BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
THE second repatriation flight to bring home students in Philippines was cancelled for a later date due to six more students testing positive for covid-19.
The second repatriation flight arrival date was scheduled for today, November 24, 2020.
These new cases bring to total 28 Solomon Islands students tested positive for covid-19 in the Philippines.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his national address yesterday said, “Fellow citizens 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 three 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,” said Sogavare.
He said the likelihood that many of the other students scheduled for this flight would have been exposed to the six positive students given this new development.
Sogavare with this, 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 six students had broken quarantine. The consequence of the six positive cases is the cancellation of tomorrow’s flight.
“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.
“We urge our students waiting to be repatriated from Manila to take absolute care. Do not to go out from the hotels to the surrounding communities. Manila has an extremely high Community transmission rate. It is very unfortunate that six students had tested positive. This has led to the cancellation of the full flight tomorrow,” he said.