BY BEN BILUA
Gizo’s first covid-19 case is heading for Honiara, onboard MV Vimaru Pearl.
Health officials in Western Province are not yet sure which covid-19 variant the Gizo patient is being diagnosed with.
The vessel was yesterday reported headed for the capital for ‘further interventions’.
Director of Western Province Health and Medical Authority Dickson Boara said the lab only detects the virus’s presence, not which type of covid-19.
He said only further testing will determine the type of covid-19 strain.
According to Vessel Assessment documents from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, MV Vimaru reached Vietnam on June 18 then Philippines on June 23 before heading to Solomon Islands.
Vietnam and Philippines are listed as extreme high-risk countries and as part of the country’s safety protocols, the ship was told to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival at Gizo, Western Province on July 1.
Speaking of extreme high risk, the Philippines detected its first two cases of B.1.617 variant coronavirus variant known as the India variant added to the two existing variants on May 11 this year [Reuters].
Around the same month, Vietnam also uncovered a new covid-19 variant combining characteristics of the two existing variants first found in India and the UK, the report added.
When speaking to the media on Wednesday, Chairperson of Western Province Response Team, Jeffrey Wickham said the situation is under control and officials are putting efforts to track down and put frontline workers who have been in contact with the ship to quarantine.
He adds that contact tracing team is monitoring the frontline workers’ movements in the days leading up to Wednesday when the positive case was announced.
Island Sun understands that MV Vimaru Pearl, with the covid-19 patient, left Western Province headed for Honiara for further intervention yesterday.
Meanwhile, it is noted that the positive case was announced a week after the Parliament Health and Medical Committee visited quarantine facilities in Western Province.
Initial findings of the committee speaks volumes that there is a need for government support towards quarantine facilities so as frontline workers in the province.