The Ministry of Health and Medical services are tight lipped over a possible COVID-19 outbreak in the capital, Honiara.

Early this week the Ministry released a statement urging the public to practice COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing and the use of face masks. Nineteen cases were recorded at the time, some of those that tested positive have no recent travel history into or out of Honiara.

Since then there has not been any further updates from the Ministry, and no one is willing to come out publically.

“We no longer have testing sites so we cannot say for certain how many cases we have,” stated one official from the Ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“So what we have recorded so far are those that presented themselves to the national referral hospital and are swabbed.”

She would not confirm reports that there are at least 30 new additional cases recorded.

“We have not been updated on the latest numbers, but it is possible,” she said.

“So even if there is an outbreak what I understand is we do not have any way to go on lockdown, or any other legal measures to control the spread of COVID-19 because the state of emergency powers has been lifted.”

The Health Ministry has confirmed that the omicron sub variant of COVID-19, BA.5, is responsible for the current outbreak. It's the most easily spread strain to date and is able to evade immunity from COVID infection and vaccination.

That means even if you were infected with delta or omicron BA.1, you can still get BA.5. Your previous immunity does not protect you from the latest strain.

Since the re-opening of borders on July 1 and the subsequent expiry of the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) on July 24, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) stepped up its surveillance and database, which, prior to this outbreak, only indicated isolated cases of COVID-19.