21 Apr 2020

Solomon Islands steps up security at PNG border

8:23 pm on 21 April 2020

Authorities in Solomon Islands have beefed up the security presence along the country's maritime border with Papua New Guinea.

Police said long range patrols had been carried out along the border from the Shortland Islands to Choiseul and the Malaita Outer Islands.

Solomon Islands police boat.

Solomon Islands police boat. Photo: Royal Solomon Islands Police Force

This was to ensure communities on both sides of the border were adhering to a ban on border crossings under Covid-19 state of emergency orders, according to police.

The Island Sun newspaper reported illegal border crossers had been arrested on Sunday but police had yet to confirm or deny this.

The maximum penalty for breaching the border restrictions is over $US120,000 and/or 20 years imprisonment.

The police director of the National Response Department, Alfred Uiga, urged the public to support police and report any suspicious vessels or persons moving around the border regions.

"PRT (Police Response Team) and Provincial Response Unit (PRU) officers from the Western Province deployed to the border will need the support of frontline agencies including health workers and other law enforcement agencies to deal with any person positive with the coronavirus crossing illegally from Bougainville," he said.

Mr Uiga said there was also a need to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak of the coronavirus among communities on the border given PNG had a number of confirmed cases of Covid-19.

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Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins