A woman in South Santo who had an underlying condition and tested positive for COVID-19, died on Sunday.

South Santo Area Two Council Administrator, Terry Daniel, said the SANMA Rural Health authority confirmed on Sunday that the deceased had tested positive for COVID-19.

“They just confirmed on Sunday that the person had tested positive for COVID-19,” Mr. Daniel said. “By that time, the person had died. I had to put a lockdown on Sarete Village, according to the confirmation from SANMA Health. The village is now on lockdown, while waiting for SANMA Health to carry out contact tracing as of today (Tuesday).”

He said the deceased had an underlying condition and had visited the Northern Provincial Hospital (NPH) for a checkup.

She was also tested for COVID-19 at the hospital, but before the results came back, the hospital released her.

“They released the patient on Wednesday last week,” Daniel explained. “And when her test results came back positive, the SANMA Emergency Operations Center tracked her down and was planning to put her in quarantine, but she passed away on Sunday.

“By that time, she had spent three days at her home in the village.

“The NPH should have kept her at the hospital and waited for her COVID-19 test results. If she tested negative for COVID, they could release her but if she tested positive, they should put her in quarantine. They should not release her prior to her test results.”

He said the villagers were advised not to have any close contact with the deceased’s family members for the time being, as precautionary measures.

“The whole village is now on lockdown, villagers are not allowed to move in and out of the village and surrounding communities are also advised not to go to the village or attend the funeral,” he said.

“The risk is high in the village at the moment because many women had visited the patient after she returned from the hospital.”

Daniel said so far 80 percent of people living in coastal areas in South Santo Area Two have had at least one dose of COVID-19 or are fully vaccinated, and 30 percent of people living inland have had at least their first dose or are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I am really concern about people who are not vaccinated, at the moment they will be the most affected group,” he said.

Daniel calls on every community in South Santo Area Two to follow COVID-19 protocols and respect COVID-19 restrictions.

A former President of the SANMA Provincial Government Council, John Olo Aru, has called on the Ministry of Health and the SANMA Rural Health to investigate the NPH’s handling of the case.

“I call on the Honorable Minister of Health and the Director General for the Ministry of Health, Russell Tamata to please follow up and investigate the careless handling of this case,” Mr. Aru said.

The Daily Post understands the NPH will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.