Solomon Islands has one confirmed case of COVID-19. People are slowly coming to grips with the fact that we are no longer COVID-19 free.
Luckily for us the patient (COVID-Patient 1) tested positive while in quarantine. So, on paper, it is easier to manage, and perhaps contain, given that a small amount of people came into contact with him.
The Ministry of Health has been conducting contact tracing for the past few days. These are all precautionary measures, most of the people that came into contact with COVID-Patient 1 were front line workers – they were in full protective gear and are well trained. So, we are being told that the risks are minimal, and people should continue as normal.
For now, Honiara, our capital city, seems to be “normal,” with people going to work and most shops and schools remaining open.
If we look around and try to learn from other COVID-19 positive countries, one thing seems clear – complacency kills.
We need to change, before we are forced to. Here are some easy to implement suggestions.
• Make the wearing of face masks mandatory, especially in-doors (bank ques) where social distancing is not possible.
• Encourage home-made face coverings, relevant agencies (or a concerned citizen) should put out a video on social media on how to make one. They are comparatively cheap and feasible/easy to implement.
• Improve access to water so that handwashing is possible, especially in public places. If we can build a flagpole worth millions, hand wash stations should not be that difficult to implement – maybe near bus stops, the market area and food take outs.
• Restrict the amount of people in restaurants and coffee shops – encourage take away.
• Encourage clubs to move outdoors, their decking or carpark area, more fun out in the open – and limit those that are in doors.
• Restrict the size of religious and social gatherings.
We have been told that close to SBD$5 million dollars was spent to repatriate citizens home – so perhaps comparable figures should be spent to keep the rest of us safe.