Solomon Islands records first COVID-19 case with repatriation flight suspended

Source: Xinhua| 2020-10-03 16:26:40|Editor: huaxia

SYDNEY, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Solomon Islands recorded its first ever COVID-19 case, who is a male student returning from the Philippines on the repatriation flight.

According to reports by local media SIBC, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced it at a special nationwide address on Saturday afternoon.

"This is disappointing setback to the extraordinary efforts of all officials, personnel, and stake holders that had been actively involved in working to prevent COVID-19 entering Solomon Islands," Sogavare said.

"Despite the unfortunate situation, which our country is now experiencing, I would like to assure the public that the preparedness and responsible measure the government has diligently worked on implementing over the past eight months have been activated and now in full operation," he said.

Solomon Islands planned to use repatriation flight to take back students studying in the Philippines and Indonesia in September and the first repatriation flight flied back to the country on Sept. 29. Those who wanted to board on the plane must undertake three rounds of testing.

Sogavare said the student who was confirmed as the first COVID-19 case was tested negative in all three compulsory tests before boarding the plane.

There were about 144 students on the Philippine repatriation flight. All the arrivals have to undertake post-arrival testing within 48 hours of arrival and the student was picked up during the first test round, said the prime minister.

A further specimen has been collected for confirmation. Two students who were in contact with the infected student were also tested. The three students' results will be available later on Saturday.

The three students are all now in the isolation ward of the National Referral Hospital and waiting for further assessment. The contacting tracing has been commenced including informing people in Manila who are in contact with the infected student and precaution measures have been taken, according to local media report.

Risk assessment was also carried out for all the frontline staff that work on the repatriation flight back from the Philippines. Staff who are in contact with the infected student will also be in quarantine and tested, the prime minister said.

"The government is confident of its capacity to respond, contain and manage the situation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the public are maintained," he said.

The prime minister said that there will be no general lockdown because the government is confident in the system and professionals.

This is the first repatriation flight Solomon Islands conducted from the Philippines before which the Solomon Airlines already conducted 11 repatriation flights from Brisbane of Australia, Vila of Vanuatu, Nadi of Fiji, Auckland of New Zealand, Guangzhou of China and Apia of Samoa.

There are another two repatriation flights planned previously for the Philippines.

Sogavare said due to the current situation the government is suspending and reviewing the rest repatriation flights to ensure it is in full control of the situation. Enditem