The two COVID-19 isolation centres at National Referral Hospital (NRH) are now almost fully equipped, with the delivery this week of medical supplies and equipment worth more than SBD$400,000 by the World Health Organization, Solomon Islands, with support from the Australian Government.

Two buildings at NRH have been repurposed to receive patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. Isolation Facility 1, at the former diabetes clinic, was officially opened by the Prime Minister on Monday. The TB Isolation Ward, built by WHO last year, has been repurposed and refurbished by the New Zealand government to provide the second isolation facility.

WHO and representatives of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services met yesterday for the hand over of the equipment which includes a defibrillator, electrocardiogram, vital signs monitor, stands for intravenous medications, stethoscopes, digital thermometers, gloves gowns and masks. The supplies also include two different types of ventilator for patients with breathing difficulties.

Permanent Secretary of Health, Mrs Pauline McNeil, thanked WHO for its assistance. While there are still no confirmed COVID-19 cases in country the Ministry, with the assistance of its development partners, has been making the most of this time to strengthen its preparations and response, including establishing facilities where COVID-19 cases can be assessed and kept separate from the community.

WHO Country Representative Dr Sevil Huseynova said the organization would continue to stand by the Solomon Islands government in its preparations for, and response to, COVID-19.

“WHO is supporting countries around the world responding to COVID-19, with the best scientific evidence and technical guidance. In Solomon Islands we are providing a whole range of support to the Ministry, and to the National Health Emergency Operating Centre. We have procured equipment and supplies for quarantine, triage and isolation facilities, and personal protective equipment for frontline health staff.

"We have worked with the Ministry to assess laboratory facilities and plan for new testing equipment and training. Our team is assisting with the management of the national supply of essential medicines and equipment and is providing information and analysis on COVID-19 to improve prevention, treatment and care. We have also recruited a team of around 10 local staff to carry out community monitoring and contact tracing, we are helping increase capacity in other areas.

“We stand in solidarity with the Solomon Islands as it prepares for this unprecedented public health emergency, with the support of our development partners which include GAVI, the Australian and New Zealand governments, and Global Fund.”

Source: WHO