With rumors circulating social media today that 3 COVID-19 positive persons, also boarded the Fiji-Solomon Islands repatriation flight today (October 28th 2021), The Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that these rumours are not true.
COVID-19 tests were performed on all passengers listed to travel on the flight today, results for all returned negative except for three persons. 2 confirmed positive and 1 inconclusive.
Two of the positive cases were children of the same family and were not vaccinated as they are below 18 years of age. As such the two children together with their family were denied boarding the flight today.
The third case with inconclusive result is a student. Inconclusive results are neither positive nor negative and usually in such cases, COVID-19 retesting is done. Nevertheless, with the current precautionary measures in place, all inconclusive test results are treated as positive therefore coupled with time constraint in relation to flight scheduled both student and his roommates whom he was in close contact with were also denied boarding of the flight.
Therefore, from the 132 passengers who boarded the flight, none of the them tested positive for COVID-19 as opposed to the rumors. 107 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with the remaining 25 passengers under the age of 18 years thus not yet eligible for vaccination. Nevertheless, all have generated negative test results for COVID-19 which is a key criterion for all incoming travelers and have been practicing COVID-19 key preventative measures days before boarding.
As per the policy of Solomon Islands, no one who is tested positive for COVID can board the flight to Solomon Islands. The Ministry maintains enforcing strict repatriation protocol, procedures and standards and therefore any person not adhering or having breached the regulations or did not meet the criteria of the repatriation protocol will not be allowed to board the flights.
As part of pre-arrival assessments, every person repatriated had to undergo COVID-19 test within 72 hours of intended arrival in Solomon Islands. All the people proposed to board this flight were tested for COVID-19 on October 26, 2021.
It has been a long wait for our Nationals from Fiji to return. Flights from Fiji has been delayed since the Delta variant hit Fiji and our country has then work tirelessly, ensuring safety of our nationals are of the highest concern.
Furthermore, as per the regulation, all eligible individual travelling passengers have provided full evidence of completed COVID 19 vaccination before travelling to the country. However, despite fully vaccination status all travelling passengers will have to follow the mandatory quarantine and testing regime in place in the country. The Ministry of Health is also aware of the unvaccinated population below 18 years old who are on this flight, but there are already existing mechanism to address such situation. The period of quarantine will be determined based on risk assessment which is an ongoing process and will differ for those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
With this, the Ministry of Health would like to once again re-iterate our plans to open the borders. The risk of importation of COVID-19 is always there, so please get vaccinated to protect yourself, your community, and the Country.