The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Monday announced the release of a US$5 million (SBD$40.3 million) grant from its Pacific Disaster Resilience Programme (Phase 3) to help finance the Government of Solomon Islands’ response to community transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Solomon Islands experienced a sharp increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases and recorded its first COVID-19-related death since an imported case was identified on 09 January 2022, with a cumulative 3,182 confirmed cases and 33 deaths, as of 07 February 2022. Community transmission has been confirmed in six of nine provinces in Solomon Islands, along with ongoing testing in other outer islands. Honiara has been declared as an emergency zone, with lockdowns and curfews in effect.

A state of public emergency has been in place in Solomon Islands since April 2020 and the country closed its borders, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Referral Hospital is closed for normal services and only admitting patients for emergencies and accidents, with over 100 medical staff confirmed positive for COVID-19. The scale of the emergency is expected to be beyond the capacity of the government’s health sector to meet the immediate expenses needed for adequate public health services during the crisis.

“The ADB financing will help fund the country’s response to this increasing health emergency,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. “This quick-disbursing financing will expedite government activities to manage the crisis.”

ADB has extended its contingent disaster financing instrument for the Pacific to include health-related emergencies in the definition of natural hazards, allowing for the release of funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pacific Disaster Resilience Program (Phase 3) fills a financing gap experienced by many Pacific developing member countries hit hard by disasters, providing a predictable and quick-disbursing source of financing for early response and recovery activities.