THIRTY-ONE swabs collected in the contact tracing to the latest covid-19 scare in Malaita have all returned negative, according to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
At the same time, it was revealed that the ministry’s contact tracing team is still trying to establish close contact(s) of the student whose case triggered the activation of the National Emergency Operation last week.
The 31 samples were taken from the student’s village where he spent his time after he was released by authorities in Honiara following his release from quarantine after the initial testing. The student, who remains unnamed, was re-tested and returned a positive.
Subsequent tests returned a negative.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Service Pauline McNeil confirmed the negative results of the villagers in last Sunday’s radio talkback show.
“The result of the 31 samples of those who came in close contact with the student who is said to be reactivated with COVID-19 are brought into the Molecular laboratory at the National Referral Hospital and are all returned negative on the GeneXpert machine for the initial testing as well as the repeat testing,” Mrs. McNeil said.
Repeat swabs of the 31 individuals will be taken again after 14 days as a precaution, she said.
Mrs. McNeil said the negative results were confirmed by both the GeneXpert and the qPCR machines and “this had given us a good level of confidence and assurance.”
She said as of Monday the health team was expanding its contact tracing of the 31 people in Malaita province.
In Honiara, the contact tracing team is working very hard to find the student’s close contacts without success so far, Mrs. McNeil said.
“This, she said, is due to the patient’s failure to come forward in revealing his contacts. However, the team’s work is on-going.”
“People have to come up front to tell honestly and truthfully who is the close contact of the reactivation case.
“At this point, I want to acknowledge the support of the community, the parents, relatives, and friends of the case for your cooperation, understanding, and support in assisting our health team in their work,” Mrs. McNeil said.
WHO’s Yogesh Choudri in the Solomon Islands said the reason the person in the recent case was unable to pass on the infection to others was because of the low virus presence in the body.
Dr. Choudri said that the team would be doing more monitoring of the population in Malaita to get more samples of the close contacts just to make sure there is no community spread of the Covid-19.
“I would encourage the people who may have the wish to come forward to our health team for swabbing to protect each of our families and communities from the infection,” he said.
Dr. Choudri said the purpose for finding contacts was not “to blame or stigmatize anyone.”
“Our purpose is very clear, we want to protect you, and we want to protect your families and to protect the communities and the country,” he said.
By FOLLET JOHN