Vanuatu faced the fury of Cyclone Harold. It was a category five cyclone and resulted in large-scale damage across the country. The fury swept away 27 people off a ferry in the Solomon Islands. Vanuatu is one country still safe from Coronavirus but in case of an outbreak, it would find it difficult to cope with it. Its healthcare system might not be in a position to handle the situation. This has got the administration worried. It has to evolve a working formula and the country is, therefore, in a state of emergency. It has implemented some basic precautions to ensure the safety of its people.

The intention is to restrict movement because of the contagious nature of the disease. Vanuatu Met department cautioned that there would be hurricane-force winds accompanied by heavy rainfall, flash floods etcetera. In Luganville, the second-largest city, many properties have already suffered heavy damages.

The Guardian quotes an official of UNICEF Pacific as saying, “Communications to Santo and Malekula [Vanuatu’s two largest islands] are cut now, so we don’t know what’s happening.” He is Eric Durpaire and he spoke over the phone from the country’s capital of Port Vila.

It seems the roof of the municipality building of Santo collapsed.

Restrictions could hamper Cyclone Harold relief work

There are fears in certain quarters that restrictions imposed for tackling coronavirus could disturb the relief work required for cyclone Harold. The government has withdrawn some of these restrictions to allow more flexibility.

It has to give priority to look after the welfare of victims of the cyclone. Therefore, people can now assemble at mass evacuation centers. As Eric Durpaire confirmed, “The government were doing a great job in preparing for coronavirus initially and since last Friday the focus has been in preparing for the cyclone.” Obviously, the authorities have to reassign their priorities.

The Guardian makes mention of Elizabeth Faerua, the country director of Oxfam in Vanuatu. She agrees there is no confirmed COVID-19 case in the country. However, in the event of an outbreak, Vanuatu could face serious challenges to deliver life-saving aid. Cyclone Harold has already resulted in damage and the loss of lives. This is not new when a climatic disorder strikes. Heavy rain and flash floods affect the infrastructure and force people out of their houses.

They lose their habitat. There were reports of many people swept away by the fury of the cyclone in the Solomon Islands – the police subsequently recovered some bodies.

Cyclone Harold affects thousands across Vanuatu

According to ABC AU, the powerful category five Cyclone Harold moves across the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. It has led to bunkering down thousands of people across the country. Many people on Santo went to emergency shelters. An official revealed that the strong winds have uprooted trees and wreaked havoc on food crops. Incidentally, Vanuatu is already in a state of emergency in view of coronavirus. There are no confirmed cases in the country, but the disaster authorities had imposed several restrictions which are being relaxed.

Any cyclone is a climatic disorder and it leaves its mark

Cyclone Harold that struck Vanuatu has damaged the infrastructure and left many dead. There were similar situations in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe when Cyclone Idai took a heavy toll of nearly 500 lives. That was in March 2019. Next month, it was the turn of Cyclone Kenneth and it left 38 dead. These are climatic disorders and Met departments provide advance information but the nature and extent of damage remain unpredictable.

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