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Country prepares for worst as it waits for test results of two coronavirus suspects early this week

BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO


THE country is holding its breath as it awaits results to samples from two persons suspected of having the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
Health authorities say the first could be received as early as today, Monday, March 16, with the second on Wednesday.
The first sample was sent on Friday last week, and the second on Sunday 15th March.
If the results return positive then Solomon Islands will officially have its first coronavirus case.
Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Pauline McNeil, at a talkback show yesterday at the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), said, “The samples have been sent to Melbourne. Hence, the ministry of health is waiting for the two samples until we know of the results then we can say there’s an infected case in the country, but now it’s only suspected.
“As to date the country has not yet had any confirmed case of COVID-19.”
In preparing for the worst, health authorities are getting an isolation ward ready at the national referral hospital (NRH); a triage area is also being set up where persons can be assessed.
Mrs McNeil said laboratory testing for COVID-19 is done is Australia.
She said the ministry is also looking at options for testing COVID-19 here.
“Currently the surveillance team is finalising contact tracing procedures for any confirmed cases for COVID-19.”
Director Laboratory at the NRH Alfred Dofai said the last four cases of suspected carriers had taken 72 hours before the results were made known.
“So, with the recent ones we have sent one sample on Friday and we still following it up and then another one was sent yesterday to Melbourne,” said Dofai.
Dr Neimia Bainivalu Undersecretary for Ministry of Health said if the results are positive the ministry is prepared.
Bainivalu explains that they will work on various fronts.
“One is to work in coordination in terms of law with various ministries and various arms of government, secondly in terms of trying to assist in our borders like seaport and airport we are working closely with immigrations and customs to impose the travel restriction that actually imposed now, also we do temperature screening to all passengers that came in at the airport and already more than 1000 plus passengers have been screened.
“Apart from that we have set guidelines and protocol on if we have one positive case of COIVD-19 and to also provide accurate and rightful information to the public through risk communication team,” he said.

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