Solomon Islands records 1 more new Covid-19 case

Solomon Islands has recorded 1 more new Covid-19 positive case.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced in its nationwide address this afternoon.

He says “the case is one of our nationals that returned to the country on the Garuda Airlines charter flight that arrived from Indonesia on 17 November 2020.”

This latest case now brings the total number of registered cases in the country to 17.

“Of the 17, six are now negative, and 11 remain positive. Of the 11 cases, 10 are our soccer players that returned from England on 25 October 2020.”

“…this revelation has raised a new concern in relation to the virulence of the COVID-19 strain that came in from the United Kingdom. These players have now been in the country for 4 weeks. However, unlike the cases that came from Philippines and Korea that converted to negative within 2-3 weeks, the strain from the UK is still positive after 4 weeks.

“This finding has fully vindicated our testing protocol whereby we require 3 consecutive negative tests after the person tested positive before they can be released from the quarantine station to a lower level (step down) quarantine facility for another week before being released home.

“If we had followed the current global practice of releasing these persons without further testing on day 14 after they tested positive, we would have released people that are still positive into the community and started a community transmission of the virus.

“The next test of the soccer players is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday 24 November 2020. This is 30 days after their return to Solomon Islands. It is my hope that most if not all of them will come back negative so that the numbers of active cases in our country can reduce from the current 11 cases to a lower figure.

“I am pleased to inform you all that our Field hospital will most likely become operational this week. Once it is opened, all our existing Covid-19 positive cases will be transferred to the new field hospital.

“Work will also start soon on the refurbishment of the current TB ward at the National referral hospital to convert it into a 16-bed isolation facility. Once completed this facility will enhance the Ministry of Health’s capacity to manage patients requiring isolation facilities.

“I am deeply sorry to inform you all that the repatriation flight from Manila that was scheduled to arrive tomorrow, Tuesday 24 November 2020, has been cancelled to a later date.

“The reason for the cancellation is that we have just received the test results of all 143 passengers a short while ago, and 6 of the students returned positive tests for Covid-19.

“This is extremely unfortunate as this flight had been planned for a long time. We commenced our 21-days pre-departure tests 3 weeks ago on those that were scheduled to travel on this flight.

“Obviously, the students had broken quarantine in Manila. They could not have contracted Covid-19 in the hotel. They would have gone out of the hotel. They have now put all the students living in the same hotel at risk,” PM Sogavare says.

“Given this new development, and the likelihood that many of the other students scheduled for this flight would have been exposed to the 6 positive students, the Oversight Committee had recommended that the flight be postponed to another date. Our health team is currently undertaking contact tracing. As soon as we have a clearer picture of the situation, we will reschedule the flight.

“I ask all the students remaining in Manila at huge cost to the country, please, do not do things that will put other students and our country at risk. We will establish if the 6 students had broken quarantine. The consequence of the 6 positive cases is the cancellation of tomorrow’s flight.

“My good people I thank you for your continued support to our students staying in our quarantine stations in the country. They deserve our support as they undergo this sacrifice to protect our nation.

“I am happy to reassure the nation that where we can, we will intervene to stop the importation of Covid-19 into the country, as we have just done with the cancellation of the flight from Manila tomorrow.

“Where the virus had inadvertently entered the country, we will detect, isolate, manage and eliminate it from our border quarantine stations.

“With God’s Grace, and the dedication of all our front-liners, we have been able to contain all Covid-19 cases in the country to date, in our quarantine stations.”