This is to support Western Provincial Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC) to respond to potential entry and community transmission of COVID-19 at Komaliae village in the Shortland Islands, a statement from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services said.
“The deployment is in response to reports received that a man from Bougainville allegedly crossed the emergency zone declared by Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG) into the Solomon Islands and after week back to Bougainville with his wife.
“Three locals aided the man’s entry and exit from the Solomon’s western border according to incident report received,” the statement said.
The deployment of SOLMAT therefore is crucial as the Bougainvillean man spent a week at the Komaliae village with an estimated population of over 200 and during the week, a sports tournament was also held which essentially means the potential risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is very high, the statement added.
“The team deployed will be supporting the PHEOC to conduct, surveillance and contact tracing as well as collecting samples for COVID-19 testings to as much as possible all people within the community to ensure that any COVID-19 cases is detected and addressed accordingly to prevent any community transmission,” the statement said.
With this Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Pauline McNeil once again urges all citizens across the country to take responsibility in protecting our families, communities and the country against COVID-19, a global pandemic.
“We must not take for granted our COVID-19 free status and start to let our guards down. Because doing so we are risking the health and lives of our children, families, friends and the nation as a whole,” explained Mrs. McNeil.
She further stated that such incidences requires responses that are not only costly but also time-consuming and for health this means diverting our already stretched resources from other health areas that also require attention to address the incident in Komaliae village.
She also highlighted that based on reports received those who aided the border crossing claimed that the man did not show any respiratory symptoms.
“This assessment and determination must be left to trained health professionals and not for the us the public to make. We can simply contribute by constant practice of hand washing with soap or hand sanitizer, coughing into bent elbows and maintain social distancing of at least one meter,” she said.
For Komaliae community, the MHMS advises that people should adhere to specific instructions and messages that SOLMAT will be providing.