Posted by : Posted on : 30-Jul-2020

Vigilance at a time of the Covid-19 threat

Although the Solomon Islands remains free from Covid-19, the State of Public Emergency (SoPE) has been extended through a Parliament resolution for another four months.

The Prime Minister had spoken about the need for vigilance and had said there was no room for complacency given the coronavirus threat, especially given the recent spike of Covid-19 cases in Papua New Guinea and the vulnerable border areas between the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Radio New Zealand reported yesterday that the Bougainville Government was also planning to tighten restrictions to ensure Covid-19 doesn't spread from the Papua New Guinea mainland.

There have now been 63 cases, mostly in Port Moresby, and two deaths with probable Covid-links.For months Bougainville has had tight restrictions on flights and ships coming into the autonomous region, while there had been limits on the movement of people within the area.

In a statement President John Momis said these measures were to be "further strengthened with enhanced border surveillance" at entry points.

He said to ensure Bougainville remained free of the coronavirus, the Emergency Controller would make announcements shortly to strengthen current measures.

Mr Momis said the region, with the support of its development partners, now had quarantine and isolation quarters, along with triage facilities.”

To further enhance border surveillance and protection of the vulnerable sea borders with the Solomon Islands, the Australian Government will be donating two more speed boats to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force next month.

With the additional craft, the police will be able to tighten border patrols along the maritime border with Papua New Guinea.

Meantime, Solomon Airlines has today confirmed the airline will extend its suspension of scheduled international passenger flying from 31 August as previously advised, until 24 October, 2020.

Brett Gebers, CEO of Solomon Airlines said the airline would continue to follow the guidance of the Solomon Islands Government regarding operational precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in conjunction with continuing border restrictions in international markets.

Sources: Solomon Star News and Radio New Zealand.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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