COVID patients on Ontong Java surviving on their own

Ontong Java island of Luaniua from above. Photo: Beni Knight.
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An Atoll Island, Ontong Java, where the first covid-19 transmission occurred was left abandoned almost a month with its positive cases only to survive using local herbs with holy oil.

A community leader John Mao, in an interview with Island Sun yesterday, says they are still waiting for medical team to be sent from Honiara, essential and non-essential covid-19 medical supplies.

He said they have received assurance from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services but until now they are still uncertain when the medical team and medical supplies will arrive.

He said from rumours they heard that a vessel is on its way and expecting to arrive midnight or today morning.

Island Sun understands the Oversight Committee have engaged Solomon Prestige 2 to deploy the medical team and medical supplies when all requirements are fulfilled.

All vessels must go through an arrangement by Solomon Island Marine Time Authority (SIMA), N-DOC Infrastructure Sector Committee, Health and with coordination to provincial disaster operation committee by National Operation Center.

A check to SIMA office to confirm whether or not the Solomon Prestige 2 has left for Ontong Java could not confirm that.

SIMA says the vessel should go out for anchorage and return for final approval before it can depart for MOI.

At this stage people on Ontong Java are still experiencing flu and rely on local herbs and holy water for recovery.

Chairman of Malaita Outer Islands Covid-19 Taskforce Lawrence Makili said Ontong Java is the first location COVID-19 community transmission has been declared, but the Government has not given any priority to it.

“The Oversight Committee should make immediate response by deploying a medical team but until today there is no medical team being sent,” Makili said.

He said what surprised him is other provinces already received their food relief supplies.

He made reference to Western and Choiseul provinces who already took delivery of the much-needed food supplies to support the operation of their quarantine and isolation stations on 14 February.

Makili questioned why the oversight committee prioritized Western and Choiseul provinces over Malaita Outer Islands.

“Ontong Java was abandoned with its positive cases, there was no observation and data collection on the ground.

“All fundings for covid-19 preparedness were dumped on the two same locations, Western and Choiseul province.

“No funds had been utilised on Ontong Java on Covid-19 facilities.

“It is like the Oversight Committee had neglected the people of Malaita Outer Islands,” he said.

Makili said his committee is well established but the authorities never appreciate community initiatives.

“We have structures in place and communication and prepare to work with the authorities in networking and dissemination of information but all our enquiries have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

He also questioned the Oversight Committee for engaging a fishing vessel own by JQY to deploy medical team to MOI.