The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has issued a stern warning to communities across the country, particularly those in Makira-Ulawa, Malaita, Isabel, Western, Choiseul and Guadalcanal Province. Stay away from any and all foreign vessels or yachts.
The statement is made in light of an unauthorized and illegal entry of a yacht vessel named VIVRE sighted in Makira, and is now said to be in the Southern parts of Malaita.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) has been working with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and using their vessel monitoring system (VMS), can confirm that the VIVRE yacht has been to high-risk countries in the region including Fiji and Tahiti before its unauthorized entry to Solomon Islands.
“While police and Solomon Islands Maritime Authority investigations into the matter is ongoing, health is gravely concerned that such an entry poses a real serious threat of COVID-19 entry that potentially can spark the worst-case scenario which we have all along struggled to prevent - and so far with success - a community transmission of COVID-19.
“This scenario can only be avoided if no one approaches the vessel, make any physical contact with its passengers and prohibit any of the yacht passengers and crew members to disembark to their communities.
“Health is reaching out to its provincial health counterparts to quickly disseminate this message to communities in their respective provinces and we kindly request any one receiving this to also pass on the messages to their families, relatives, friends in the provinces,” the statement reads.
The Ministry says it is very aware and concerned that locals are approaching these foreign maritime vessels to trade, and are calling on such practise to stop immediately.
“Think about your children, your families, your communities and our country. As reiterated many a times, it only takes one COVID-19 infected person to enter into the country undetected and unmanaged to spark a community transmission,” the Ministry said.
“It is of utmost importance that together as one country and family that we work together with the current situation of VIVRE Yacht roaming around our waters to adhere to these health warnings so that we continue to protect our country as COVID-19 entry and community transmission.
“There is currently in place total suspension of pleasure crafts such as yachts in entering the country and therefore it is our duty to uphold measures that we set in place to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”
Source: With MHMS Media