The cap set in place by the Ministry of Health (MOH) since the resumption of repatriation flights last month, to limit the number of people in quarantine to only 120 at a time, has been breached.

The cap was given to meet SHEFA Health’s capacity of managing individuals in quarantine effectively, given that it is already resource stress dealing with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and ensuring normal service delivery.

Recently, the limit was exceeded due to additional flights that were not made known to responsible authorities until the last minute, said Director of the Department of Public Health, Len Tarivonda.

“In my opinion, this is a breach of policy and protocol put in place. We (the National COVID-19 Task Force and National Health Emergency Advisory Committee) were not aware of the additional flights until the very last minute,” the Director said.

“Approvals were given at the highest level by other sectors of performance thus, all we need to do was manage the situation.

“The number of people in quarantine went up to over 170 with the additional flights, which is beyond the limit.

“This is unfair to the MOH and those trying to manage repatriation and quarantine effectively, to prevent the importation of coronavirus.

“The Government, diplomatic missions and everyone else should respect the 60 passenger per flight limit and 120 quarantine cap. We can bring in the dangerous Delta variant if we are not careful.”

Director Tarivonda said the number of people in quarantine has now decreased as some have been released.

He said the next repatriation flight is expected on October 28, once the next group of people in quarantine are released.

“Of the nine approved hotels which we normally use, the MOH recommends the number be limited to a maximum of three,” he conveyed.

“We have not yet recommended the names but the ones being used are Ramada, Iririki and possibly Holiday Inn.

“The National Health Advisory Emergency Committee has advised that flights will be accepted from October 28, from Australia and New Zealand, to bring seasonal workers home.”

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