The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has called for all unauthorized crossings at the western border to stop, as such crossings could lead to the entry of COVID-19 as it could go undetected and unmanaged, leading to a worse case scenario - community transmission.

"It only takes one undetected entry of a COVID-19 infected person to spark a community transmission that can lead to people lining up the health facilities, nurse aid posts, area health centres, clinics and hospitals due to COVID-19 diseases and result in deaths.

"This would also mean, health and medical workers operating under immense pressure with influx of sick people, quarantine stations full to the point where home quarantined may be suggested such that people who feel sick will be advised to remain at home. This, if not properly managed at home, will again lead to further spread. Lockdowns will be enforced, further affecting the health and livelihood of people," a press statement reads.

The MHMS says that experiences from other countries such as Fiji is an important lesson, that even with its relatively advanced and sophisticated health systems they are still finding it hard to cope.

"COVID-19 must not be underestimated or given any complacency as once it finds its way into our borders it will not be selective, nor complacent, it will be ruthless, spread like wildfire causing people to fall severely sick, hospitalized and to die.

"This is the reality we must all accept and start ensuring that our borders are kept safe from any persons entering even if person coming in is our father, mother or family member, relative and friend," the MHMS says.

"MHMS is reiterating this message due to the continuous attempts and actual crossings at the Western Border with the most recent incident over the weekend involving 7 people who were Solomon Island’s nationals from Bougainville who travelled to Solomon Islands illegally, without any authorization."

The Ministry say all 7 were apprehended by the police and are currently being held at the Nila quarantine station where swabs were collected and COVID-19 testing performed.

COVID test results for 6 returned negative while 7th person will need to be re-swabbed as the sample collected from the person was spoiled. All will be quarantined for 21 days at the Nila quarantine station with additional COVID-19 testing as per testing protocols in place for all incoming travellers.

MHMS again reminds everyone at the border that nothing is more important than the health and lives of our people, which is currently at great risk of COVID-19.

"Thank you to all community members, families who have assisted the authorities with detecting and informing us about these people for appropriate actions. If you see any illegal border entry, please inform us or the police and do not interact with them.

"We are also working with other partners of the SIG to bring SI citizens in Bougainville to Solomon Islands. Let’s continue to work together to protect our people and country against COVID-19."

Source: MHMS Media