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Small number of cases linked to ship arriving from OJ at end of 2021, majority to Awka

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Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has revealed today that whilst the vast majority of the positive COVID-19 cases are linked to passengers and crews of MV Awka, a small number are linked to an earlier vessel – either MV Carolina or MV Ocean Joy.

Based on information by Sogavare during his statement today, MV Carolina – arrived in Savo Islands on 30 December 2021 and likely proceeded to Honiara whilst MV Ocean Joy arrived in Honiara from Luaniua on 29 December 2021. Both ships were returning from the Otong Java.

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M.V Awka which is at the centre of the story and which the Prime Minister said to have brought the virus from a Papua New Guinean doctor only arrived on January 10th in Honiara from Otong Java.

With the issue still hotly contested by the Opposition on the origin of the virus, Sogavare also took part of his statement to speak on the issue.

He said several commentaries have been made in relation to the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak in Honiara adding that the Ministry of Health is still undertaking an assessment to determine the origins of the outbreak in Honiara.

However, Sogavare said based on current evidence “we confirm that the outbreak in Ontong Java started before the outbreak in Honiara.”

He continues: “We also confirm that all the cases in Honiara have been traced to travellers that came from Ontong Java to Honiara.” Sogavare said they also know from information provided by the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority three other vessels arrived in Honiara from Ontong Java prior the arrival of MV Awka on 10th January 2022. These vessels are:

  • MV Liberty III – which arrived in Honiara from Luaniua on 16 December 2021
  • MV Carolina – that arrived in Savo Islands on 30 December 2021 and likely proceeded to Honiara
  • MV Ocean Joy – that arrived in Honiara from Luaniua on 29 December 2021

“We have also been advised that a fourth vessel, known simply as PWI-2 went directly from Ontong Java to Choiseul province between mid-December 2021 and mid-January 2022,” he said.

Sogavare said: “While we have been able to link the vast majority of the positive COVID-19 cases to passengers and crews of MV Awka, a small number are linked to an earlier vessel – either MV Carolina or MV Ocean Joy.”

Prime Minister in his statement when announcing the first COVID-19 case that started the community transmission stated that the virus was spread by a PNG medical doctor who arrived at Pelau on 9th January,

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