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Solomon Islands lockdown a possibility, says PMO chief of staff
7:43 pm GMT+12, 24/03/2020, Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Government is likely to lock down the country in an event the first COVID-19 case is confirmed.
 
That’s according to the Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office Robson Djokovic.
 
He was speaking at a round-table discussion on the COVID-19 the Tourism Department organised at Honiara Hotel on Tuesday for frontline agencies and stakeholders.
 
The aim of the discussion is ‘Weaving our way out of Covid-19 Economic Options via Tourism’.
 
The country is yet to record a coronavirus case.
 
Djokovic told the discussion the government with other responsible agencies are seriously working on preventable measures.
 
“The government is serious in making sure we maintain the degree of normalcy to protect our citizens from catching the virus,” he said.
 
Asked about a possible lockdown, Djokovic said the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) is seriously assessing the situation with the latest ‘Travel Advisory’.
 
“And if the Ministry of Health and Medical Services confirm that we have a positive case this means the country will have to go on lockdown to allow the medical team to assess and track the virus,” he said.
 
He added stricter measures like curfews and other measures to restrict people’s movement will also come in place.
 
Right now, he said the Government will likely scale down the public service and also asking national leaders to assist their people in the repatriation process.
 
He also added that while the government is serious in preventing the country from the virus they are also working on an economic stimulus package to help the country’s economy.
 
Djokovic called on all Government stakeholders to work together in the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis.
 
Other agencies that attended the round-table were Solomon Airlines, Bank South Pacific, Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce, Guadalcanal Travel Solomons, Ministry of Finance, OPMC, ANZ Bank and Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA).
 
Meanwhile, the Government, without exceptions, should stop all foreigners coming into the country if it is to prevent the coronavirus from reaching our shores.
 
That’s the view of the Solomon Islands Medication Association (SIMA) in a position statement issued on Tuesday.
 
The Government over the weekend imposed a ban on all foreign nationals from entering Solomon Island, except for diplomats and technical Covid-19 expatriates.
 
The ban became effective last Sunday.
 
But in a statement, SIMA said giving exceptions for diplomats and technical Covid-19 expatriates is a loophole and exposes the nation to risks of importing the virus into the country.
 
“In line with the government’s stringent measures to prevent the import of Covid-19, SIMA wishes to make the call to government to ban all inbound flights,” the statement said. 
 
“SIMA sees a total ban on incoming flights as supportive to current quarantine and isolation preparedness plans,” it added. 
 
“Grounding the airbus to standby mode for emergency flights only, will save costs in the long term and allow essential items and articles to be flown in and out of Solomon Islands when and as required. 
 
“SIMA sees the current action by the government to ban all foreign nationals from entering Solomon Island, except for diplomats and technical Covid-19 expatriates, as a loophole and exposure risk of importing the Covid-19 into the country.”
 
Meanwhile, in view of the current Covid-19 scenario and preparedness, SIMA strongly advises the government not to implement any salary cut to all public servants. 
 
“In addition, all public servants who are involved as frontline officers must be remunerated accordingly as per the emergency plans and budget allocated. 
 
“This includes the frontlines officers at airports, seaports, quarantine facilities, and isolation facilities.”.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS


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