Temotu Province has become the ninth and final province to experience an outbreak of COVID-19. With over 400 plus cases reported in the past nine days from Lata, Tikopia and Dendu, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has, over the weekend, deployed a team of medical and public health workers to the province.
The deployment is in response to a request from the provincial Health Service based on the increasing number of cases, critical staff shortages and other gaps in its response to COVID-19 community transmission.
The team will provide support to Lata Hospital nurses to manage cases in the isolation ward, support infection prevention and control (IPC) compliance, boosting their capacity for swabbing, data entry and epidemiological reporting of cases. In addition, risk communication officers have been deployed to support COVID-19 safety awareness and communication activities.
The MHMS has also prepared for dispatch tomorrow additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face masks, gowns, face shields, gumboots, sanitizers, and other IPC supplies to support the activities in the Province.
Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil explained that the rapid surge in cases in the province is concerning thus the swift deployment of the group to support the provincial response.
“We have also received a report this morning that a death in Lata may possibly be related to COVID-19, so while investigation is underway to confirm this, I am kindly requesting our good people at Temotu Province to observe all COVID-19 preventative measures and get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19, which can cause severe disease”, said Mrs. McNeil.
Mrs. McNeil thanked the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office for the financial support rendered towards the swift deployment and ongoing work to strengthen the health response.
Additional to the financial support, the WHO has deployed one Epidemiologist to support the response team on the ground.
WHO Representative to the Solomon Islands, Dr Howard Sobel said that WHO is committed to supporting the outbreak response and ensure the health system in Temotu is not overwhelmed.
“While Temotu is the last province to experience an outbreak of COVID-19, other provinces should use this as a wakeup call to enhance surveillance and take the necessary measures to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine continues to provide good protection against severe disease and those who have not had the full doses should strongly consider getting vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones”, said Dr Sobel.