Solomon Islands

Two die in Solomon Islands bomb blast

   Police said the two, an Australian and a British citizen, were working for a Norwegian aid agency conducting a survey on unexploded ordnance.

The agency has named them as Trent Lee and Stephen Atkinson.

Inspector Clifford Tunuki said police were working overnight to clear the site of the explosion, which took place in a residential area in west Honiara.

Investigators will try to determine why explosives were present at a block of residential flats, which also serve as the project office.

More Solomon Islands students contract Covid-19 in the Philippines

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said this now brought to 12 the number of students who had contracted the coronavirus there.

All had been asymptomatic.

The latest six are from a group of 144 students scheduled to be on one of two repatriation flights next week.

They had undergone the first of three tests before the flight.

The Solomon Star newspaper reported the results were received by the government on Tuesday.

Sogavare said students who had tested negative were staying in two hotels while waiting for repatriation flights on 27 and 29 September.

Solomons students in Philippines test positive for Covid-19

This was confirmed by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Sunday.

"We have spoken with some parents. We will continue our efforts to contact and speak with the other parents. Some students have already informed their parents," Sogavare said.

It comes after months of failed appeals for repatriation from the Solomon Islands students association in the Philippines to Honiara, citing concerns for their personal safety.

The Philippines has had over 4000 Covid-19 deaths and well over 200,000 cases have been confirmed so far.

Chinese worker breaches quarantine in Solomon Islands

The worker flew into the Solomons with about 80 other Chinese nationals, many of whom will construct stadia for the 2023 Pacific Games.

The Covid-19 Oversight Committee said the worker passed a package to a Chinese national outside of quarantine, who owns a hardware store in Honiara.

The Solomon Times reported that person had now been quarantined at the Pacific Casino for 14 days.

The Ministry of Health said it was continuing to investigate the breach.

Solomon Airlines plans repatriation charter flights to Vanuatu, Tonga and Australia

A statement said the airline has sought the approval of the Solomon Islands Government and the relevant foreign governments.

The airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft, currently based in Brisbane, will first operate Flight IE614 from Honiara to Port Vila and Tongatapu departing at 8.00am from Henderson International Airport and arriving in Port Vila at 10.00am local time. Flight IE614 will then re-depart at 11.00am landing in Tongatapu at 3.25pm local time.

Covid threatens construction timeline for 2023 Pacific Games

A number of projects funded by the Chinese government were scheduled to get underway this year, including the construction of a new national stadium in Honiara, while the Indonesian government had indicated the multi-purpose hall could be completed by the end of next year.

But the on-going effects of Covid-19 were beginning to bite, with design teams from China still unable to get on the ground.

Solomons’ mass repatriation exercise begins this week

Around 300 people are expected to be repatriated over the next two weeks.

The Secretary to the Prime Minister, Jimmy Rodgers, said the first flight from Brisbane would have 132 people on board.

He said another on Wednesday would bring 130 people from Fiji.

"Every country there is a second-phase of this virus going up," Mr Rodgers said.

"Instead of dropping our guard in this country it is now time for us to even tighten our guard further. Because now the reason is we are also looking at bringing our people home to safety."

ADB boosts for Solomons and Tonga pandemic responses

The funds are an even split between concessional loan and grant which the ADB says will also help mitigate the economic impacts of the virus.

The Solomons' government says the funds will help tackle health and economic strains caused by the pandemic.

It will finance the training of frontline nurses and doctors to fight the virus, as well as the acquisition of personal protective equipment for medical staff.

Economic stimulus will go to the farming and fishing sectors, small businesses, and state owned enterprises including Soltuna and Solomon Airlines.

Solomons’ local COVID-19 tests return negative

This was revealed by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in a national address on Friday.

Mr Sogavare said the country's newly established testing facilities have the potential to carry out more than 3000 tests although the current capacity is at around 500.

He said so far four people who displayed symptoms of COVID-19 have been tested locally.

"Therefore, we have undertaken a total of 17 COVID-19 tests altogether, 13 done overseas and four done in country. All results, negative," Mr Sogavare said.

2023 Pacific Games confident of avoiding Covid-19 delays

A number of big projects funded by the Chinese government were scheduled to get underway this year, including the construction of the new national stadium in Honiara, while the Indonesian government had indicated the multi-purpose hall could be completed by the end of next year.

Lead advisor to the National Hosting Authority, Clint Flood, said the majority of facilities were still in the design stage and they did not expect Covid-19 would impact the construction timeline at this stage.