36-hour ‘Trial lock-down’
The primary reason for implementing this trial lockdown is to test our preparedness to respond to the imminent threat from the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 that is driving the current surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in more than 148 countries world-wide.
The full details of the preparedness and response plan and the lockdown plan will be further deliberated on by Cabinet later this week.
Although the lockdown is a simulation, any breach of its protocols will result in severe consequences.
Against Delta Variant
The country’s current preparedness and response plans, quarantine accommodation planning, and standard operating procedures [SOPs]’ were all prepared for the much less aggressive variants of COVID-19. They are no longer appropriate for the Delta variant.
The Oversight Committee has reviewed the preparedness and response plan, it has assessed and improved the quarantine accommodation facilities, and it has reviewed the respective SOPs to ensure they can all address the Delta variant of COVID-19.
We testing these updated plans and procedures by implementing the trial lockdown so that we can fine-tune any gaps and shortcomings to ensure all our systems, processes, coordination, and operational arrangements are ‘tried and tested’ to respond to any incursion by the Delta variant in Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands has been COVID-19 free for four months.
The country has also completed the follow-up arrangements on the 20 previously positive people. They have been formally discharged and will not require any further follow up.
Currently there are 19 people are in quarantine – four (4) at GBR, 8 at the SA apartment and 7 in Nila, Shortlands.
The first two tests of the people quarantined at the SA apartment and Nila quarantine stations were negative. The first test of people in GBR was also negative.
All 19 people will serve their respective mandatory 21 days quarantine each and will only be released after 4 consecutive negative tests during the 21-day period.
There were no admissions to isolation at the National Referral Hospital.
Health has increased its swabbing team in Honiara to 27 people including 20 newly registered nurses.
The team conducted swabbing for 92 crews of four incoming logging vessels and 25 stevedores for one outgoing logging vessel over the weekend. All logging vessels undergo 21 days of quarantine at sea.
They are required to present at least 1 negative COVID-19 PCR result before departure, and swabbed each crew member of every logging vessel that come into the country twice first on date of arrival and the second on day 21 of the 21-day quarantine period. Both tests must be negative before the vessel is granted inward clearance after which they are allowed to board stevedores.
Foreign logging vessel
It was reported 2 weeks ago, that authorities had diagnosed 3 crew members of a foreign logging vessel with COVID-19. Further tests were conducted over the weekend, and have picked up 1 additional COVID-19 positive case on the vessel bringing the total to 4. This indicates there is some level of ongoing transmission of COVID-19 onboard the vessel.
The vessel is under strict quarantine. No one is allowed to disembark from the vessel, and no one is allowed to board the vessel except for authorized officers that undertake weekly swabbing.
On Friday 13 August, 7 citizens made an illegal entry through the western border from Bougainville.
The 7 people were apprehended and are now under quarantine at the Nila Quarantine Station. They will complete their mandatory 21-day quarantine period at the Nila quarantine station after which their breach of the SOPE regulations will be addressed.
COVID-19 Vaccination National Coverage
As of Friday 20 August, Solomon Islands have administered total of 73,780 doses of COVID-19 vaccines including both Sinopharm and AstraZeneca 1st and 2nd doses.
Over the past 5 weeks, from 17 July to 20 August 2021 we administered a total of 38,118 doses of COVID-19 vaccines compared to 35,662 doses in the 16 weeks between our launch in on 23rd of March to 17th of July this year.
This represents an average of 7,623 vaccination doses administered per week compared to an average of 2,220 doses administered per week in the 16 weeks between March 23 to July 17, 2021.
Provincial Roll out of COVID-19 vaccines
Government have rolled out COVID-19 vaccination in Honiara, Western, Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Malaita, and Central Provinces.
Today, vaccination program was launched in Isabel Province. The roll out in Renbel province will start on August 30.