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10 Apr 2020 | 12:15 AM UTC

Solomon Islands: Curfew exercise scheduled in Honiara April 10-11 /update 1

Solomon Island authorities schedule curfew exercise in Honiara April 10-11; maritime border with Papua New Guinea closed to small craft

entry/exit
health
transportation
SLB

Event

The government of the Solomon Islands is planning to hold a curfew exercise in Honiara from 20:00 (local time) on Friday, April 10, until 17:00 on Saturday, April 11, as part of preparations for an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the area. Police are expected to set up checkpoints in the city and will have the power to arrest those breaching restrictions over the curfew period. A heightened security presence is anticipated in Honiara during the exercise.

Earlier on Thursday, April 9, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare closed the maritime border with Papua New Guinea between the Shortland Islands and Bougainville to small craft due to COVID-19. The announcement is part of emergency orders introduced under the state of public emergency.

The current state of public emergency has been extended until July amid concerns regarding the spread of coronavirus. Authorities initially declared the state of emergency in March and enabled the triggering of the Emergency Powers Act which allows the government to allocate additional resources in preventing the spread of COVID-19, however, there has been no declaration of lockdown measures. From Sunday, March 22, Solomon Islands citizens and permanent residents will be permitted entry but must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Moreover, all arrivals to the country must complete a health declaration card detailing their state of health and recent travel history. Sick travelers on board of all arriving vessels and aircraft must be reported to authorities. Non-citizens also remain barred from entering the country.

Cargo ships are required to remain offshore for 14 days before docking at either of the two ports that remain open; the Port of Honiara and the Port of Noro.

As of April 7 there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay. To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.