Authorities call for stop to stigma against Sumari village

Photo by TBL online.
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AUTHORITIES are calling on the public in Malaita to stop stigmatising Sumari village and its people.

This call goes especially to the communities surrounding Sumari.

The Malaita Provincial Emergency Operation Centre (MPEOC) makes this call following reports that the people of Sumari are being denied social services and are being avoided by members of surrounding communities.

Sumari village is where last month’s covid-19 reactivation case occurred.

Mr Nixon Olofisau from MPEOC says “it must be made very clear to everyone that there is low risk of possible spread of covid-19 in Sumari community and everything is normal and nothing to fear”.

“This is the beginning of the stigma and it went on and to an extent where children from the community didn’t allow attending classes.

“Even people from the community didn’t allow going to clinic, market and other public services.

“It really stigmatized the people from the primary community and even now they still have the disgrace where it shouldn’t,” Olofisau said.

He said MPEOC has a plan to correct the stigma and their first team was deployed to the communities in East Malaita on Wednesday and the next team tomorrow (Saturday, Feb 6).

Olofisau said the focus of the deployment is to provide awareness to the communities to let them know that the communities are free from covid-19 virus.

The student was living at his home in Sumari, having been discharged 62 days earlier after testing negative for the virus, when a re-test exercise found him positive of covid-19.

However, immediate follow-up tests gave negative results. Contact tracing offered negative results for all 31 people the student had come into contact with since arriving home.

Covid-19 authorities in the capital, Honiara, are monitoring the situation closely but are calling for calm, reassuring that there is no evidence for mass panic.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his national address following the covid-19 scare gave his word that authorities are handling the matter and appealed for calm, saying currently there is no evidence to suggest community transmission had taken place.

He adds that because of this, there was no reason to enforce a lock-down.