By ANDREW FANASIA
THE ability of our country to keep COVID-19 out from our shore rests in the hands of the good people along the Western border as well as families and friends in Bougainville.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare made this profound appeal to the good people along the western border and the people of Bougainville in his nationwide address on Monday.
“I plead with you to please do your best to protect our country, our villages, our families and our children – by not letting anyone from the other side of the border to cross and mix with our villagers or families,” Sogavare plead.
Sogavare’s appeal came after Papua New Guinea (PNG) recorded its first COVID-19 case in Bougainville just next door to the Solomon Islands on Friday 7th August 2020.
On the same note, Sogavare warned that anyone that aids and abates anyone from the other side, whether citizen or not, to cross into our side of the border will face the full force of the law. Make no mistake about that.
“I must emphasize that only the carelessness of our own people can weaken our defence against COVID-19,” he stressed.
He further warned that the government through the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) has since stepped up operations at the western border, and will not hesitate to take action against illegal border crossers.
“To our people at the western borders, if anyone whether citizen or not attempts to land on our side of the border please;
a) Do not meet with them or allow them to disembark or go shore;
b) Tell them to remain in their canoe or boat;
c) Inform police and health officials to take appropriate action,” Sogavare added.
He further takes the opportunity yesterday to also appeal to families and friends from Bougainville to please respect the travel restrictions at the border.
“The western border has been closed by the Government of Papua New Guinea and also by the Government of Solomon Islands during this State of Public Emergency.
“Anyone crossing the border will, therefore, be breaking the laws of both countries,” Sogavare warns.
It was understood that Solomon Islands is still a COVID-19 free country and a small mistake made along the western border will jeopardize the whole defense system against COVID-19 in the country.