BY ALEX DADAMU
AN undisclosed location has been identified by the Minister of Health and Medical Services as a potential coronavirus quarantine isolation site if the need arises.
The location of the quarantine facility is somewhere around the Henderson, East of Honiara. The facility is to enable prompt and safe quarantine of passengers should they need to be quarantined.
The Minister of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Dickson Mua assured that this location is being established out of caution. There are no cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the county at this time.
A site like this will provide a space for people who may have been exposed, are not showing symptoms, and cannot self-quarantine to have a place to stay. The quarantine is standard public health measures taken to protect the public by stopping or limiting the spread of a contagious disease, like COVID-19.
“There is a difference between isolation and quarantine facility. The isolation facility separates sick people from those not sick. The quarantine facility separates people who are well but may have been exposed to the virus to see if they become sick.
“We are also looking are also looking at establishing quarantine facilities at the provinces in the near future,” Minister Mua said.
In the meantime, the Health Minister said that patient isolation facilities are being set up at the National Referral Hospital to accommodate and care for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, should the need arises.
According to the Minister, the selection of the isolation facilities at the National Referral Hospital was based on how the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined specific clinical criteria that are being used worldwide to define suspected and confirmed cases of the COVID-19.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Mrs. Pauline McNeil assured the public in an earlier Press Statement to the media that there is no evidence to suggest that surrounding communities nearby to the quarantine sites are at risk of being infected of the virus.
“There is no evidence to suggest that surrounding communities nearby to the quarantine site are at risk of being infected of COVID-19 since those quarantined are persons without infections.
“However, people living around the quarantine site(s) are kindly reminded to remain vigilant by practicing good personal hygiene behaviors, and respect the quarantine sites at all times by not going near the quarantine sites,” the Health Ministry Permanent Secretary advised.
The WHO country representative, Dr. Sevil Huseynova said WHO stands ready to support the Solomon Islands in any way possible.
“To date WHO has assisted MHMS with the planning and coordination of the health response, surveillance and Monitoring, strengthening clinical management and health care, and planning and implementing public health measures. We are supporting the ministry with its COVID-19 communications, and with information materials for the public about the virus and how to prevent its spread.
“This is not just a health issue – this is a public health emergency of national concern that will have social, economic and health impacts on the Solomon Islands,” the WHO representative said.
The MHMS and other responsible bodies in the meantime are advising the public to:
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze
- Wash your hands often with water and soap or hand sanitizer
- If you are sick, keep your distance from others – at least 1 metres away.