MHMS condemns speculation on social media
BY ALFRED PAGEPITU
THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has rubbished speculation on social media that the coronavirus has reached Solomon Islands that Ministry has done nothing over the monitoring at the Honiara international airport.
Medical authority is on full alert, monitoring procedures have been ratcheted up at air and sea ports and all other points of entry, and health officials are on hand to check all inbound passengers for signs of illness
Health officials expressed to Island Sun yesterday that speculation on social media that the coronavirus has reached Solomon Islands was “fake news”.
They said information on any confirmed cases would be made known by the Ministry of Health and responsible people to the people.
“We are working with officials at the airports and ports and screening everyone coming into the country,” they said.
“So if we have any confirmed case, we will advise through the mainstream media or inform the public the virus is reaching our shore, but at the moment Solomon Island is still safe.
“Please do not believe everything you read (on social media),” one officer said.
“We already have a team in communication with all hospitals and clinics throughout the nation.
“Any information on confirmed cases will be released through health authority,” he said.
In a statement released yesterday, MHMS permanent secretary, Pauline McNeil said that considering a number of nearby countries had already recorded suspected cases, the likelihood of Coronavirus appearing in the Solomon Islands could not be ruled out.
Ms McNeil advised the ministry has already formed a technical working group including experts from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“Essential medical supplies to handle cases of 2019-nCoV are also being mobilised and development partners are standing by with additional resources should these be needed,” she said.
“We want to reassure everyone – both local people and travellers heading to the Solomon Islands – that we are preparing for that possibility,” Ms McNeil said.
“As a ‘first line’ of defence MHMS is working with immigration and customs officials at ports and airports, training them on how to recognise cases of 2019-nCoV.
“Incoming visitors will be provided with guidance on what to do if they think they have the infection.”
In the meantime, she said everyone should remain alert for signs or symptoms of the disease especially if they had visited Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in the past 15 days or had come in close contact with anyone returning from affected countries showing similar symptoms.