After nearly three days at the Point Cruz waterfront a health team has been mobilized and attended to Awka crew members and passengers this afternoon for COVID-19 testing, delivery of food and water supplies in coordination with the shipping company.
Awka, which the Prime Minister had ordered its immediate return to Honiara has been left unattended at Point Cruz Harbour since Wednesday night until this afternoon. And passengers on board had admitted that food was running out so do as water after they were forced to return from the southern region of Malaita.
Awka was at the centre of attention after one of its passengers that arrived on 10 January from the Ontong Java was tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, there is now a community transmission in the capital and now there are positive cases in the Guadalcanal Plains.
A passenger Coleridge Sua confirmed this morning that they were unattended since Wednesday night.
There are about 30 people on board. Awka was on a private charter to the southern region but was forced to abandon the trip following the PM’s address on Wednesday morning—calling on them to return immediately.
In responding, the ministry of health and medical services in a statement to SBMOnline says the National Health Emergency Operation Centre (NHEOC) has made the decision for Awka ship to float outside of Honiara due to the very likely possibility that they are positive for COVID-19. Having them floating on the water instead of docking at the wharf is to prevent any further spread.
“The delay in attending to them is simply due to the fact that priority in the past two to three days is with community transmission in Honiara and therefore contact tracing and testing of potentially COVID-19 positive persons in Honiara that are risking the entire Honiara population,” the statement said.
With regards to food and water, the ministry said, the company is responsible to provide these for their crew and with the current standard operating procedure in place by Ministry of Health and Medical Services for such situations, these items needed to be handed to health for health to deliver to the ship crews.
“Health understand the frustration but also calls for understanding as stated in previous statement that we are stretching ourselves to attend to priorities including numerous testing requests from members of the public of which we are assessing and categorizing for urgent response,” the statement said.