Minister of Health and Medical Service Dr. Culwick Togamana tonight announced a new surge of COVID-19 fearing it could be the beginning of the second wave and a new variant.
Speaking in his special address tonight, Togamana said in the last 72 hours until today, his ministry has recorded a total of 93 new cases only for Honiara.
“The increase of these figures within the 72-hour window are a cause for great concern,” the minister stated.
On Wednesday, 13th April they detected 27 cases, on Thursday, 14th April, 18 cases and on Friday, 15th April 48 cases, totalling up to the 93 cases.
Out of these 93 cases, 84 cases are from Honiara itself, which includes 36 cases from Lord Howe Settlement and 48 cases from other parts of Honiara. Nine cases from the total of 93 cases are from the Provinces.
“In the last 2 days our focus was to detect as many cases in Lord Howe Settlement so we have more number from there. We are doing collection of specimens from Alligator Creek today and will do active surveillance in other parts of Honiara and we will see more number of cases,” Togamana said.
“In the past 3 weeks, we have reported on an average 4-5 cases of COVID-19 in Honiara and this sudden jump in the number of cases is a cause of major concerns and we are treating the current surge as a second wave of COVID infections.
“Given the rate at which new cases have grown over the last three days in Honiara, there is every possibility that if we do not act urgently and if we do not act together, the second wave will have major impact on the life of people and our health system. For the first time in this pandemic, 10 of the new infections that have occurred in the last 72 hours are young children, who are both in the age group of less than 18 years old,” said the minister.
There are probably many reasons for this new increase in infections, but some key contributors are now becoming clearer.
Togamana added that five of the new cases have a documented history of having COVID positive test result in near past (Jan-Feb). “Re-infection are possible but rare and this high rate of new infections in previously positive points towards likelihood of new variant of COVID-19. We will send the samples for determination of variant to Australia on first possible flight and will have updated information on the variant circulating in Honiara. With virus continuing to circulate in Honiara, emergence of a new variant in Honiara, albeit low likelihood is a possibility. This is one of the reasons that we stop the transmission in Honiara urgently and soon,” he said.