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A budgetary support of $20 million (US$2.4 million) has been set aside by the national government as part of its assistance towards preparatory plans to combat the deadly coronavirus in Solomon Islands.
Permanent Secretary Pauline Boseto McNeil revealed this during a media press conference in Honiara on Wednesday.
She expressed the Ministry of Health and Medical Service’s (MHMS) gratitude towards the timely support.
“The ministry has submitted to Cabinet a paper last week and thankfully the Cabinet has endorsed an amount of $20 million in support of the emergency preparedness and response,” she said.
McNeil said the support is dependent on how the scenario will take place. If it escalates then of course it will need a lot more budgetary support and resources.
“We have technical support and assistance from our partner agencies in the ministry in terms of human resource capacity, technical assistance and in terms of the financial assistance and resources,” she said.
She said Solomon Islands is one of the countries that is prone to disasters and that it allocates budget for that but not such emergency such as the recent outbreak if it enters the country.
“For such an emergency as big as what is happening now, we have not put aside in terms of our submissions last year,” she said.
McNeil said the $20 million funding assistance is from the government and will also be shared with other partner ministries in the work towards the Coronavirus preparedness and prevention strategies.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Customs Jim Sutton says they are monitoring all ship’s movement in the country as part of stepping up the coronavirus prevention strategy.
Sutton during a press conference said there are many commercial and private vessels in Solomon Islands waters and they are watching all of them.
“We have been in touch and set up communication linkages as a group to all of the shipping agencies and the vessel operators,” he said.
He said recently there was a liner in town with almost 200 people on board.
“So we’re watching every vessel and the shipping agencies are keeping very close contact with us.
“We also have a forward schedule for all the ships’ arrivals for next month and its being updated on a daily bases so we know what’s going on,” he added.
Sutton said all the shipping companies are complying voluntarily and they are giving the message out to their masters and to their shipping agencies in other countries to comply or don’t come.
“For reasons of logistics, most ships are now being directed to come down for clearance off Honiara.
“We have major teams set up a taskforce in fact where we can manage up to 5 ships in a day. But we can expand into more if we have to by drawing on our staff and intelligence and investigation areas to undertake customs clearance work.
“There are quite a few ships that are affected by this. It doesn’t just relates to cargo ships, it relates to fishing vessels, logging ships, bulk carriers, private yachts and pleasure crafts,” he added.
Members of the public have voiced out their concern through social media that it might not be safe seeing the tourist mainly from Japan flooded the city Thursday.
Some said it would be better not to allow the ship to berth at the Point cruise wharf and allow those tourists to come in.
Attorney General John Muria Junior who was also at the press conference said as of Friday last week the Minister of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration has put out an amendment to the immigration regulation which prescribes entry condition.
“With the entry conditions, we restrict travel of people from certain places and that includes any person traveling from China.
“Particularly 14 days prior to the date of arrival, the person who travels must not be travelling out from China or other countries affected with the coronavirus,” he said.
He said the immigration has moved forward and put those restrictions in several routes with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru and Vanuatu....
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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