Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says he has been informed that one in two residents in Honiara are infected with the COVID-19 virus.

That means close to 50,000 people living in Honiara are now infected with the virus.

The Prime Minister made the startling revelation during his nationwide address on the national broadcaster, SIBC.

He said the situation in Honiara is now stretched to the limit and community transmission is very high, urging residents in Honiara to minimise movements into town.

“That is why we need to reduce our movements in and around Honiara because if we have the virus we will transmit it, and if we do not have it, we will likely get infected and bring it home to our families and loved ones,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.

He said despite the many challenges, the government, through relevant agencies, will step up its efforts to test people for COVID-19 and also administer the lifesaving vaccine.

“We will increase the number of testing and vaccination sites within the Honiara emergency zone. This will include Honiara city clinics and identified testing and vaccination centers set up within strategic locations in the Honiara emergency zone.”

He said on Friday alone, health officials identified 430 cases.

Sogavare put the official death toll at 32 but other deaths are believed to have occurred at home.

The prime minister said all but three provinces have reported cases, and transmission was now widespread in the capital, Honiara.

Many of the local lockdowns that had been in place have been lifted but a curfew from 6pm to 6am will still be enforced.

Movement out of Honiara is not allowed.

The prime minister has reiterated calls for people to get vaccinated.

“You have heard me say in almost all my addresses to you that if we have community transmission of Covid-19 we will see a very rapid rise in the number of new cases of the diseases and the number of deaths,” Sogavare said.

“You have heard me say that most of the deaths will occur among the elderly and the unvaccinated. Sadly, this is what we are seeing.”

Sogavare warned the outbreak would get worse.

“The Covid-19 situation will get worse before it gets better. Many more of us will get infected and, sadly, many more may lose their lives,” he said.

“We must rise and fight this virus together – that is the only way. For residents in Honiara, the level of transmission is so high, I am told, that one in two may be carrying the virus.”

He said the oversight committee will finalise and publicise the new sites within the coming days.

Prime Minister Sogavare admits that things will get worse before it gets better.