Contact tracers have identified new potential covid hotspots in some Provinces as the rate of covid transmission continue to soar in the capital Honiara.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced the new hotspots in his special national address today linking the transmission directly to the free movement of people around the city and to the provinces with the virus without knowing it.
The latest potential hotspots included Marovo in the Western Province where a ship has dropped off passengers including a number of positive persons. Some parts of South Malaita where MV Awka recently traveled has also been listed as a potential hotspot, while Auki in Malaita and the GPPOL area in the Guadalcanal Plains are listed as hotspots besides 25 locations in Honiara city.
Health authorities reported that 7 crew members of MV Nusa Tupe, a cargo vessel that departed from Honiara on 15 January have been tested positive for COVID-19. That vessel which dropped of several passengers at Rukutu village in Marovo lagoon on 16 January before proceeding to other western ports has been recalled and is returning to Honiara.
There was a major event at Rukutu village at the time the passengers were dropped off as they were undertaking a Centenary Celebration of the landing of the Church at the village.
Hundreds of people around Marovo lagoon attended this event from as far west as Choiseul Province.
“This event has become a potential super-spreader of COVID-19 in Marovo lagoon and the western province,” Sogavare said.
Authorities are also following a further lead on another vessel that left Honiara over the weekend that may have taken COVID-19 to several western ports.
Health authorities are currently backtracking and checking all villages in South Malaita where MV Awka traveled to before it was recalled because COVID-19 outbreaks could already be happening in these villages.
Authorities are also waiting test results of the crew of MV Fair Chief that went to Malaita, Makira, and Choiseul. If any crew is positive, then they would have also taken COVID-19 to these provinces because four people from MV Awka went on this vessel to Makira.
“We are anticipating new hotspot outbreaks in South Malaita, Marovo and other parts of the western province,” Sogavare warned.
Meanwhile, Sogavare made a special plea to the people of Guadalcanal and Honiara city council areas and Auki in Malaita urging them to get their vaccines sooner.
“We now have widespread community transmission of COVID-9 in Honiara which is already expanding into Guadalcanal province. Please take your lives seriously. Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do not delay any further,” he said.
In his plea to the people of Malaita, Sogavare said COVID-19 is now in Auki and will have already been transported by road to other parts of the Central, Eastern and Northern regions and it is likely already in South Malaita since MV Awka recently traveled there.