Should a lockdown become necessary, thoughts by a SI journalist?
Samson Sade writing in today’s edition of Solomon Times Online has said that a workable homegrown plan tailor-made to the local socio-economic situation needs to be drawn up in the event of a lockdown occurring in the Solomon Islands.
Quoting the article in full, it said.
Unless a well-planned COVID-19 lockdown strategy is employed, the potential for community backlash cannot be ruled out.
Lockdowns have been used in other countries to control the spread of COVID-19 within communities. The rational is simple, ceasing human contact is probably the only way to stop the spread of the virus. Essentially, the less contact people have with each other, the less the virus can spread.
A workable homegrown plan that is tailored to our socio-economic situation needs to be drawn up. An ill-taught out lockdown plan could potentially result in social disorder, depending on how long the lock down will go for.
The reason being that a good percentage of the people and families in Honiara are living on ‘hand to mouth’ basis and will need to go out of their homes to the garden or to a nearby canteen. It is not possible for a good majority of families in Honiara to stock up on food or supplies.
Also, most families depend on produce sold at the market or income from roadside betelnut and food stalls. These families are surviving on what little they earn that day. Most are residing in squatter settlements around the town’s peripheries, where social distancing or stringent rules on movement may be difficult to implement.
I asked George of Malaita and his wife who sell betelnut at the Fijian Quarter area about the likely impacts of a potential lockdown on their family. George said that since he lost his job the only means of survival for his family of six is through the sale of betelnut.
“A lockdown would mean we will have no money, because we are only able to feed ourselves on a daily basis from the sale of betelnut,” he said. “I understand why a lockdown is needed if the virus spreads, but I need to feed my family at the end of the day,” George added.
In the event of a lockdown, the government must be prepared to step in to assist such families through the provision of food items or some sort of food stamp to help them stock-up on food rations for the duration of the lockdown.
Discussions should now be taking place with some of the big retail shops in Honiara, implement some sort of a food distribution plan in the event of a lockdown. An idea could be to prepurchase essential food items, and have them distribute the food to the more vulnerable areas in Honiara during a lockdown.
A blanket lockdown without due consideration for the plight of such vulnerable group is sure to draw unintended and even catastrophic consequences. This would jeopardize the exercise or worse still, aggravate the COVID situation.
End of quote.
Mr Sade raises valuable points in his commentary, but it will be for others to consider and perhaps comment on the aspects of any social disorder that could possibly occur if a total lockdown should become necessary.
I share the concerns raised about the needs of the people and agree the consequences of a lockdown of any duration at home would affect people very differently than in more prosperous countries due to the socio-economic circumstances in the Solomons, particularly the lack of work and the lifestyles of the people.
Serious food shortages have already occurred in Fiji and help from the Red Cross sought in delivering emergency food relief.
The rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, especially the Delta variant of the virus, could mean the possibility of a lockdown is not something that can be sidelined,
Today, the Covid-19 cases reported in Australia New Zealand and Fiji are –
NSWhas reported 57 new local cases.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reported the figures this afternoon. A man in his 80s died from the virus.
She also announced the Covid-19 lockdown affecting NSW's regional areas has been extended until 28 August. It had been due to finish this weekend.
Victoria has recorded 57 new locally acquired cases, 44 of whom were quarantined while infectious.
Victoria processed 49,607 test results on Wednesday and delivered 27,581 vaccine doses at state-run sites.
There are nearly 15,000 primary close contacts in quarantine, and Health Minister Martin Foley yesterday foreshadowed a jump in numbers as people returned their day-13 tests.
Authorities are increasingly concerned by the number of mystery cases being identified around St Kilda, Middle Park and Caulfield, in Melbourne's inner south-east.
"We're really encouraging anyone who lives, works, or visits or actively uses that St Kilda area to please consider coming forward to get tested," Covid-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said on Wednesday.
"We are exceptionally concerned about what we don't know yet in that area."
There are more than 550 exposure sites, including supermarkets and essential stores from across Melbourne added in the past 24 hours.
New Zealand: There are 11 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today and eight new cases in managed isolation, including two historical cases.
The Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says that brings the total number of community cases, all in Auckland, to 21 - all are being transferred to a quarantine facility.
And this afternoon (Thursday), over 1000 new people have been deemed close contacts of a Covid-19-positive case who visited SkyCity Auckland's main casino gaming floor on the weekend.
In NZ steps have been taken to prevent a run on food supplies in Supermarkets and customers restricted in the amounts they can buy at any one time.
Fiji: Covid-19: Fiji reports 8 deaths and 653 new cases
More than half of the new infections of Covid-19 in Fiji are being reported in the western division.
This comes amid 653 cases of the delta variant reported for the 24 hours to 8am on Wednesday, with 462 from the west.
The government also confirmed eight more deaths, taking the toll to 413.
That compares with 590 cases and 11 deaths in the previous 24-hour period.
Fiji now has 21,304 positive people in isolation, with three quarters of them at home.
Sources Radio New Zealand.
Radio New Zealand this morning also carried a report about the extra vigilance needed among Pacific households and lends a degree of support to what Mr Sade has expressed.
Here is the RNZ article.
Pacific households in New Zealand are being reminded about the risks the delta variant of Covid-19 can have on their vulnerable and younger people.
Pasifika Medical Association member Dr Collin Tukuitonga underlined the importance of household's using masks, washing hands and following lockdown rules.
He said examples of Fiji and Australia showed just how infectious and dangerous the delta variant is.
"Forty percent of pacific households are multi-generational meaning parents, grandparents and adult children live in the same house."
Urging communities to take lockdown seriously, Dr Tukuitonga said people should feel encouraged and reassured by the government's lockdown swift approach.
He explained that Pacific peoples were the most at risk to the virus, and should be vigilant, noting that one case of the delta-variant could infect up to nine people and it spreads much faster.
"Covid-19 tends to affect people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, obesity and respiratory conditions.
"Our communities have those underlying conditions which puts them at a higher risk so that's why it is of a particular concern for us."
He said wearing masks in public, washing and sanitizing hands, social distancing and using the COVID.
End of quote.