OPPOSITION Leader Hon. Matthew Wale has called on the government to urgently review its Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the repatriation of the remaining students in the Philippines.
“It is clear that this single case eluded detection in the Philippines because either there is a loophole in the SOPs for quarantine, tests, and pre-boarding requirements or that there was mismanagement or negligence in the enforcement of SOPs. This is simply inexcusable,” Hon. Wale said.
He said there is need to urgently pinpoint where the weakness is and fix it.
Hon. Wale expressed concern that the infected student had arrived on Tuesday, and it was not until Saturday that it was known that he was an asymptotic case.
He added that the number of days between arrival and confirmation of infection is too long, and the consequential risks to front liners operating in quarantine centers must be eliminated or minimized.
Hon. Wale further expressed concern that students in the Cheung’s quarantine center at Ranadi are allocated two persons to a room, which he therefore questioned the wisdom in this decision.
“Surely, this is risk that can be eliminated totally by ensuring each person is allocated a single room,” said Hon. Wale.
The Opposition Leader said the situation regarding our students in Philippines is a terrible mess that is the direct result of government incompetence and negligence.
“It is not good enough for the government to say the situation is beyond their control, even if the students must be to blame for some of the problems. The fact is that these are government sponsored students and the government therefore has the primary responsibility for their welfare whilst overseas.
“Further, in such times as these, the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a duty of care to ensure the safety of all our citizens overseas and must take steps to ascertain their legal status and other relevant issues.
“This neglect is compounded by the late payment of long outstanding allowances to the students. Mismanagement and negligence all round!”
Further, Hon. Wale again called on the Prime Minister to make his addresses to the nation in Pijin and urges the Prime Minister in the addresses to go beyond simply stating the facts and government decisions, but must also include recommendations on how people should behave in light of new facts.
“And if these are not necessary, that he should also say so,” the Opposition Leader stressed.
Hon. Wale said there was much anxiety in the Honiara public about what was permissible and what was not, on hearing about the first positive case.
“Church services and weddings and such other gatherings were affected as people were unclear as to what was the right thing to do in the circumstances. There is a duty of care on the Prime Minister who has access to expert advice to offer recommendations or guidelines for behavior in such situations,” Hon. Wale further added.
OPPOSITION PRESS STATEMENT