Gov’t imposes entry restrictions over coronavirus
The Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Clezy Rore on Friday 31st January signed and gazetted regulations restricting the entry of any person who have been to countries that have confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Under the said Regulation, if any person, who has for 14 days prior to arriving in the Solomon Islands, been in a country where there is a confirmed case of Corona Virus, will not be allowed to enter the country and will be requested to board the return flight or be subject to detention or quarantine.
The Government further advices that restrictions is also imposed to Government Officials, Members of Parliament and the general public to travel to China and further restriction of non-essential travel to other countries with confirmed corona virus cases.
The Government wishes to encourage its citizens to practice personal hygiene and to refrain from creating speculations and spreading rumours in relation to the corona virus that might cause fear and panic.
The Government acknowledges the risks associated with the outbreak of diseases as a matter of National Security.
Solomon Islands Government (SIG) issues further advice for travellers
Further to the announcement on Friday 31 January 2020 of regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the Corona Virus (2019-nCov) to Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands Government provides further clarifications relating to the restriction of people entering the country.
The Immigration (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”) provide additional entry requirements.
The Regulations provide legal framework for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) to propose and implement public health measures commensurate with risks to prevent importation of the threat of novel coronavirus or other threats declared as Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The Regulation is to enable Solomon Islands to respond to PHEIC as declared by WHO and is not only targeting the 2019-nCov Virus but also designed to enable a response to future PHEICs.
These measures do not constitute an automatic refusal to enter Solomon Islands by people arriving from countries where there are confirmed cases of the Corona Virus but is also necessary to ensure Immigration Officers have the power to refuse entry of high-risk passengers that are considered as affected by PHEICs.
These requirements impose controls on people entering Solomon Islands and specifically, when they have spent any time during the previous 14 days in a country where there have been confirmed cases of an illness or disease specified in a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declared by the World Health Organisation in force on the day of arrival.
Currently, the Novel coronavirus affects the following countries:
- Sri Lanka
- The Republic of Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Hence, the primary application of these measures is in relation to people whose travel during the last 14 days originated in or included China.
All passengers regardless of where they have come from will be subject to risk-based health screening by health officials before reaching Immigration Officers, and should this screening identify health concerns, Immigration Officers now have the power to refuse entry or permit entry on condition of quarantine.
Further, pursuant to Section 7 of the Immigration Act, 2012 a travel restriction is now enforced for travelers from the People’s Republic of China or countries with confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus transiting through Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu , Nauru or any other Pacific countries.
Solomon Islands will also be refusing entry for passengers travelling from PRC through Australia. This is subject to review every 24 hours.
Furthermore, any passengers found to be making false health declarations are warned that they will be liable to criminal prosecution and may also be refused entry.
Unlike the measles outbreak, in which the Solomon Islands enjoys a 98% immunisation rate, the Solomon Islands Government recognises that there is still a lot that is unknown about the virus, there is no vaccine, and the Government has limited capacity and a weak health system to deal with the virus if it spreads to Solomon Islands.
As such, the Government is taking all active reasonable steps to prevent the virus from entering the country, and the cooperation of all stakeholders is greatly appreciated.
The Government further advises all people to exercise good hygiene, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy, wash your hands regularly with soap, take extra caution when going to crowded spaces such as markets and attending public events, avoid going to airports and seaports and to adhere to advice from relevant health authorities.
A new travel advisory will be issued by the MHMS on Tuesday, February 04, 2020.
End note: Public Health Emergency for International Concern (PHEIC) is a declaration by the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) as an extraordinary event, which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to require a coordinated international response.
For further advice on the Novel Coronavirus visit the World Health Organisation website on: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public