Solomon Islands records first Covid-19 case, a student returning from Philippines

SYDNEY - Solomon Islands recorded its first Covid-19 case, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced on Saturday (Oct 3).

The patient is a male student returning from the Philippines earlier this week, Xinhua News Agency reported.

He had passed three earlier tests before departure in the Philippines but was tested positive upon arrival.

The student, who was asymptomatic, was placed in isolation with two other close contacts. Front-line workers were also being tested, Radio New Zealand reported.

The new case has effectively activated the preparedness and response measures that the government has been planning over the past eight months, Prime Minister Sogavare said.

"The planning, preparation, simulation and exercises have not been in vain and the government is confident of its capacity to respond, contain and manage the situation to ensure that the safety and well-being of the public is maintained," he said.

However, he said there would not be a national lockdown for now.

The student was among over 400 Solomon Islands nationals stranded in the Philippines after borders were closed.

The Solomon Islands government has scheduled three repatriation flights to bring those people home, the last of which would be carried out at the end of the month as planned.

"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.

"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," he said.

Before this, 18 Solomons students had tested positive for the coronavirus before boarding their flights in the Philippines.

The Philippines' health ministry on Saturday reported 2,674 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily increase in five days, and 62 additional deaths, according to Reuters.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases in the Philippines have increased to 319,330, the highest in South-east Asia, while deaths have reached 5,678, a third of which were recorded in the past 30 days.

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