BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
THREE foreign sailors who called in at Honiara port over the weekend have been tested positive for COVID-19.
Health minister Dr Culwick Togamana announced this yesterday.
The sailors came on board commercial vessel, MV Run Fu 6.
But Togamana said front line workers who boarded the vessel for swabbing were in their Personal Protective Equipment and also fully vaccinated
“With the test results, the vessel was immediately put under quarantine with no unauthorized persons to board,” he said.
“Further testing is being conducted for these crews and depending on the results, the next course of action will be determined,” he added.
Togamana then said whilst they are controlling possible transmission by air, they are now focused on ensuring the country’s protocols dealing with vessels are sharpened.
“This is to ensure we do not allow COVDI-19 infections enter the country through our ports,” he said.
Further to that he said over the past 18 months, through the efforts of the Vessels Exemption Committee they have applied protocols to be able to protect the country.
“This is the 4th Foreign Vessel (MV Run Fu 6) we have picked up COVID-19 positive crew members when the vessel is in port and before it was cleared.
“As a result of the increasing incidence of finding COVID-19 positive crew members on foreign vessels, the Oversight Committee’s Vessel exemption committee will be tightening up requirements for foreign vessels to adhere to when travelling to Solomon Islands,” Togamana said.
He said the increase in numbers of crew members testing positive is a function of possibly previously infected people boarding vessels despite testing negative for CVID-19.
“In some cases, these people continue to release the virus for longer period as they have seen in cases across the World and in Solomon Islands too.
“Hence, we are picking up most of those cases in Solomon Islands.
“They are presumed to be negative but we do all the necessary investigations and take prudent action to prevent entry of the virus.
“Thank you to the frontliners and your families who supported the detailed investigations.
These incidents and increasing trend of foreign ship crews positive with COVID-19 is one of the reasons our total eligible population must get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Togamana said.