The Ministry of Health and Medical Services would like to assure our people at the Malaita Outer Islands (MOI), Malaita Province, that they are not forgotten.
Health is once again mobilizing a team of both medical and public health officers together with essential COVID and non COVID medical supplies for deployment to MOI. Strengthening of surveillance of COVID in MOI and revised guidelines are currently being finalized.
Based on initial discussions with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force this week, a new joint deployment plan is being put in place for a period of three weeks.
The deployment will basically involve, COVID-19 testing and clinical management of COVID-19 patient if required, restock of medical supplies, outpatient and other supplies for routine medical services.
These were supposed to be carried out in the middle of January 2022 when COVID-19 cases were picked up from people in Pelau in MOI but were delayed due to compelling circumstances.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 started to appear in Honiara and Malaita at the same time and due to limited manpower, the focus was shifted to areas where we expected high level of transmission such as Honiara and Auki and surrounding areas.
The reprioritization decisions undertaken at the time was also guided by COVID-19 vaccination coverage with MOI having relatively much higher 2nd dose coverage of 64 percent in January whereas in Honiara only 30% and Malaita 5 % in terms of 2nd dose coverage. This means the impact of COVID-19 would be greater in Honiara and Malaita than MOI as we are seeing now.
Last year MOI was visited on several occasions and our health teams have also provided medical supplies, conducted COVID-19 community awareness with Information, Education and Communication materials and training on how communities can work together to prevent COVID-19 from entering and spreading across their communities.
In many cases of border crossings last year from Tasman to MOI, the communities have done well in working together to prevent possible entry and spread of COVID-19 and together with authorities for necessary actions. However, much needs to be done in terms of community taking ownership to protect themselves and the country.
The movement between SI and PNG is still illegal and more important the threat of COVID-19 is not over yet. We know new strains of COVID virus are emerging such as Omicron and if someone infected with Omicron comes to your communities you will again see increasing number of COVID patients.
Hence, it is important that communities remain vigil and report any illegal movement to authorities and watch out if they see increasing number of cases of respiratory illness or unexplained death. The MHMS has issued guidelines for preventing community spread of COVID and caring of individuals suspected to be COVID and these should be rigorously followed.