The planned repatriation flight to Manila tomorrow has been postponed in the eleventh hour after six students were tested positive for COVID-19 of the 143 passengers book to fly home.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his address this afternoon revealed the last minute change much to the frustration of the students in the Philippines.
He said: “I am deeply sorry to inform you all that the repatriation flight from Manila that was scheduled to arrive tomorrow, Tuesday 24 November 2020, has been cancelled to a later date.
“The reason for the cancellation is that we have just received the test results of all 143 passengers a short while ago, and 6 of the students returned positive tests for Covid-19. This is extremely unfortunate as this flight had been planned for a long time. We commenced our 21-days pre-departure tests 3 weeks ago on those that were scheduled to travel on this flight,” he said.
Sogavare said obviously, the students had broken quarantine in Manila.
“They could not have contracted Covid-19 in the hotel. They would have gone out of the hotel. They have now put all the students living in the same hotel at risk. Given this new development, and the likelihood that many of the other students scheduled for this flight would have been exposed to the 6 positive students, the Oversight Committee had recommended that the flight be postponed to another date. Our health team is currently undertaking contact tracing. As soon as we have a clearer picture of the situation, we will reschedule the flight,” he said.
“I ask all the students remaining in Manila at huge cost to the country, please, do not do things that will put other students and our country at risk. We will establish if the 6 students had broken quarantine. The consequence of the 6 positive cases is the cancellation of tomorrow’s flight,” he said.
The first COVID-19 cases for the country were recorded from the returning students from the Philippines in the first flight on 29 September 2020.