Tulagi bans betel nut selling as covid fears grow in Solomon Islands

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Betelnut sales ... now banned in the first provincial capital - Tulagi in the Central Islands. Image: SBM Online

By Robert Iroga in Honiara

Tulagi in the Central Islands province of Solomon islands is the first provincial capital to ban the sale of betel nut — for an indefinite period — as a measure to help control any potential spread of covid-19.

Premier Stanley Manetiva told SBM Online that the measure became effective yesterday as news reports indicated fears of a community spread of the virus in parts of the capital Honiara.

A 60 hour lockdown was declared in the city and was due to be lifted today.

He said that this was to avoid people chewing and spitting which potentially would spread the virus and from sharing lime as well.

He said that this was to avoid people chewing betel nut and spitting which potentially would spread the virus — and from sharing lime as well.

Manetiva said the ban stopped people from bringing in their betel nut to the Tulagi market and from selling it in the town.

The ban is only for betel nut while other local produce is still sold at the market.

Tulagi starts curfew
Meanwhile, the premier also confirmed that Tulagi had started its own curfew — banning or limiting all movements by people in the town after 10pm.

He said it was an understanding among the residents in Tulagi that there should be no movement after that time.

The old capital has also monitored ships entering its shores and now has only two designated places for canoes to land on the island town at Taporo and the market.

Besides Guadalcanal, the Central Islands province, is the closest to Honiara, which is experiencing community transmission of covid-19.

RNZ Pacific reports Solomon Islands had reported 48 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday.

It took to 81 the number of cases in the country, which until this week had had just a handful of people with the virus.

Robert Iroga is editor of SBM Online. Republished with permission.

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