Travel ban?

Health ministry suggests the surest temporary means of protecting Solomon Islands, all eyes on cabinet to decide


THE Ministry of health and medical services (MHMS) has reportedly requested a temporary travel ban on incoming travellers from Wuhan or China.

The million dollar question is whether government will endorse this.

Senior officials within the health ministry, speaking to Island Sun in anonymity, say cabinet should view the situation as “gravely serious” because of the aggressiveness of the coronavirus and should not be complacent.

They warn cabinet not to compare the current scenario with the recent Measles campaign, in which MHMS also requested a temporary ban on incoming travels but was rejected by the Attorney General before their submission could even make it to cabinet.

Health officials say process to detect the coronavirus is made complicated by the fact that carriers do not often display symptoms for few days, hence would pass detection processes in airports or ports.

Island Sun understands that cabinet met yesterday to deliberate on the submission by MHMS on the China coronavirus; a decision was yet to be made known when this paper went to print last night.

Members of public have also taken their concerns to social media, some having turned up at the Island Sun office to express their fears and concerns that current measures may not be enough to keep out the China coronavirus.

They also share the same idea that a temporary travel ban be imposed on inbound vessels and planes.

However, skeptic health officials tell Island Sun that regarding their temporary travel ban request for the Measles outbreak, the Attorney General had turned down the suggestion citing several reasons.

Loss of business to aviation, airlines and seaports, and such, were some of the reasons stated and other reasons were financial loss to SIG due to travelers claiming compensation for flight and travel disruptions.

“AG also highlighted that our current legislation does not protect or make SIG immune to any compensation claimants or such, in such a travel ban scenario,” the health officials say.

Island Sun understands that the meeting yesterday included Government ministries such as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Communications and Aviation, Immigrations, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), the National Security and including UNICEF and WHO. The briefing was to ensure all responsible stakeholders are well coordinated and are prepared to respond to the emerging threat of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to Solomon Islands.

Ministry of health is working closely with all health departments responsible for different clusters on daily basis. Daily meetings and debriefings are conducted to assess actions and monitor implementation of next actions

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