Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has assured our students overseas that the Government will provide financial assistance to ensure their safety and comfort in their host countries amidst the current covid-19 global pandemic.
Mr Sogavare further assured parents that the Government is in active contact with host governments as well our diplomatic missions overseas to monitor the situation as preparations to increase quarantine sites in Honiara are underway.
These quarantine sites are critical to cater for our students in an event where there is any mass evacuation if host governments requested us to do so.
So far the Government has not received any advice from host governments to evacuate our students overseas.
“For the time being the Government will provide financial assistance to our overseas students while we expand the capacity of our quarantine facilities to cater for the return of all our students studying abroad should a decision to that effect be made in consultation with the host countries at the appropriate time,” Sogavare said on Friday.
Currently the countries of immediate concern are Fiji and the Philippines where the majority of our students are studying.
The Philippines has imposed a complete lock down, which makes any evacuation plans
unworkable. Fiji has also imposed a complete lock down in Lautoka and may do so in Suva soon.
Whilst the option for evacuation remains open, the Government will be bound by the internal safety, security and quarantine requirements imposed on citizens and residents by the host countries.
The government also acknowledges the comprehensive safety measures imposed by the host countries which our students are required to adhere to for their safety.
The Government is also concerned that a mass repatriation of our citizens from affected countries may compromise our safety measures due to lack of adequate quarantine facilities now in country.
Currently, the measures Government is putting in place is aimed at protecting the country from the virus, which can only be brought in by people coming from infected countries.
While efforts to improve our capacity is ongoing, the Government is dealing with the issues of our students in the best interest of all of everyone.