Tourism Solomons has called on all travellers heading to the Solomon Islands to take “serious heed” of the Solomon Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) advisory regarding the current Coronavirus outbreak globally.

Tourism Solomons CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said while to date no cases of the virus had been detected in the Solomon Islands, the local health authorities were doing everything to prevent possible importation of the disease.

This, he said, included surveillance at all air and sea ports and other points of entry as part of strengthened measures to detect any traveller who might be affected with the virus.

“Our medical authority is on full alert, monitoring procedures have been ratcheted up at air and sea ports and all other points of entry, and health officials are on hand to check all inbound passengers for signs of illness.”

“Vigilance is the key here,” Mr Tuamoto said.

In a statement released last week, MHMS permanent secretary, Ms. Pauline McNeil said that considering a number of nearby countries had already recorded suspected cases, the likelihood of Coronavirus appearing in the Solomon Islands could not be ruled out.

Ms McNeil advised the ministry has already formed a technical working group including experts from the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

“Essential medical supplies to handle cases of 2019-nCoV are also being mobilised and development partners are standing by with additional resources should these be needed,”she said.

“We want to reassure everyone – both local people and travellers heading to the Solomon Islands – that we are preparing for that possibility,” Ms McNeil said.

“As a ‘first line’ of defence MHMS is working with immigration and customs officials at ports and airports, training them on how to recognise 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, she said everyone should remain alert for signs or symptoms of the disease especially if they had visited Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in the past 15 days or had come in close contact with anyone returning from affected countries showing similar symptoms. 

As of 30th January 2020 the Ministry of Health has confirmed that there are NO confirmed or suspected Coronavirus cases in the Country and will closely monitor the situation and working closely with stakeholders and partners to ensure possible protection to any importation of the Coronavirus (2019 –nCov) into the country.

The Health Emergency Operation Committee (HEOC) has been activated after a briefing with the National Disaster Operation Committee (NDOC) of Health and all health clusters and are now tasked with different responsibilities.

The activation of HEOC has called on all sectors and departments within health and outside of health for operational actions to be done on the novel coronavirus situation. The MHMS requests that proper coordination of activities and delegation of tasks and responsibilities are in place.