• PM: SPECIAL NATION WIDE ADDRESS

PM: SPECIAL NATION WIDE ADDRESS

Honiara

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Type : Special Messages
Date : January 18, 2022
Condition : New
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 SPECIAL NATION WIDE ADDRESS

 HON PRIME MINISTER MANASSEH SOGAVARE, MP. 18.01.22

Fellow Solomon Islanders, listening in from around our nation and from overseas, thank you for joining me on this morning’s special address on the COVID-19 situation in our country.

Fellow citizens when I last addressed you all I informed that we had at that time registered a total of 25 cases of COVID-19 infections diagnosed in Solomon Islands since the begining of the Pandemic in late 2019.

Today I stand here with a heavy heart to inform you all that our molecular laboratory has just diagnosed a further 7 cases of COVID-19.

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections ever recorded in Solomon Islands to 32.

Six of these new cases are in Pelau villiage in Ontong Java, and one is a foreign national that arrived from Brisbane on Friday 17th January 2021.

Fellow citizens, we now have community transmission of COVID-19 IN Ontong Java, most definitely in Pelau villiage, but in all probability, it may have already reached Luaniua.

According to our contact tracing information, the index case that brought the infection to Pelau villiage is a medical doctor from PNG who hails from Tasman Islands and has traditional ties with the people of Pelau.

This doctor with nine other people including members of his family crossed the border illegally from Tasman to come to Pelau on 9th January 2021.

It is very disturbing that such a highly qualified person, a medical doctor blatantly disregarded our laws, breached our COVID-19 regulations, and crossed our border illegally. He has now started a community transmission of COVID -19 to his relatives and people of Pelau.

It is extremely disappointing that the relatives of this doctor in Pelau village completely disregarded the instructions from the government to NOT ALLOW any person from the other side of the border to land at or stay in any of their villages and homes.

By allowing the doctor to enter the village they have provided the platform to the start the community transmission of COVID-19 in Pelau.

In this regard the relatives of this doctor have also breached the COVID-19 regulations by allowing this doctor and his family to land and stay in Pelau and started the Community transmission of COVID-19 in Pelau and the rest of Ontong Java, I must reiterate that all individuals who crossed the border illegally and those that sheltered them in contravention of government advise in Pelau will be investigated at the appropriate time.

Next Steps

Fellow Solomon Islanders, we currently have an advance team of health personnel at Ontong Java together with Police personnel from Patrol Boat Gizo.

With confirmation of the community transmission of COVI-19 in Ontong Java, the government is deploying a team of 31 people in its first response phase to Ontong Java comprising 20 health personnel, 6 NDMO staff and 5 additional police officers, tomorrow, Wednesday 19th January 2022.

These team will travel with essential supplies to assist them to quantity the magnitude of the community transmission of COVID-19 infection in Pelau and other communities in Ontong Java and work with the community to bring it under control.

The team include staff to undertake further contract tracing and surveillance work, risk communication, clinical management of those that get ill, coordination and planning personnel from NDMO and police officers.

The team is travelling with medical equipment and supplies, additional tents to be set up as quarantine stations, field hospital, and accommodation units for the travelling personnel together with other essential commodities including fuel for normal operations and helicopter.

The team will depart tomorrow on MV Solomons Prestrige II and should arrive in Pelau early on Friday Morning.

Fellow citizens, we are not sure what variant is circulating in Pelau, but whether it is the Delta or the Omiricon variant, as you already know from my previous address – both these variants are described as the fittest, the fastest and the deadliest variants of COVID-19.

It is therefore my prayer and sincere hope that those individuals that had contracted the virus will not get seriously sick from it and recover as soon as possible.

Fellow Solomon Islanders given the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation in Ontong Java I have today declared a lockdown of the whole of Ontong Java and its surrounding areas for an indefinite period.

During this time

a. No vessel or helicopter is allowed to enter or leave Ontong Java except for vessels or helicopters authorised through the Oversight Committee and its Operating arms.

b. No one, except authorized officers are allowed to travel to or leave Ontong Java

Untill further Notice

a.We discourage mixing of people from Luaniua and Pelau villiages

b. Movements of people within the two villiages are still allowed but when they do move around, we advise all villagers to observe and implement COVID-19- safe practices including:

i. Wear masks – all persons on the islands must wear face masks

ii. DO NOT gather in numbers or large crowds

iii. Practice social distancing and stay at least 2.0 meters from the next person

iv. Use hand – sanitizers whenever you touch something or someone

v. Do not shake hands

vi. Cough or sneeze into your elbows

vii. Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time

When our full team is on the ground, a detailed assessment will conducted, and additional measures will be implemented, as necessary.

Maintaining the food supply chain to and within Ontong Java

Fellow citizens, the government will ensure that food supplies to the shops in Pelau and Luaniua is marinated through approval shipping services to ensure people of Ontong Java can still access and buy their food from their suppliers.

In this regard the vessel MV Solomon Prestrige 2 which had been recalled by the Oversight Committee on Saturday 15th January will be allowed to travel to Ontong java on Wednesday 19th January with its cargo to supply shops in Luaniua and Pelau and take the combine response team and their gears to Pelau.

The government will inform shop owners in Pelau and Luaniua and suppliers in Honiara on the shipping services to Ontong Java during the lockdown period to ensure they can restock food suppliers and other essential commodities such as water on the island.

Call to chiefs, Church Leaders, and members of the Communities to cooperate in the flight to contain and eliminate COVID-19 in Ontong Java.

I now speak directly to the chiefs, Church Leaders, and people of Ontong Java.

Please know the COVID-19 is now in the Pelau community and that it is going to spread rapidly throughout your village.

Please observe the COVID-19 measures I have outlined above. We have gone past the prevention phase now and must now focus our efforts to:

i. Reduce the rate of transmission in the community through COVID-19 safe practices

ii. As much as possible, isolate those that are positive and those with symptoms or are sick,

iii. If the COVID-19 infection is widespread there would be no option but to manage all COVID-19 cases in peoples own homes – which will mean all others in the household will get infected.

iv. Prevent any further illegal border crossers from Tasman and other nearby PNG islands.

It is my sincere hope that people infected with the virus will not get sick from it, simply because we do not have any capacity to transfer sick patients to Honiara.

Every person that gets sick from COVID-19 will be managed in Ontong Java. I pray we will not witness serious disease and / or lives lost as we have seen in other countries. It is incredibly sad. This could have been prevented if not for the border crossers.

COVID-19 Vaccination

I am encouraged that a high proportion of adults in Ontong Java have taken their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. While not as good as those that have taken both doses, the vaccine will provide some protection that may reduce the severity of disease if one gets infected or prevent loss of lives.

I call on all adults above 18 years of age who had not been vaccinated to please get vaccinated NOW if do not yet have symptoms of COVID-19 and also call on those that have taken 1 dose of vaccine and are now ill to complete your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Taking your vaccination now does not offer you protection right away because it takes 3-4 weeks for your immunities to build, however taking the first dose will commence the building of your body’s defense process slowly and taking your second dose will ensure that within 3-4 weeks your protection through the vaccine will reach its maximum level.

So do not delay any more – take your vaccine. It is already too late to prevent infection, but taking it now is still better than not taking it at all.

Keep you updated on the progress of our operation in Ontong Java.

Expect the numbers of infected people to grow rapidly in the coming days and weeks. Expect that some people could even lose their lives.

That has been the trend of COVID-19 in other countries.

Pray for God’s intervention to protect our people in Ontong Java, and to bless our response teams that are there or traveling there to assist our people in Ontong Java.

The Case in Honiara

Fellow Citizens, before I close let me also inform you that the positive case that arrived in Honiara from Brisbane on Friday 14th January is being transferred to the Central Field Hospital for further management and care under our COVID-19 protocol.

Implication of this new development

Fellow citizens we will assess the impact of having community transmission in Ontong Java and positive cases in Honiara to determine our approach to further incoming passengers from overseas.

Currently our weekly Friday flights from Brisbane and special charter flights are likely to continue to operate but with heightened pre-departure and post arrival health assessments to minimize the risk of additional importation of COVID-19 cases arriving through our international airport, while we manage the community transmission at Ontong Java.

Conclusion

Fellow citizens, it is sad that we now have community transmission of COVID-19 in Ontong Java.

It is even more distressing that the COVID-19 infection was brought to our shores by a medical doctor that has illegally crossed our borders from Tasman island to Pelau village by relatives.

While I respect family ties, these actions by the doctor and his family members and the relatives in Palau is responsible for the starting of community transmission of COVID-19 in Palau.

Our front liners had made huge sacrifices over the past two years to prevent community transmission. I am greatly saddened that the careless action by a few people responsible for the community transmission in Pelau demonstrate the total lack of respect for the continuous sacrifice of our front liners – and this must stop.

I re-iterate my call to all communities living along our western border, please ensure that no one from the other side of the border is allowed to land in any of your villages. If they come, please report them to the police and send them back.

It is my prayer that no one will get seriously sick or lose their life because of the illegal entry and that we will be able to contain the community transmission soon and eliminate the virus at Ontong Java.

Fellow citizens, now that COVID-19 is on Ontong Java, it is easy for the virus to spread to other parts of the country from there – including to Western, Choiseul, Isabel and Malaita provinces and to Honiara.

This is the reason we have instituted an immediate lockdown of Ontong Java effective from today.

I also ask anyone that may have travelled from Ontong Java anytime from 10th of January this year and onward to any other part of the country to please inform the health clinic or police station nearest to where you currently are because it is important that we also see you and test you for any possible infection.

I call on all members of the public to take more care from now onward on what you do.

Please practice COVID-19 safe practices from this new phase in our fight against COVID-19.

Let me close with a quote from the Book of Psalms 16 verse 1 and 1 quote…

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”,

May God almighty bless our people in Ontong Java as they face COVID-19 and our front liners as they lead our fight to contain and stop the virus from spreading beyond Ontong Java and eliminate it in Ontong Java.

To God be the Glory, Great things He has done.

We are one people, we are one nation, we are Solomon Islands.

UMI TUGEDA AGAINST COVID-19.

My God Bless Solomon Islands from shore to shore

Thank you for your attention.

 

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