Covid-19 now in provinces

Passengers and cargo vessels going out from Honiara are transporting COVID-19 to the provinces in the country. 

PM Manasseh Sogavare

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare confirms that 23 people from MV Awka are positive with Covid-19. He also confirms that seven Crew members of MV Nusa Tupe were tested positive for Covid.

Mr Sogavare says three of the 23 people on Awka are quite sick and have been transferred to the field hospital. The rest are being quarantined.

“We must now backtrack and check all the villages in South Malaita this vessel went to before it was recalled because Covid-19 outbreaks could already be happening in these villages.”

The Ministry of Health is waiting for the test results of the crew of MV Fair Chief that went to Malaita, Makira, and Choiseul provinces. 

“If any crew test positive, then they would have also taken Covid-19 to these provinces because 4 people from MV Awka went on this vessel to Makira,” Mr Sogavare says.

He said as of early this morning it has been reported that seven crew members of MV Nusa Tupe, a cargo vessel that departed from Honiara on 15th of January 2022 have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“That vessel which dropped off several passengers at Rukutu village in Marovo lagoon on 16th January before proceeding to other western ports has been recalled and is returning to Honiara.”

The Prime Minister says there was a major event at Rukutu village at the time the passengers were dropped as they were undertaking a Centenary Celebration of the landing of the Church in the village.

Mr Sogavare says hundreds of people around Marovo lagoon attended this event from as far west as Choiseul. 

“This event has become a potential super-spreader of Covid-19 in Marovo lagoon and the western province.

“We are following a further lead of another vessel that left Honiara over the weekend that may have taken Covid-19 to several western ports,” he says. 

The Prime Minister adds: “This simply means, COVID-19 is now exported to provinces from Honiara through ships that sail from Honiara to provinces.” 

As of yesterday, a total of 126 samples were taken of which 57 came back positive. This brings the total number of positive Covid-19 cases to 320

However, the Prime Minister says the figures released during yesterday’s talk-back did not reflect the total numbers of swabs taken in the 24 hours between 8am Saturday 22nd January to 8am 23rd January due to limitation in our laboratory to analyse all the swabs.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Pauline Mcneil told the Talkback show yesterday that a further 57 new Covid-19 cases as of 1pm yesterday. 

But Prime Minister Sogavare said this afternoon that the real numbers of positive cases would be higher.

“These increases are directly related to the free movement of people. Many of the people that are moving freely around the city or out from the city to the provinces are carrying the virus without knowing it.”

He says although the original outbreak of Covid-19 in the country started from Ontong Java, Honiara is now the epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country.

by Jared Koli 

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