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Solomon Islands nationals stranded in Fiji and Vanuatu arrive home
05:01 am GMT+12, 28/05/2020, Solomon Islands

 About 80-100 Solomon Islands nationals stranded in Vanuatu and Fiji due to covid-19 flight restrictions arrived in Honiara last night.
 
Among them were students who attended their university graduation ceremony, families, soccer players and other individuals on business and holiday trips before the borders of both countries were closed.
 
The casket of late Brian Abaita, from West Kwaio, who was a student at the University of the South Pacific, also arrived on the flight, with family members and relatives waiting eagerly outside the airport to receive their son.
 
The late Abaita, a third year USP student, passed away while sleeping in his room.
 
The cause of his death is still unknown.
 
It is still not sure what arrangement is made between the family and government over the boy’s funeral.
 
Police, aviation and health officers turned up in numbers at the airport to deal with the returning nationals with the aim to stop the coronavirus from entering the country.
 
It was a second Solomon Airlines flight after it returned with other nationals and expatriates from Brisbane, Australia on Tuesday.
 
The two flights were made possible by the national Government through the Covid-19 Oversight Committee who sees the need to repatriate nationals and expatriates engaged by the government after it issued the flight ban in late March.
 
This was when the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus as a pandemic that spread throughout the globe.
 
Upon arrival, passengers were screened before they were transported on waiting vehicles to Guadalcanal Beach Resort (GBR), which is one of the quarantine facilities in town.
 
One journalist who visited GBR described the quarantine facilities as a five-star hotel which the nationals and expatriate will enjoy during their 28 mandatory quarantine period.
 
GBR is fashioned with air-condition and liveable standard environment for those that undergo quarantine to enjoy during their stay.
 
The Solomon Airlines plane returned to Brisbane last night, where it is temporarily base until further requests from the Solomon Islands government to repatriate nationals in future.
 
Meanwhile, Japhet Honimae was among the 109 passengers who thanked Government for allowing a Solomon Airlines repatriation flight to take them home yesterday.
 
Honimae, 43, a postgraduate student at the Fiji National University was stranded alongside other citizens since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
 
“It was safe in Fiji. I have left to carry on with my research which I will continue back home and join online classes. That should be handy for me,” he said.
 
Honimae is completing his postgraduate Master in Health Services Management at the Tamavua Campus.
 
He is the director of Nursing at the Guadalcanal Province, a registered nurse since 1999.
 
Other students Margaret Takona, Angela Isihanua and Crystal Konainao also shared similar sentiments.
 
Solomon Islands High Commissioner William Soaki said: “We are very grateful to the Fijian Government for giving us the approval for the repatriation flight for our citizens who have been stranded here for the last two months,” Soaki said.
 
“Other students are still in the country. They will return home in June or July and the rest at the end of the year depending on their programmes.”
 
He added the body of late Bryan Abaita, who was in his late 20s was a third-year student at the University of the South Pacific (USP) was also on the flight.
 
“That is one of the sad stories, we have lost one of our students. He had a history of heart issues, which got him just at the end of him completing his studies,” Soaki said.

SOURCE: ISLAND SUN/FIJI SUN/PACNEWS


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