Management of arrivals into the country in the COVID-19 context has not been cheap.

Transportation of people and their luggage to quarantine sites alone has cost over a million dollars through the hiring of privately owned buses. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services therefore determined to address these costs through the acquisition of two new 29-seater buses through budget support provided by the New Zealand Government.

At an informal handover on Friday the New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts conveyed her appreciation for the ongoing hard work of frontline personnel, including those responsible for managing quarantine transport arrangements.

“New Zealand remains committed to supporting Solomon Islands with its efforts to manage the impacts of COVID-19. We have been fortunate to have no community transmission of the virus here yet, largely due to the ongoing careful and responsible management of borders by dedicated frontline officials. While border management remains critical to keep COVID-19 out, vaccination is the next best thing we can all do to keep our communities safe.”

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary, Mrs Pauline McNeil thanked the government and people of New Zealand for the funding support that had enabled them to address its needs and in this case, vehicles to transport arriving passengers from the International Airport to the quarantine stations.

“Sincere thank you to the government and people of New Zealand for the funds to enable us to purchase these buses. Health had spent over 1.2 million SBD since the start of repatriation flights just for transport hire thus the new buses received today will enable us to relocate funding allocation for transport hire to other areas of needs in our ongoing COVID-19 responses. Additionally, the buses will be used for staff pick up and drop for timely attendance to work and return to home”.

Mrs McNeil also use the opportunity to express gratitude towards other New Zealand funded and supported COVID-19 activities.

“I wish to also extend acknowledgement for New Zealand’s ongoing support rendered in the setting up of a new X-ray machine at NRH, procurement of thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment and hundreds of COVID-19 testing kits as well as the refurbishment of the 5 bed isolation ward at NRH in addition to the NZD 3 million dollar provided to health.

"We are working to finalise additional components of support with New Zealand on vaccine procurement and rollout. The support has contributed significantly towards our success in the swift detection, proper isolation and successful prevention of community transmission to date”.

The buses will now commence their operation this week.

Source: Joint Media Release