BY ALEX DADAMU
WORLD Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Sevil Huseynova warned that although no cases of Coronavirus have been reported in the country, such efforts must be done to continue to contain and appropriate measures must be applied to prevent further spread of the virus.
Speaking during the Joint Press Conference this morning at the Heritage Park Hotel Dr. Sevil Huseynova said we must use this time to prepare for the possibility of a wider transmission.
“The country must be ready for the first case, the first cluster of cases, and the first evidence of community transmission and for dealing with ongoing community transmission – all at the same time.
“This is not a matter of ‘IF’ the new coronavirus comes to the Solomon Islands, but WHEN,” Dr. Sevil said.
She also revealed that the experience with other countries has been that with all the screening measures of the world, they could not keep the virus out.
“With all the screening measures in the world, many countries could not keep the virus out. This is because screening does not pick up people that are asymptomatic-people who show no symptoms – or people who have only mild illness. They are still infectious,” the country’s WHO representative said.
However, Dr. Sevil said that learning from the experience from other countries will help, for instance, in Korea’s situation underlined that this virus is unique with unique features.
“This is not influenza. We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.
“If this was an influenza epidemic, we would have expected to see widespread community transmission across the globe by now and efforts to slow it down or contain it would not be feasible. But containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must the top priority for all countries,” she said.
The Country’s WHO representative, however, assured the public that knowing and understanding the epidemic is going to be the first step to defeating the spread of the virus.
“Surveillance measures are working and epidemics can be contained. With early, aggressive measures countries can stop transmission and save lives.
Dr. Sevil also assures that the WHO has established a hub COVID-19 response in Suva, Fiji to provide coordinated support to pacific countries.
“Moreover, the United Nations (UN) identified USD 15 million to support the most vulnerable countries in COVID-19 response which will be administered through WHO and UNICEF.
“In the meantime, I would like to reconfirm WHO’s commitment support the Solomon Islands Government as it prepares for, and responds COVID-19”.