Health wants ban on incoming passengers
By IAN M. KAUKUI
THE Ministry of Health and medical Service says it is waiting on cabinet to decide whether to ban incoming passengers from entering the country in light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The ministry has requested cabinet to make a decision on that.
It says imposing a ban on incoming passengers is one of the measures that can be used to protect the country from the deadly disease.
According to the ministry, all incoming international travellers are subjected to temperature checks on arrival and are required to complete a Traveller’s Public Health Declaration Card.
However, until yesterday, the ministry is yet to get approval from the Cabinet that was supposed to meet yesterday regarding the submission.
Minister Dickson Mua earlier said they want all incoming travelers who have been in China 15 days prior to their arrival here, are mandated to report to the Ministry of Health’s Public Health Emergency and Surveillance Unit if they develop acute respiratory infection and have symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing difficulty.
Mua said the ministry is concerned about the spread of the disease and is doing all it can to stop the disease reaching the country.
Meanwhile, over the few days the public continue to witness travellers entering the country especially by plane and nothing has been done to stop them or going through check-ups on arrival.
The Solomon Star understands several other neighbouring countries have already banned flights coming from Asia.
The coronavirus was first detected in China early this month and has since spread to over seven countries including our neighbour Australia.
Meanwhile, an Ophthalmologist at the Eye Department at the NRH, Dr Claude Posala said in his facebook posting that during the most recent measles outbreak in Samoa, the ministry also requested cabinet to ban inbound measles suspects.
He said interestingly, the submission did not go past the Attorney General’s (AG) office to Cabinet due to issues and factors outside of the health arena.
“Loss of business to aviation, airlines and seaports and such were some of the reasons stated through the office of the AG for the MHMS’s travel ban submission not being granted.
“Other reasons were financial loss to SIG due to travellers claiming compensation for flight and travel disruptions.
“AG also highlighted that our current legislation does not protect or make SIG immune to any compensation claimants or such in such a travel ban scenario.
“It would be interesting to see what Cabinet will decide on in today’s session in regards to this current MHMS travel ban submission.
“With the AG’s response in the last measles outbreak travel ban submission, it would be prudent for AG and Cabinet to make a full disclosure to the public on the reasons and factors which are considered when making any decision,” Posala wrote.
Comments are being sought from cabinet.