourists from either city must take nucleic acid tests before their flight, after arrival and before their return to prove they do not have the coronavirus.
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