Solomon Islands has so far avoided the COVID-19 but that hasn’t stopped the government from initiating their preparedness plans and declaring a state of emergency. The government activated emergency committees, closed schools and restricted international flights in order to prevent COVID-19 from entering the country. Solomon Islands initiated quarantine procedures for suspected cases, with samples from 13 cases tested at a laboratory in Australia. All returned negative results.
However, the broader impacts of COVID-19 have been felt throughout the country with great economic consequences. The government is projecting a -4.9% GDP growth, job losses and disruption to imports and supplies due to the lack of inbound flights. The government has responded with a US$36.9 million stimulus relief package (309 million Solomon Islands dollars) that includes subsidies for households, loan relief for businesses, inter-island transfers and grants to provincial health authorities.
Like the rest of the world, the Solomon Islands is facing this unprecedented threat from COVID-19, and in addition it is also cyclone season in the Pacific, a difficult period for the country under normal circumstances. Cyclone Harold hit the Solomon Islands in early April leading to concern with food security, shelter, and water and sanitation needs. Most tragically, 27 people lost their lives when a boat transferring people from Honiara to the provinces to flee the coronavirus was caught in the cyclone. Responding to the damage left in the wake of Harold, while maintaining COVID-19 restrictions has been a particular challenge, but one that has shown the resilience of the Solomon Islands government and people.