COVID BREACH

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Uta Princess II
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Health workers question ‘minister’s interference’

BY MAVIS N. PODOKOLO 

HEALTH minister Dr Culwick Togamana reportedly ignored COVID-19 protocols when he cleared without the knowledge of frontline workers a passenger ship that arrived from Isabel Province yesterday morning.

MV Uta Princess II arrived at Point Cruz wharf with 84 passengers, Island Sun was told by those who were there to clear the ship.

But while frontline health workers were there to check on the vessel, passengers left without adhering to COVID protocols that were expected to be observed by every vessel coming in from the provinces.

“The health minister took matters upon himself by giving orders for passengers to disembark without adhering to required COVID protocols,” one frontline worker told Island Sun.

The frontline worker’s claim was supported by a letter Jacob Makini of Solomon Islands Ports Authority Health team circulated to health workers yesterday.

“M.V Uta Princess II arrived with 84 passengers from Isabel Province requesting clearance from Port Health Team, was intentionally interfered with politically,” Makini wrote.

“Thus, the Port Health Team SOP was tampered with unprofessionally,” he added.

“I was checking through the documents provided by the ship’s clerk to confirm the health status of each passenger on their swab results.

“20 passengers boarded the vessel at Buala have their RAT result certificates attached that were swabbed on 21st/03/22 whilst the others who boarded the vessel from other coastal ports were confirmed not swabbed.

“On my way to the vessel to make announcements and arrangements for swabbing, and to my surprise, all passengers had already disembarked the vessel carrying their belongings/luggage to the wharf and awaiting transport.

“I approached the security and ask him who cleared the vessel and he said ‘Minister of Health Hon. C. Togamana cleared the vessel and allow passengers to disembark upon directives from Ministry of Health’.

“Please can this incident be dealt with immediately and accordingly to avoid future precedence that may arise and might go out of hand?

“Collectively, it is the responsibility of all of us to fight against this earthly evil during this difficult period,” Makini wrote.

When contacted last night, Togamana said:

“I will not make any comments unless I see and read the letter.”

In recent weeks, passengers arriving in Honiara from the provinces have to be tested to confirm their COVID status.

A vessel arriving from Western Province has to have some of its passengers quarantined for couple of days after some of the passengers were tested positive.


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