Solomon Islands remains COVID-19 FREE as of 19th April 2020 after the two last samples sent to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) in Melbourne, Australia returned as NEGATIVE results.
This confirms that of all the 13 samples collected through the COVID-19 Triage at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) have all tested NEGATIVE for COVID-19.
The country has received the COVID-19 testing equipment donated by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for in country testing. The equipment was airlifted into Solomon Islands from Brisbane, Australia.
Given that neighbouring Papua New Guinea (PNG) now has 8 Confirmed Cases of COVID-19, it is a major concern to the Solomon Islands. Recognising the traditional connections and relationships on the Solomon Islands Papua New Guinea Border, particularly in family ties and trade, the border is regarded as a potential high-risk area of possible COVID-19 importation into the country. Thus, the Solomon Islands have taken no chances by stepping border security and surveillance as a preventative measure along the border in ensuring the lives, safety and security of communities living on the border, and broader Solomon Islands is protected.
Additionally, Solomon Islands nationals living in PNG, Fiji and other countries are in communication with the Government for assistance. The requests are currently being discussed and appropriate support is being facilitated through the appropriate Government Agencies and the N-DOC Sector Committees.
The Government remains committed to implementing strict measures to prevent the importation and potential spread of COVID-19 within its borders to protect its people. All overseas passenger flights are currently on hold while essential cargo flights are done on need basis’s to support COVID-19 operations. Seaports Honiara and Noro continue to operate with strict measures in place at the Points of Entry.
The declaration of State of Public Emergency on 25th March 2020 still exists and was further extended on 8th March, 2020 for an additional four months commencing on the same date the declaration was proclaimed by His Excellency, the Governor General. Measures put in place to limit mass gatherings include closure of schools mainly in Honiara City and Guadalcanal Province, temporary halt on recreational activities, scaling down of nonessential public government services and repatriation of city dwellers to home provinces still being enforced.
Restriction of movements for small crafts along the Solomon-PNG border and night curfews in Honiara are part of the stringed measures.
On-going issues are the N-DOC Sector Committees planning and implementation of their operational arrangements based on the Preparedness and Response Plan that is informed by SIG’s COVID-19 graded response structure for case scenarios. The case scenarios specify actions to be taken for zero up to 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19. N-DOC Sector Committees consist of Health, Camp Management (for managing of Quarantine Sites), Infrastructure, Livelihood, Protection and Education. Similar planning process is now extended to cover Honiara City as well as Guadalcanal, Central, Choiseul and Western Provinces. Guadalcanal Province shares common land boundary with Honiara city with both having many interdependencies of basic services and commercial activities. Provincial planning process on COVID-19 Preparedness and Response also aims to address these issues.
SOLOMON ISLANDS GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
– Oversight Committee established by Cabinet to provide strategic direction on a whole-of-government planning and response to COVID-19 continues to meet on a regular basis to discuss relevant measures.
– Government through the Office of the Prime Minister continues to conduct talk back shows aired on radio, TV and online media outlets. This is to update the country on the current Government responses to the COVID-19.
– The State of Public Emergency declared on the 25th March 2020 has extended to another four months as of Wednesday 08th April 2020. The four months extension commenced on 25th March 2020.
– N-DOC Sector Committees are stepping up in their COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans (PRP) with the focus on broader socio-economic impacts at both the national and provincial levels.
– Budget ($137.3 million) for implementation of the Preparedness and Response Plan has been allocated to the respective lead ministries of N-DOC Committees (MAL, MEHRD, MHMS, MWYCFA, MID, MPNSCS & MECDM).
– N-DOC Health Sector Committee is leading the health aspect of COVID-19 with broader coordination through the N-DOC.
– N-DOC Camp Management Sector Committee continues to manage all Institutional Quarantine Sites (IQFs). Currently all the IQFs are empty and close, however, in a state of operational readiness should there be need for quarantining.
– National Emergency Response Team (NERT) support to the Guadalcanal Province EOC and Camp Management EOC remains.
– NERT assigned with Camp Management have been deployed with the Sector Committee to Western and Choiseul Provinces on Monday 27 nd April to conduct training on running a Quarantine Facility.
– Two-day dialogue was held on the 22-23rd April 2020 between Provincial Premiers and national government officials in Honiara to update all premiers on the measures currently undertaken to manage risks associated with COVID-19. Presentations were made on the following:
- SOE Declaration and delineation of Honiara and Western Province as emergency zones as well as implications on Provincial Governments’ roles/responsibilities
- Economic stimulus package and proposed modalities for implementation
- The National Disaster Management Plan 2018 and its application in COVID-19 including the compounding impacts of TC Harold
- Health, Education, Livelihood and Security perspectives of COVID-19.
– Consultation meeting with Provincial Disaster Committee (PDC) with the team by the National Security Department conducted on the 15th April in Gizo regarding the security assessment in Shortland Islands, and the Solomon Islands maritime border with PNG.
– RSIPF step-up boarder security as part of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 that restricts movement of small crafts on the Solomon Islands-PNG border.
– Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) commenced delivery of medical supplies to the Provinces (18 pallets shipped to provinces, 7 pallets ready for delivery this week, whilst 3 pallets are still being prepared). Pallets content consists of normal medical supplies of drugs and consumables).
– Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development confirm resumption of classes to begin on 27th April 2020 for Forms 3, 5 & 6 in non-emergency zones.
– Oversight Committee continued with the weekly Sunday Radio Talk Back Show based on the messaging strategy of ‘UMI TOGETA AGAINST COVID 19’ on 26th April. The key issues addressed include the outcomes of dialogue with Provincial Premiers and Honiara City Mayor, Provincial Health Readiness, process towards restarting of schools, PMs main points in his address on 24th April 2020, clarification on logging and bauxite ships (strengthening through up-coming amendment to COVID-19 regulations and a new order on foreign vessels) and responses to questions.
Note: This piece/report was extracted from the Solomon Islands Government Consolidated Situational Report Number 06 produced by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for the COVID-19 Response released this morning (Tuesday 28 April 2020).