COVID FEARS GROW IN SIKAIANA AS HOME-MADE MEASURES ESTABLISHED

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Leaders and people of Sikaiana Island are considering imposing restrictions on people traveling from Honiara to the Island following the recorded positive covid-19 cases in Honiara.

The announcement of the imported positive cases early this month has caused fear amongst the atoll inhabitants that are rarely visited by authorities to help in developing their preparedness and response plans against the virus.

Although not considered a high-risk border atoll, Sikaiana shares the Solomon Islands international maritime border with Nauru and is prone to unmonitored international visitors traveling on yachts.

The Island’s remoteness and lack of communication facilities and police presence to look after the border is a concern to leaders and people of the island of around 300 inhabitants in view of the spread of covid-19.

The one and only covid-19 awareness programme on the island was conducted when a team from the Malaita Provincial Government briefly visited the island in September.

Regardless of the inadequate visits, Chiefs and Community leaders have established their own homegrown preparedness and response plans to prevent the entry of the virus, one of which is asking Government authorities to screen and ensure travelers to the island are covid-free.

The other measure is the allocation of one of its small islands as a quarantine center for incoming travelers who must remain on the island for a period of 14 days before entering the main island.

Travelers with symptoms of covid-19 will be turned back to Honiara since the island do not have PPEs to protect its single doctor and few health workers in an event of an outbreak.

Chiefs are asking the National and Malaita Provincial Health authorities to provide PPEs to the Island to boost their preparedness and response plan in case of an outbreak throughout the country.

A government team visiting the island on a climate change assignment last week was almost canceled due to fears they might import the virus to the island. The visit was only allowed after assurance from Honiara authorities that officials in the team were all healthy.

A Sikaiana Community spokesperson, Chris Tewila asked Government authorities not to forget them in the fight against the virus by making regular awareness visits to the island.

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