Ministry of health confirms coronavirus entering Solomon Islands imminent, steps up preparedness
BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO
CORONAVIRUS-19 (COVID-19) entering Solomon Islands is not a question of “if” but when “when” says the Ministry of Health.
IN a press conference on Wednesday 4th March, senior officials from stakeholders and government ministries confirmed this fear, however assuring that measures being put in place will help Solomon Islands stand a fighting chance of overcoming this global threat.
Pauline McNeil, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), said in terms of preparing for this, government is working hard to ensure that right preparedness is in place along with the right measures.
“But the messaging from the ministry is, there are certain measures in terms of what you can do at home, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing and sneezing, keep your distance, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and avoid unnecessary overcrowding and also always cook your foods well cooked.
“I’d like to say that preparedness is key for all of us, there would come a time when we need to put in place certain measures and that could include closing down of schools, closing down of churches.
“So, these are the measures the ministry is working hard to ensure that the right measures are taken place at the right time when it is called for,” said Mrs McNeil.
Minister for Health Dickson Mua said there is a high risk of COVID -19 spread at global and regional levels and the impact risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in Solomon Islands is also high.
Mr Mua said with this, his ministry has been working hard to prepare for any potential entry of virus into the country.
“My ministry is also working hard to prepare for the potential entry of the virus into the country,” he said.
Mua adds, COVID-19 has been declared a public health emergency of international concern and has the potential to be declared as a global pandemic if the spread of the virus continues to accelerate.
“As a consequence, we need to be ready in case COVID-19 reaches, Solomon Islands,” he said.
Clezy Rore Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration (MCILI) said strict border controls should and must be maintained to prevent the entry of this virus.
“I must stress the importance of maintaining strict border controls if we are to prevent the entry of the Coronavirus into our country.
“Whilst the measures that have been introduced may cause some individuals inconvenience, the restrictions that have been put in place have been introduced in the interest of protecting the population of Solomon Islands during this global public outbreak.
“Travellers are asked to respect the restrictions that have been put in place and not take out any frustrations they may have on Immigration staff,” said Mr Rore.