Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Solomon Islands greets first Covid-19 case, leaves dwindling virus-free club

The number of countries with zero cases is now down to single digits.

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The Solomon Islands has announced its first ever case of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the Pacific island nation that a student who recently returned from the Philippines on a repatriation flight has the infection.

The student, who was asymptomatic, tested negative three times in the Philippines before boarding the flight carrying 96 passengers.

He was found positive in a test on return to the capital Honiara and is now in isolation with two other immediate contacts.

“It pains me to say that we have lost our Covid-19-free status despite our collective effort to prevent the pandemic from entering our country,” Sogavare said on Saturday.

He urged the population of 600,000 to remain calm and said contact tracing and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus had been activated and there was no need for a lockdown.

Since the nation’s borders were closed in March, more than 400 islander students have been stuck in the Philippines, which has been particularly hard hit by the virus.

The repatriation flights were organised in response to pleas from the students’ families.

“My government is well aware of the risks involved in repatriating our students from the Philippines. We are also aware that keeping our children in the Philippines exposes them to even higher risks,” Sogavare said.

“As a responsible government, we cannot close our eyes to the plight of our children and bringing them home was the humane thing to do.”

There are now just nine remote countries left that have not reported a single case.

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