Student from PH is Solomon Islands’ first COVID-19 case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — A student who just returned to Solomon Islands from the Philippines ended the Oceania country’s coronavirus-free status.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced the country’s first COVID-19 case on Saturday, “a student that came on a repatriation flight from the Philippines.”

"This student was quarantined in Manila before he boarded the flight to come back home. He tested negative for the three tests that we’ve done in Manila which was a compulsory requirement,” Sogavare said in an online briefing.

He said contact-tracing is ongoing, and all the frontline staff who came in contact with the infected student will be quarantined and tested. He said officials are also working on informing authorities in the Philippines so all the necessary precautions can be taken.

While the Solomon Islands government is aware of the risks of repatriating students stuck in other countries amid the pandemic, “bringing them home was the humane thing to do,” Sogavare said. He, however, announced that repatriation flights are temporarily suspended for assessment and review.

The prime minister expressed confidence the government can contain the coronavirus, which has infected more than 34 million people worldwide since it was discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

“The preparedness and response measures taken by the government over the past eight months have now been activated and are now in full operation," Sogavare said.

While Solomon Islands had prevented the entry of the coronavirus disease in the country, the Philippines has recorded more than 319,000 infections, with 5,678 deaths. The Philippines is among the top 20 countries with the most COVID-19 cases, but local officials say the number of currently ill patients are only around 58,000 as over 255,000 patients have already recovered from the viral disease.