Health authorities in Solomon Islands expect a surge in Covid-19 cases in rural areas where up to 80 percent of the population live.

The death toll remains at 83 and the total number of infections since the outbreak began last month is now 5,891 – of which more than 4,000 are in Honiara.

The Health Minister Culwick Togamana said Covid-19 case numbers are now dropping in the capital, Honiara.

“The virus in now transmitting to our rural areas where 70-80 percent of our population reside therefore we are expecting a surge in Covid-19 cases througout our provincial hospitals.”

Togamana said the Ministry of Health this week will continue to deploy more oxygen supplies, PPE gear and medication to provincial hospitals, clinics, area health centres and nurse aid posts.

“People who test positive for Covid-19 should not wait for their symptoms to get worse before showing up to hospital,” he said.

There were 78 new cases in the latest reporting period on Monday, though a number of provinces didn’t get their figures through.

Togamana said people with Covid-19 like symptoms or test positive to Covid-19 should not wait till they are bed ridden.

“We are seeing late presentations among many of the severely sick persons at the National Referral Hospital including Covid-19 related deaths. Please do not wait for symptoms to worsen.”

Meanwhile, to mitigate and manage the economic losses brought about by the spread of the Coronavirus into our communities, the Policy, Implementation and Evaluation Unit has put together a community transmission response policy paper.

The paper provides for the overarching objectives to map the way forward during this trying time.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the policy paper contains several strategies which will spearhead the country’s general policy approach in dealing with the Covid-19 community transmission.

“It provides guidance to support the implementation of high-level strategic objectives that will compliment overarching priorities and establish the basis on which National and Health Response Plans can be aligned to target cross-sectoral outcomes that will also be reflected in the 2022 budget strategy,” the PM emphasised.

PM Sogavare stressed the primary objective is to manage the community transmission of Covid-19 while protecting the high risk and vulnerable population whilst simultaneously sustaining the economic livelihood of the people of Solomon Islands.