The risk of Ebola virus disease spreading to Solomon Islands is low, informed the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nevertheless, Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and WHO are taking precautionary action to strengthen preparedness, including infection prevention and control measures in the country.
The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest ever recorded. A total of 8997 cases of Ebola have been reported in seven affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America) since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2013 to 12 October 2014. This includes 4493 deaths.
“For Ebola to spread to Solomon Islands it would need to be imported by a person coming from a country infected with the virus, such as one of those affected by the current outbreak in West Africa”, said Dr. Tenneth Dalipanda Acting Permanent Secretary of MHMS.
"This is very unlikely because of the long distance from West Africa to Solomon Islands. Multiple flights are required and there are few people travelling between these countries.”
Dr. Dalipanda said that although the Ebola virus is transmitted to humans by contact with body fluids and secretions from sick people, people with Ebola do not transmit the virus until they develop symptoms: typically high fever, exhaustion, headache, and later, vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no evidence of the virus being transmitted in the sweat or saliva of a person without symptoms.
WHO Representative for Solomon Islands Dr. Audrey Aumua confirmed that while the risk of Ebola spreading to Solomon Islands is low, strengthening prevention and control measures is important.
"Solomon Islands has established protocols in place to rapidly identify and respond to the importation of serious diseases such as Ebola. WHO is providing additional Ebola-specific guidance and technical advice to Solomon Islands to enhance the prevention and control mechanisms for this disease”, said Dr. Aumua.
Solomon Islands took part in a WHO country preparedness survey, as well as a Regional Ebola Preparedness exercise alongside 23 countries in the Western Pacific to test national preparedness and response. MHMS have also met with members who have roles under the International Health Regulations, including surveillance, infection control, clinicians, quarantine, laboratory and risk communication.
MHMS is currently preparing to further strengthen surveillance systems and develop a case definition for early detection of Ebola cases, according to WHO guidelines. Clinicians and healthcare workers will also be trained in specimen collecting, contact tracing, reporting procedures, and the safe usage of personal protection equipment.
MHMS and WHO are working together to prepare for the rapid response to a potential case of Ebola virus disease in Solomon Islands.
Press Release: MHMS
For more information, please contact:
Medical Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC)
Command and Control Centre