The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) would like to clarify the Island Sun front page news article yesterday (Wed 23rd March), titled, ‘COVID-19 Breach’, that claimed the Health Minister interfered with health operations at Point Cruz wharf.
Link to article below here;
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services assures that there was no breach of COVID-19 protocol with the arrival and disembarking of passengers from MV Uta Princess II in Honiara, Monday this week. Additionally, the Health Minister did not interfere with health port operations.
All passengers who boarded MV Uta Princess II had tested negative for COVID-19 in Buala prior to boarding the vessel and the vessel headed straight for Honiara without calling into any other ports.
As per standard operating procedure passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 were directed to disembark and moved for quarantine and isolation at Buala followed by decontamination of the vessel before passengers were once again allowed to board. Communication on the list of passengers were communicated from Buala responsible officers to the Port Health team as per clearance processes.
This particular information including the negative test results for all the passengers were communicated to the National Health Emergency Operation Centre (NHEOC) verbally before the ship embarked and on papers, the next day, Tuesday 22nd March.
Therefore, as per its Standard Operating Procedure, NHEOC had approved for all passengers to disembark and proceed to their homes upon arrival in Honiara without the need to swab again. The Health Minister was only waiting at the wharf for personal reasons, after prior consultation with the NHEOC Incident Controller on the status of the vessel.
This decision by NHEOC was communicated to the Minister who then informed the ship captain, to disembark. The Minister had updated information which he relayed to the health team at the port who were awaiting the information to be relayed to them by the NHEOC.