The National Health Emergency Operation Centre (NHEOC) of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) activated its’ Emergency Response Plan’ last night to validate, track, and contain a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
The situation occurred when one of the students who returned from the first Philippine repatriation flight on 29th September 2020, who later developed COVID-19 but fully recovered and was released from a government quarantine station on 24th November 2020, tested positive on a follow-up test on 26th January 2021, 62 days after his release.
The student who was in Malaita province was contacted to go for his follow-up review and re-swabbing at Kiluúfi hospital on 26th January 2021.
His swab was transferred to the Honiara Molecular Laboratory the same day where it was found to be positive for COVID-19 with the GeneXpert machine.
Based on this result the NHEOC immediately swung into action and managed to locate the student who had travelled to Honiara from Auki by boat yesterday.
The student was collected at 10.30 pm last night and re-swabbed. His result by GeneXpert machine is now NEGATIVE. We are waiting for his result on the qPCR machine. However, we also expect the qPCR result to be negative as well. The student is now recovering at the Field hospital.
The Ministry also despatched an ‘emergency field team’ at 6am this morning by a Solomon Airlines Charter to travel to the village where the student stayed during the past few weeks. Other colleagues from Kiluufi hospital and Auki police joined the team to travel to the village to do contact tracing, undertake community awareness, and to swab every person in the village. The team will return to Honiara tomorrow with the swabs for analysis.
The NHEOC has conducted an initial risk assessment. Based on the two results using the GeneXpert machine, and the nature and characteristics of Covid-19, it is very unlikely that the virus was infective. In other words, it is unlikely the student would infect other people.
The Minister of Health and the Prime Minister had been fully briefed and the Prime Minister had also briefed the Cabinet about the situation.
The Honourable Prime Minister will provide further updates tomorrow on this situation.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet asks members of the public to remain calm. The student is now negative for Covid-19 and it is unlikely he had infected other people.
Please listen out tomorrow for more details through the Prime Minister’s release.