EDITORIAL- Let’s keep our guard on….

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TWO of 14-crew members of a vessel that arrived in Honiara last week have been tested positive for COVID-19.

The PNG-registered landing craft sailed from Lae under a private charter arrangement.

The COVID-19 Oversighted Committee vessel exemption committee was only aware of the arrangement when the vessel sailed into Point Cruz Harbour.

Immediately, and due to a serious threat, it ordered the crew members to undergo covid-19 tests.

Although all crew were tested negative before boarding in Lae, two returned with positive tests, prompting authorities to put the vessel into immediate quarantine.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said in his nation-wide address yesterday:

“This vessel has been put into immediate quarantine.

“No one is allowed to board the vessel without the permission of the Incident Controller, and no one from the vessel is allowed to disembark.

“The two positive cases are currently isolated on the vessel, while our health team for execution develops a vessel and cargo containment and decontamination plan.”

This is a quite a shocking incident and one that could have resulted in the spread of the pandemic had the two crews were not detected.

It therefore calls for more stringent measures when it comes to foreign vessel arrivals.

Interestingly, this particular landing craft, MV Kopi Chief, came under a private charter that was arranged without the knowledge and approval of the Oversight Committee.

How could they do this?

Did the local charterer realize the risks it put on the country when they make the arrangement?

The threat from COVID-10 remains high. We just cannot let our guards down yet.

Government must continue to employ stricter and stringent measures at our borders to protect us all from COVID-19.

Any companies or individuals putting our country at risk must be dealt with promptly and severely.