The implications of safeguarding the country against Covid-19

The implications of safeguarding the country against Covid-19

Posted by : Frank Short Posted on : 26-Aug-2021

The implications of safeguarding the country against Covid-19.

In his recent statement, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare again called on anyone resisting getting vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones from the Covid virus, particularly the deadly Delta variant which can spread quickly and easily.

The PM’s advice should not be taken lightly because the Delta variant of the virus is present in increasing numbers in NSW, in Victoria, parts of Queensland, in Fiji and in PNG, Victoria recorded a new high of 51 cases today, Thursday, and two days ago NSW had its highest number of 919 Covid-19 cases.

Deaths from Covid are continuing in Australia and Fiji.

In most instances those that have died had not been vaccinated.

WHO approved vaccines are available in the Solomon Islands They are safe and will give the protection one must have to prevent contracting Covid.

The Prime Minister said all working together will achieve the collective goal of keeping the country safe from Covid-19.

At this testing time of battling the threat of Covid-19 the measures necessary to contain the pandemic must be weighed up very carefully and the strategies deployed balanced. SOPE regulations are considered balanced and public reaction to the way the government has so far handled the pandemic favourable.

Last weekend rioting broke out in Melbourne over protracted lockdown rules and much the same occurred in New South Wales and in Queensland prior to the street battles in Melbourne.

The Solomon Islands will soon impose a 36 hour lockdown involving over 500 police personnel on the streets and at a very high cost to the already hard-hit economy. The reason for the lockdown has been made known and I believe accepted as a necessary precautionary measure in the event the Delta variant gains a foothold in the country.

Lengthy lockdowns had adverse impacts in Australia, as I have explained, where individual rights and personal freedoms were believed to have been infringed, albeit not the case in my view given the high Covid infection rates in the community at the time.

In Fiji, the head of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre, Shamima Ali, said while there was tension among the community over the worsening pandemic, job losses and economic hardship, it was unclear whether the there was anti-government sentiment.

In the Solomon Islands the goverment must maintain its policy of explaining its actions and stance on protecting against Covid-19.

Journalist Jimmy Noland writing in today’s Solomon Times newspaper writes about lockdowns and sets out an assessment on the impact of a “real lockdown” and the impact such a situation could have in the Solomon Islands.

I believe Jimmy’s article worth considering, and I quote what he had to say,


As Honiara prepares for a trial lockdown, it is probably timely to make a quick assessment on the impact of a real lockdown, if it ever comes to that.

According to the United Nations (UN), (2020) “The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impact of the pandemic.”

The report says that the impact of COVID −19 on many economies has been highlighted across the globe with evidence suggesting that the impact is worse in developing countries.

“Developing countries are more likely to suffer the worst economic shock and this is generally due to the lack of social support packages from the government.”

Solomon Islands is ill prepared for a real protracted lockdown, social support services or packages are non-existent. The only form of social support service is through the rural constituency development funds (RCDF), administered by Members of Parliament (MP).

The only other social safety net we have is the ‘wantok system,’ where relatives step in to assist in times of need. If ever there was a lockdown both systems are incapable of protecting the most vulnerable in our society. The impact would be worse in Honiara, where urbanization is happening unplanned, and those living in informal settlements outnumber those in formal areas.

How will they cope? Any form of social support service must be developed quickly. Such social support service needs to focus on their livelihood, or basic needs – such as food, water and shelter. In the absence of a formal social support system other systems should be explored. The church is probably the only form of structure that exists in most of these informal settlements.

The role of the church should be expanded – they should be supported, trained and equipped to take care of the most vulnerable in their communities, especially those in Honiara. The impact of a real protracted lockdown will fall on those that are already struggling, and established structures in their communities such as the church have a real role to play – if it ever comes to that.

These church buildings could be converted into a place of refuge, where people can take shelter and be fed. Or they could be used as a distribution point, where proper coordination is possible.

Either way, the church is the only existing structure in any community, and perhaps the only structure that still commands some respect in their communities.

End of quote.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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