Solomon Islands faces economic pressure of quarantining repatriated nationals amid COVID-19 threat

Source: Xinhua| 2020-10-21 16:58:04|Editor: huaxia

SYDNEY, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- While Solomon Islands government remains hopeful to contain the COVID-19 virus within its quarantine stations, they also realized the high cost involved.

The government reported three positive COVID-19 cases on its soil recently, with all of them were returned students from the Philippines and were diagnosed by routine tests in the quarantine station.

It was estimated 1,100 Solomon Islands nationals are still stranded overseas and the cost of repatriating them home will be around 100 million Solomon Islands dollars (about 12.36 million U.S. dollars), which does not include the risk allowance for frontline workers and the accommodation and meal cost, local newspaper Solomon Times reported on Wednesday.

With the repatriation flights set to resume in the coming weeks, the government is preparing for the repatriation exercise and expected some of the funds to support those excises need to be borrowed as the natural resource reliant country is suffering a huge drop in revenue like many other countries amid the pandemic, the report said.

Solomon Airlines, the national carrier that handles those repatriation flights, said although those operations have brought them a trickle of revenue, they are still facing serious financial problems and thus called for more support from the government.

"The truth simply is, that with over 60 percent of the Company's revenue vanishing overnight and fixed costs remaining, there is a problem - and the daily reality for Solomon Airlines is now a case of survival, a dire situation which has required some drastic action," the company's Chief Executive Officer Brett Gebers said in a statement on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said his government is determined to eliminate the virus from high-risk quarantine station and urge Solomon Islands citizens to maintain good hygiene practices and social distancing.

He said it is still possible for the pacific island nation to reclaim its COVID-19 free status if the virus to be eliminated within the quarantine station and that needs cooperation from all of its citizens.

As of Wednesday, Solomon Islands reported three COVID-19 positive cases in the country, with zero death related to the virus. Enditem