Solomon Islands authorities extended the country's state of public emergency for an additional four months until November 25, amid concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities initially declared the state of emergency in March, enabling the triggering of the Emergency Powers Act which allows the government to allocate additional resources in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
International flights to and from the Solomon Islands remain very limited and non-citizens remain barred from entering the country, unless granted special authorization from the authorities. Honiara International Airport (HIR) is closed to international flights until August 31. Solomon Islands citizens and permanent residents are permitted entry. Those arriving in-country will be required to complete a Public Health Declaration, detailing their recent travel history and state of health. They will also be required to provide details of their accommodation, itinerary, and personal contact details for the first 14 days after their arrival. Additional screening measures will be in place on arrival. Individuals may be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government facility, dependent on the country they have arrived from. Domestic air travel has resumed.
According to media sources, bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops are open and operating as normal. Nightclubs have also recently reopened. Social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures should be observed in all establishments.
As of July 31, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Solomon Islands. International spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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.