HON PRIME MINISTER MANASSEH SOGAVARE, MP
-15. 05. 2020-
Fellow citizens, a very good afternoon once again to each and every one of you.
As your Prime Minister it is my solemn duty to stand before you here today to deliver my nationwide address to update you all, my beloved citizens, on what your Government is doing in our united fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
My good people, updating you all is a duty and obligation that I will continue to undertake during these trying times.
But most importantly, I am humbled and grateful for the continuous support by citizens of our beloved nation. I also wish to extend the gratitude of this nation to our Churches, bilateral and multilateral partners, the private sector and all our stakeholders that have stood by us until today. Please accept our deepest and sincere thanks.
It is because of your united and collective efforts that we continue to remain COVID-19 free.
And it is my wish and my Government’s desire to remain a COVID-19 free nation until this battle is over.
This is our battle to fight together, and fight it together we shall.
Fellow citizens, I am happy to announce that we now have limited testing capacity.
The GeneXpert testing equipment at the National Referral Hospital has already been trialed and as of Thursday this week, it is now ready to be used.
Furthermore, our two-qPCR machines have also been installed and trainings on how to use these state of the art equipment’s have also commenced.
That said, our molecular laboratory at the NRH is also up and running.
My good people, we have progressed in advancing our in country testing capabilities with the help of our development partners and for that we must continue to thank them.
Moreover, our two quarantine facilities at the Henderson International Airport is also on standby and will be used as fever clinics not only for this current pandemic but also for any fever related cases in future.
Fellow citizens, the Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has continued to beef up COVID-19 operations and our progress remains optimistic at this time of uncertainty.
Our first 9 member SOLMAT team that have been deployed to the western border a fortnight ago have arrived back in Honiara on Wednesday this week and another group is being prepared to replace them.
As part of our preparedness plans, the Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services have also launched a teleconferencing facility in the Shortland islands. This system is important to help us to communicate and connect efficiently with our people at the border. This facility will also be built in other provinces around the country.
The Government is also undertaking a national approach in carrying out our COVID-19 awareness programs around all our provincial centers and communities.
Fellow citizens, as a measure of our preparedness Cabinet has approved a 36 hour lockdown to be imposed next week which the COVID-19 Oversight Committee is currently working to finalize details over this coming weekend for public information and awareness.
The proposed Lockdown is a standard procedure to test our capability in our preparations for any possible COVID-19 positive case.
Experts around the world have also been calling on countries affected by COVID-19 to continue to be vigilant and to be prepared for a second wave of infections. The Lockdown is also the Government’s strategy to maintain this heightened alertness with regards to the global warnings of a perceived second wave of infection.
I would like to reiterate my previous call to all our good citizens of Honiara to take heed of the intentions of Government for a Lockdown and to follow the protocols of lockdown.
The Lockdown is a requirement of preparedness to ensure the capability and effectiveness of all frontline agencies that is for the good of our people and I would like to call on our people to respect the lockdown measures. This proposed Lockdown will only be for Honiara emergency zone from Poha River to Alligator Creek.
Fellow citizens, especially those living in the emergency zone from Poha River to Alligator Creek please listen out for further details in the coming days.
International borders remain closed
My good people, given the ongoing concern at our borders, our international borders remain closed.
Our front liners at the border remain alert with high visibility and surveillance.
To date, there have been no major incidents so far except for a few local fishermen from the other side who have been sent away after they were spotted fishing in our waters.
Our border deployment rotation will continue until a time we see fit that we should reopen our border.
Therefore, I must continue to acknowledge our front liners at the border for their service to our people and nation.
That said, our international flights also remain closed until further notice.
Work on the repatriation flights to bring back our citizens will be confirmed next week with an official Advisory to be circulated anytime from now.
My good people, I must reiterate that our highest priority is ‘prevention’. We must continue to work together to keep the virus at bay.
Stimulus package update
Fellow citizens, just to update all of us on the status of The Economic Stimulus Package.
To date, officials are now working on the implementation framework and delivery model of the stimulus package.
We are anticipating that it should rolled out in the coming weeks.
In terms of cash grants as announced, the process of disbursement has started to SOES and civil society groups.
Small Medium Enterprises and businesses affected by the effects of the economic fallout that are within the emergency zones will also be included in the implementation framework modality.
It must be made clear that there have been a lot of analysis and modelling conducted by officials to ensure that the Stimulus Package meets its objectives.
Consistent with the 2020 Budget Strategy, approximately 65 percent of the total package will be channelled towards the growth sectors for immediate economic recovery.
Therefore, I wish to reiterate that it is critical that the benefits of the package reach the intended beneficiaries and that the desired outcomes of the program are realized.
It is the duty of my Government to ensure that enterprises and businesses that receive support under the package pass on the benefits to households and consumers.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, I’m also pleased to inform you all that all schools throughout the country will resume classes on May 25th.
As you are aware, as of 27th April, schools have resumed classes on a phase-to-phase basis.
Therefore, apart from the schools and levels that were previously announced, exam classes in Forms 3, 5, 6 & 7 in Honiara Schools will resume classes on May 18th 2020, which is Monday next week.
This will also include National Secondary Schools such as Saint Joseph’s Tenaru, King George the Sixth, Selwyn College and Betikama Adventist College.
All Forms 3, 5, 6 & 7 from Shortland’s, Munda, Noro, Gizo and Taro, will also resume classes on 18th May 2020.
All other levels, classes from ECE, Primary Schools, Forms 1, 2,4 within Honiara and Shortland’s, Munda, Noro, Gizo and Taro to resume classes on 25th May 2020. These includes King George Sixth, St Joseph Tenaru, Selwyn and Betikama.
Ladies and Gentlemen, all Rural Training Centres, Post- Secondary Education Institutions including Higher Education Institutions, such as the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and the University of the South Pacific (USP), Solomon Islands Campus will make their own announcement.
This will be done through their senior management teams, on the resumption of face-to-face classes in their respective institutions.
Fellow citizens, it is very important that ALL Education Authorities and School Leaders to take note of the resumption dates of schools/classes and to ensure that students and teachers return to school.
All teachers posted in Boarding Schools are also expected to travel back to their respective schools as soon as possible.
Furthermore, all parents of students studying at boarding schools MUST ensure that they send back their children to their respective schools.
The Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) wish all students and staff in all schools throughout the country God’s blessing.
Fellow citizens, an Order has also been issued to reopen business entities that were temporarily closed under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020.
This means, Pubs, Kava bars and Casinos have now resumed operations except for nightclubs within the Emergency Zone.
The re-opening of these closed business entities was made following thorough assessment of the current COVID-19 situation in the Emergency Zone.
Despite the resumption of the businesses, I encourage these businesses to continue to work closely with the Government and to adhere to the advices and regulations under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020.
A Standard Operating Procedures for these businesses is currently being refined. This will be issued to these businesses to follow.
Our fight is not over
My good people, as you are aware, the Government has made a decision to slowly re-open some businesses and all school.
Whilst we are cautious about the threat of the virus, we are also conscious about our businesses and the employment of our people. We are also equally concerned about the wellbeing and education of our students as well.
Fellow citizens, this does not mean everything is back to normal. That said, we must never let our guard down. We must continue to listen to sound advice from our authorities. We are still in a State of Public Emergency.
In conclusion, I would like to reassure my good people of Solomon Islands that the Government remains on high alert.
At this stage, the behavior and trend of the virus is still unpredictable. The virus behaves differently in various countries and therefore we will continue to monitor the situation globally and most especially our neighboring countries.
My Government is fully aware that the virus knows no borders.
We are very cautious of its impacts and the threat it will have on the health, lives and livelihoods of our people.
The virus is not only a health challenge, but has developed into an economic crisis and a threat to our food security as well.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, I must reiterate that COVID-19 still remains a real threat and is our common enemy.
Therefore, we must continue to remain united and vigilant.
We must continue to seek God’s guidance and protection over our beloved country and our people.
‘YUMI TUGEDA AGAINST COVID-19’.
Tagio tumas and May God Bless our beloved Solomon Islands from Shore to Shore.