The rapid spread and the devastating impacts of the Omicron variant in Australia and in other neighboring countries should be a lesson for the unvaccinated to get vaccinated.

This statement was made by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his nationwide address on Wednesday 29th December, 2021.

The variant has the potential to spread very quickly in Solomon Island because our rate of vaccination is extremely low.

“More than 82 percent of our population is not protected because they are not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all,” the PM said.

The low rate of vaccination is a recipe for disaster should community transmission of the virus is experienced.

The PM said that the National Referral Hospital (NRH) does not have the capacity to look after large numbers of people infected with the virus.

He went on to say that he has been advised not to house Covid-19 patients at the NRH for fear of spreading the virus amongst the existing sick population.

“This means that most Covid-19 infected people will remain in their own homes.

“This will spread the infection to everyone in the household.

“Many of the unvaccinated will get infected, many will be seriously ill and sadly, many could die,” he said.

Mr Sogavare stressed that he has called on all citizens time and time again to be vaccinated since the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination program in March of this year.

“Sadly, only 18 percent of the population responded to the call and received their two mandatory vaccination doses,” he said.

“Another 29 percent have received their first doses and I am urging those concerned to come forward to complete their second jabs when their times come,” he added.

“I’m asking all members of the public to ensure they are vaccinated.

“This is the only proven way to protect yourselves, your families and your communities from Covid-19,” the PM said.

The PM calls on all citizens to start practicing Covid-19 safety measures – wearing of face masks when you leave your homes, social distancing, avoid crowds and regular hand washing with sanitizers.

“I hope and pray that we are spared from the scourges of community transmission and equally called on all Solomon Islanders to prepare for any eventuality,” he said.

“Please keep our front-liners in your prayers because they are the only protection between us and the virus,” he added.

“Let us pray so that they can be able to contain and eliminate the virus within the walls of the quarantine stations and isolation centers,” the PM concluded.

Meanwhile, Solomon Star reports that a positive Covid-19 case was been picked up by the Molecular Laboratory at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) during a pre-departure test recently.

It is understood the positive case is an Asian who had traveled into the country and as part of requirements, was conducting pre-departure tests before his planned return.

Solomon Star reports that the required pre-departure test was conducted in late November, towards the first week of December. This was during the height of the rioting, looting and burning in Honiara.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) was contacted on the matter and says they are aware of it. However, they were unable to respond.

A spokesperson for the ministry told Solomon Star that a formal response is likely to be made today.