THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services is now ceasing mass gatherings of more than 10 people in Honiara.
Minister of Health and Medical Services Dr Culwick Togamana in his situation update on COVID-19 last night (19th April) said all mass gatherings currently ongoing involving more than 10 people must cease effective Tuesday 19th April.
“All plans for weddings and church gatherings must be done together with our National Health Emergency Operation Centre (NHEOC).
“Once all infection, prevention and control measures are in place and satisfied NHEOC may issue the approval to proceed.
“Otherwise it is critically important that any mass gatherings must stop immediately to allow and enable us to curb and contain the spread of the virus,” Dr Togamana said.
He said organisations including churches that have been granted approval to proceed with their activities in the past weeks are strongly advised to strengthen COVID-19 safe practices at these gatherings.
“Business house and every organisation are also required and advised to implement COVID safe measures at workplace,” the Minister said.
He said the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) will issue an advisory on this shortly because lessons learnt from the outbreak in January has taught them that mass gatherings and travelling could easily spread the virus across the country.
Dr Togamana issued this warning as the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Honiara started increasing since Wednesday 13th April – an indication that the country is now facing the second wave of COVID infections.
Dr Togamana also urged those in the provinces who are planning to travel to Honiara to defer their travel plans to Honiara for now unless it is really necessary for them to take the trip.
He said those in Honiara are also advised to limit or defer their travel plans to the provinces at this stage as they could be the source of spreading the potential second wave of infections to the provinces.
“Nevertheless pre-departure COVID-19 testing for those travelling to the provinces is continuing at Lawson Tama Stadium and for those arriving COVID testing is also being carried out at Point Cruz Wharf and Henderson Airport,” Dr Togamana said.
He had also expressed his disappointment on reports from the provinces of people in Honiara travelling with fake vaccination cards to the provinces.
“There are also those not tested for COVID-19 and yet managed to travel to the provinces undetected. List of names of those to travel to the provinces greatly differs from the names of the people who actually travel on the ships.
“I am indeed saddened to learn of such unacceptable practices and behaviours as such practices put many lives at risk,” Dr Togamana said as he strongly urged the public to start practicing COVID safety measures.