Oversight’s oversight?

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Members of the Oversight Committee. Photo PETER ZOLEVEKE II
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Government had allowed a high-risk passenger to be quarantined with low-risk ones in the heart of Honiara

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

A positive covid-19 case detected in a quarantine site in the heart of Honiara may be the result of government oversight, it is reported.

Island Sun has learnt from witnesses in the October-25 flight that the covid-19 patient who had travelled from Korea had sat close to the player accused of breaching safety protocols [refusing to wear face mask] in the plane. Yet, authorities deemed it fit that he be quarantined along with low-risk passengers at the King Sol Hotel quarantine site.

All the high-risk passengers are reportedly quarantined at the SA Accommodations at Henderson, east of Honiara.

Sources tell the paper meanwhile that this passenger had boarded the flight covid-free, and had contracted the virus via flight.

Government has said as part of its anti-covid measures, high-risk passengers in repatriation flights are identified upon arrival and quarantined at the same location to safeguard other passengers regarded as low-risk.

However, this latest revelation speaks otherwise and indicates serious risky loopholes.

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Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Secretary to the prime minister and member of government’s covid-19 oversight committee, could not comment when contacted yesterday for an explanation.

Pauline McNeil, permanent secretary to the Health Ministry and member of the covid-19 oversight committee, when contacted yesterday for comments referred the paper instead to the “incident controller”.

She interrupted questions, saying, “The distance on that, those on the operation will have detail on the sitting arrangement on the flight, our ‘incident controller. We will have to refer it to the incident controller.”

Speaking during an earlier ‘special address’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said all the returning 16 players were seated together in the flight, which minimises the risk of potential spread to other passengers.

Despite the Prime Minister saying the remaining travellers on that flight have all been quarantined in single rooms to minimise any potential spread should any of them become positive, it does not go down well with members of the general public learning that one the recent positive Covid-19 cases was identified from within the centre of Honiara. The location for quarantine is what members of the general public disagree on.

“With the exposure that was understood from the flight being reported, why were all these passengers not quarantined in one isolation centre that is far out from the main centre of the capital,” raise concern.

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