20 Mar 2020

Solomon Islands responds to threat of Covid-19

4:51 pm on 20 March 2020

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister has announced a raft of measures in response to the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Schools in Honiara and Guadalcanal Province have been ordered to take an early break from today as a precautionary measure.

Manasseh Sogavare, prime minister of Solomon Islands.

Manasseh Sogavare, prime minister of Solomon Islands. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Test results for the three suspected cases sent to Australia have all returned negative.

In a national address last night the prime minister, Manaseeh Sogavare announced a 90 day ban on all cruise ships and private yachts effective today.

Mr Sogavare also said that from Sunday there would be a major reduction in international flights with Virgin Airlines and Air Niugini suspending their services and Solomon Airlines reducing its international flights to three a week to Brisbane.

Domestic flights will also be affected.

All international travellers to Solomon Islands are required to undergo 14 days of self-quarantine.

Mr Sogavare advised people in the provinces to cancel any non-essential travel plans to the Capital and called on all visitors and unemployed persons in Honiara to return to their home provinces.

He advised members of the public to follow medical advice to practice a high level of personal hygiene including washing hands regularly with soap and water and disinfecting surfaces in homes and workplaces.

Mr Sogavare also urged people to practice social distancing and strongly discouraged attending any non-essential public gatherings such as at sporting events, concerts, night-clubs and kava bars.

He said church gatherings would also be discouraged if the situation worsens.