Ramping up vaccinations is critical in the Solomon Islands as COVID-19 crashes across the country overloading the country’s fragile health system from the capital city Honiara to remote islands and villages.
Free of COVID-19 in the community one month ago, the Solomon Islands has reported nearly 5,000 infections and more than 50 deaths. Last week, authorities said one in every two people had COVID-19 symptoms, and testing was overwhelmed, indicating that many more people are sick with the virus.
More health workers are infected with COVID-19 limiting medical treatment, testing and vaccinations. Authorities are training non-health workers on how to scale up rapid testing to urgently help fill the gap.
Clement Manuri, Secretary General of Solomon Islands Red Cross Society said:
“COVID-19 is spreading faster than the wind from our cities and towns to the most remote communities. Testing and health services are overloaded, and this dangerous virus is running rampant in villages where people are yet to be given a first dose of the vaccine.
“We are urgently sending more Red Cross teams to raise awareness on how deadly this virus is so that people can protect themselves. We are helping people with critical information on how to isolate at home and care for sick family members.”
In the Solomon Islands, only 11 percent of the eligible population have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 16 percent have received a first dose, according to Our World in Data. Misinformation and rumours have contributed to people being hesitant to get vaccinated. Getting vaccines to remote island communities remains a major logistical challenge.
Katie Greenwood Pacific Head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said:
“We have already seen in Fiji and Papua New Guinea how this ruthless virus overwhelms hospitals and health systems. As COVID takes off across the Pacific, it’s more important than ever that vaccines get in the arms of people who are unvaccinated.”
“Solomon Islands and other countries in the Pacific are facing their first wave of COVID-19 and it’s clear that vaccinations help protect people from severe illness, hospitalisation and death, particularly in countries with fragile health systems.
“Increasing vaccination rates in the Pacific is crucial to prevent death and suffering. We must remember that it’s also critical to help control the spread of this virus by maintaining physical distance, wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places,” she said.