The Pacific is stepping up its defense against the Coronavirus, with many countries introducing health screenings at airports and seaports.
Fiji authorities are holding six Chinese travellers in quarantine as a precaution after they failed to gain entry to Samoa for not meeting strict quarantine requirements implemented last Friday.
In the Solomon Islands, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is taking proactive action to prevent possible importation of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Solomon Islands, with measures being strengthened at the airport and ports, increased surveillance of influenza like-illness in the Country and at points of entry and information for travelers entering and leaving the country, among other measures.
“Considering how close these countries are to Solomon Islands, and the number of people travelling especially in the upcoming Lunar New Year season, the likelihood of importation of this infection in Solomon Islands cannot be ruled out. We want to reassure the public we are preparing for that possibility,” Permanent Secretary Mrs Pauline McNeil said.
The MHMS has formed a technical working group, including experts from the World Health Organization, and UNICEF. The essential medical supplies to handle cases of 2019-nCoV are being mobilized, and development partners are standing by with additional resources should these be needed.
As a ‘first line’ of defense MHMS is working with immigration and customs officials at ports and airports, training them on how to recognize cases of 2019-nCoV, incoming visitors will be provided with guidance on what to do if they think they have the infection.
In the meantime, Mrs McNeil said the public should remain alert for signs or symptoms of the disease especially if they have visited Wuhan in past 15 days or have come in close contact with someone returning from affected countries and had similar symptoms.
These patients should contact their local clinic or nurse aid post if they think they could possibly have the disease, calling in advance if possible, so that they can be assessed at home or isolated on arrival at the health facility. Anyone with suspected infection should avoid public transport and public spaces and remain at home except to seek professional health care, or as advised by a health professional.
To prevent the infection from spreading to others, practice health habits such as cover cough and sneezes, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands often. If your family member has flu-like infection, limit contact with the family member and keep your house clean.
The virus is thought to have originated in animals and has killed 56 people since it broke out in Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Cases have been confirmed in Japan, Taiwan, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, the US, and France.
Source: Press Release, Ministry of Health and Medical Services