Posted by : Posted on : 12-May-2020

Solomon Islands:  Implications and critical effects of dealing with the COVID-19 threat.

Solomon Airlines has announced its international passenger flights will be further suspended until 15 July 2020.

The move has been promoted by precautions due to the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Solomon Islands is now reeling, like other Pacific economies, from the potential impact of border shutdowns.

It has been said Pacific economies are suffering from the impact of around US$1.9 billion in losses from Covid-19 border shutdowns

In respect of tourism and the tourism losses to-date, Chris Cocker the head of South Pacific Tourism has said the future of tourism in the 'blue' Pacific must be green post Covid-19.

Mr Cocker said this week that Pacific tourism has been turned on its head by the coronavirus pandemic and will never be the same again.

He further said the tourism industry has had a wake-p call on the need to think of other revenue streams, and the new global demands for sustainability.

"I think the importance of sustainable tourism will increase as we move towards recovering and moving forward for the future of tourism in the Pacific, and the world as a whole.” he added.

He also said Pacific nations, which are mostly Covid-19 free, are mindful of the need to ensure health systems are equipped for when borders open up.

When it comes to sustainable tourism, the example set by the Barana community could show the way forward for eco-tourism in the Solomon Islands with the creation of their nature and heritage park.

What Mr Crocker said about health systems has not been lost on Australia’s High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands who reportedly has said while the Solomon Islands government and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to pool all resources and prioritise the COVID-19 pandemic, the eye must not be taken off other health issues affecting the country.

“We should not take our eyes off the ball as other health issues similarly deserve attention because the lives of patients are equally at stake,” Dr. Strahan said.

“NCDs are also the leading cause of mortality in the Solomon Islands, with 60 % of all deaths caused by cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and other NCDs, “Dr Straham, said

One should also be cognizant of the immediate strategic implications and critical effects of COVID-19 on the Solomon Islands, where the pandemic threat has became a wake-up call on the government to enhance resiliency and capacity mechanisms of the health systems.

 COVID-19 increases demands to update local risk assessments coming from human threats that should be supported by responsibility actions and reflected in national crisis response plans, political guidelines and national strategies.

According to a press release from the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) today, COVID-19 has significantly affected enterprises in the Solomon Islands.

A SICCI survey has revealed, quote.

  •  Nine per cent of surveyed enterprises have stopped operating due to COVID-19.
  • Twenty-two percent are partially operating, and eight per cent are operating with some remote working.
  • Fifty-seven percent are fully operating on site.
  • Fifty-five per cent of enterprises have had to lay off or are planning to lay off workers.
  • Thirty-four percent of this number have dismissed or are dismissing over forty percent of their workforce.

A simple tally indicated over 400 workers are planned for dismissal or have been dismissed.

“Key issues that enterprises are currently facing include:

  • A very high number (sixty-three per cent) have stated that limited cash flow stopped them from fully restoring operations.
  • Sixty per cent say that customers/clients have been affected and demand is lower than normal.
  • Twenty-one per cent have difficulties with loan repayments.
  • Workers absence; raw materials not in supply or increased; supplier’s not providing inputs and business partners badly affected are also listed.

“The majority of enterprises, forty-seven percent did not feel that they received adequate Government guidance to inform decisions regarding their workers.

“In terms of financial impact on revenue or sales, altogether eighty-two per cent of enterprises reported impact, of which forty-seven report high impact.”

“In addition, almost forty percent of enterprises said they did not have their own funding or access to alternative sources of funding to maintain operations and staffing levels.”

News sources:  Radio New Zealand, Solomon Times, Solomon Star and SICCI.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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