The Red Cross Society will be looking out for Solomon Islands students, studying in the Philippines.

Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. Jimmie Rodgers says the Red Cross Society has been asked to assist the Solomon Islands government because currently the government has no representative in the Philippines.

This arrangement comes as six Solomon Islands nationals were tested positive for COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“The Red Cross has agreed to test all of our students and the Ministry of Health has communicated with them to try and go beyond the testing. We need to have people out there who we can rely on to look after our students”, Rodgers said in the weekly radio talkback show.

Currently 401 Solomon Islands nationals are awaiting repatriation flights from the Philippines. Most of them are students. A student studying in one of the institutions says it was a very sad day for them when six of their colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus.

The six confirmed cases are from the first batch of students undergoing COVID-19 tests. Another batch of students will soon undergo COVID-19 tests. These are all part of the government’s pre-departure measures to make sure Solomon Islands remain COVID-19 free.

Since a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March, Solomon Islands is still one of the few countries in the world without a confirmed case of COVID 19. The Philippines recorded its first three confirmed cases in January and February.

Rodgers said the government was under pressure that time to send its students for education purposes in February. He said since then they were not able to repatriate the students earlier for three reasons.

“Firstly we relied on the institutions in all the countries including Fiji and Papua New Guinea to give us advice whether we should repatriate or keep them there. The advice from the Filipino institutions is to keep them there and we can provide additional resources for them to stay there.

“Secondly the Philippines went into lockdown with no flights going in, like for example in the Pacific like Kiribati. So, it is very difficult for us to send in repatriation flights.

“And the third of course is it takes time to get permission to schedule flights”, Rodgers said.

The six Solomon Islands students are currently in quarantine for the next 14 days. They are reportedly without signs and symptoms of COVID-19. They will undergo more tests after quarantine. Red Cross Society will be carrying out COVID-19 tests on Solomon Islands nationals in the Philippines.