Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare today (Sunday 13th September) has assured the nation and parents of the six students tested positive for covid-19 in the Philippines that the Government is working closely with authorities in the Philippines to take care of their welfare during this difficult time.
The six out of a total of 130 students who were tested for covid-19 on Friday 11 September were positive and are currently being quarantined at their respective homes in the Philippines while authorities there are conducting contact tracing for those they have come into contact with.
These students have been informed of their results by the Philippine Red Cross in accordance with the Laws of Philippines.
The Philippines has been classified as an extremely high-risk country for Covid-19. This means, each student must have 3 consecutive negative Covid-19 tests in the 14 days before the flight date before they can board their flight home.
The Solomon Islands have a total of 373 students and 12 off-springs below 2 years old in the Philippines – a total of 385 people altogether.
The government has been extremely fortunate that the Philippines Red Cross had agreed to coordinate and do all the tests on our students.
Following the release of results from the Philippines, the Oversight Committee convened an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon and late into the night to discuss the implications and actions to respond to this new development.
On Saturday night, a subgroup of the Oversight Committee comprising the Ministry of Health and Medical Service and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources managed to establish contact with the six students. This was an important undertaking before the Committee can speak with their parents.
Based on Philippines’ Laws, all 130 students have been informed of their first test results. The Philippines’ Law now requires that all students who test positive, and their contacts to be quarantined at home, unless they are sick from the virus in which case they are admitted to hospitals.
The Philippines’ Department of Health will undertake contact tracing for the 6 students with positive tests and contacts.
Prime Minister Sogavare has confirmed that the 6 students are asymptomatic which means they are not sick with the virus infection at this stage.
“We have spoken with some parents. We will continue our efforts to contact and speak with the other parents. Some students have already informed their parents,” Sogavare said when announcing this latest development.
“It is important for the parents to know that their son or daughter are currently not showing signs of being sick with the infection, and that they are being cared for,” Sogavare added.
The Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Service is working closely with the Philippines Red Cross to establish a formal arrangement that extends to and includes the care of our students for which the government will meet the costs in the first instance.
While the Government is faced with this latest development, it also has a responsibility to protect our country and people from this Covid-19.
“This simply means only students that meet our ‘3-negative tests requirement’ will board our repatriation flights. While this does not give a 100% guarantee we will not import Covid-19, it guarantees we minimize the risk of importation of Covid-19 into the count,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.
The Government is confident that even those who have tested positive will recover to travel home on the 3rd flight scheduled for 24th October.
“Fellow Solomon Islanders be assured that your government is committed to bringing all our students home safely. We are also committed to ensure we do not unduly import the virus into the country,” Sogavare said.