Three crew members of another foreign commercial vessel, MV Run Fu 6, that arrived over the weekend have tested positive for COVID-19. The Minister of Health and Medical Services, Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana, confirmed the news during his national address yesterday.

The vessel is currently at port in Honiara after a voyage of 13 days, 17 hours originating from port Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu province, China.

Dr Togamana assured the public that all frontliners who boarded the vessels for swabbing were in their personal protective equipment (PPE) and also fully vaccinated.

“With the test results, the vessel was immediately put under quarantine with no unauthorized persons to board,” Dr Togamana said.

“Further testing is being conducted for these crews and depending on the results, the next course of action will be determined.”

He says relevant authorities are are now focused on ensuring that protocols dealing with foreign vessels are sharpened to ensure we do not allow COVDI-19 infections to enter the country through our ports.

Dr Togamana says that this would be the fourth foreign vessel to have had crew members testing positive for COVID-19 while the vessel was in port and before it was cleared.

“As a result of the increasing incidence of finding COVID-19 positive crew members on foreign vessels, the Oversight Committee’s Vessel exemption committee will be tightening up requirements for foreign vessels to adhere to when travelling to Solomon Islands,” Dr Togamana said.

While he acknowledges that entry of cargo flights and foreign commercial vessels to our ports poses serious risk and concern of COVID-19 entry, it is important not to isolate the country from the rest of the world.

“With efforts to keep the economy afloat at this difficult time, our engagements in international trade needs to continue.”