Solomon Islands imposes 60 hour Honiara lockdown over covid outbreak

Honiara lockdown
Honiara now in lockdown in response to covid outbreak in the capital. Image: SBM

By Robert Iroga in Honiara

The Solomon islands government endorsed a 60 hour lockdown in the capital Honiara last night after an urgent special national address by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare confirming covid-19 community transmission.

Honiara Emergency Zone will be in lockdown from 6pm last evening to 6am, Saturday, 22 January 2022.

The lockdown comes with restriction of movements of people as ordered by the Prime Minister under Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (Honiara Emergency Zone) (Restriction of Movement of Persons) Order 2022.

The order reads: “A person must not enter or leave the emergency zone on and from 6.00 pm on Wednesday 19 January 2022 until 6.00 am on Saturday 22 January 2022.”

The order also spelt out that a person must be at his or her residence during the lockdown period.

And it further stated that a person must not be away from his or her residence during the lockdown period.

Essential workers exempt
Those who are exempt to travel during the lockdown are essential services workers who are covered under the Essential Services Act (Cap. 12).

The lockdown in the Honiara Emergency Zone is important for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to continue to carry out contact tracing of people who travelled on MV Awka from Ontong Java on January 10 after a passenger on that trip was tested positive for covid-19.

Prime Minister Sogavare said: “The full extent of the covid-19 infection in Honiara is yet to be established, since this diagnosis.

“Given that the positive case lives in a household with other people, and some other passengers that travelled on the vessel have been reported to be unwell, I am sad to inform you that we already have community transmission of covid-19 in Honiara.”

Members of the public are requested to practise basic health activities such as washing hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers, keep social distancing of at least 2 meters apart from another person, always wear face masks and avoid congregating together.

Other measures that have been put in place include:

  • Temporary suspension of all domestic flights to provinces until further notice;
  • Suspension of all incoming passenger service from international flights — humanitarian cargo flights to continue; and
  • Suspension of all incoming passenger services from international flights until further notice.

Humanitarian cargo services will continue. Other cargo services will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Overseas cargo vessels, fuel and gas tankers will continue to operate as Solomon Islands depend on these vessels for its survival.

They do not pose high covid-19 risks so they will continue to operate during the lockdown period if necessary.

The Honiara Emergency Zone boundary is from Alligator Creek in the East to Poha in the west end of Honiara.

Earlier warning
RNZ Pacific reports that Prime Minister Sogavare had earlier warned the country could expect a rapid spread of covid-19 and deaths.

This came after 10 people had illegally entered Solomon Islands at Pelau in Ontong Java – six of them were confirmed positive with covid-19.

One of those infected is a doctor and Sogavare said he was greatly saddened by this distressing news.

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare … saddened by “distressing news”. Image: RNZ Pacific/SI govt

A foreign national on a flight from Brisbane has also tested positive.

It took the Solomons tally of positive cases to 32.

Sogavare spoke on Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), saying the number of positive cases was expected to grow rapidly in the coming weeks, and loss of life was expected.

The SIBC reports the prime minister saying the government had sent 31 personnel, including five additional police, to Pelau to bring the outbreak under control.

Republished with permission.

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