HONIARA, 28 MAY 2020 (SOLOMON STAR) — Solomon Islands Government was commended for repatriating the first batch of citizens that were stranded in other countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

This commendation was echoed by family members of returning nationals on the specially arranged repatriation flight on Tuesday.

“I’m finally at peace because a member of my family has returned safe and sound,” one mother said.

The family members told the Solomon Star that they are aware of the government’s much-publicised health protocols and standard of operating procedures that must be strictly followed.

“We know that we are in a very tough time with the uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic poised globally and to which we are not immune.

“To protect our families and everyone else, we must allow the government and other responsible authorities to carry out their mandated roles to make sure that we are safe and protected from COVID-19,” the family members said.

According to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, the Government is taking all necessary preventive measures against any potential entry of COVID-19 into the country.

“Therefore, it is the Government’s COVID-19 health protocol to have all returning passengers from overseas undergo strict screening on arrival at the Honiara International Airport,” Sogavare said in his last week’s nationwide address.

The Solomon Star understands that the passengers that arrived on Tuesday were sent straight to quarantine centres to serve their 28-day mandatory isolation.

Meanwhile, the government is being urged to start chartering ships to bring back Honiara students who were sent home as a result of its mass repatriation exercise last month.

Honiara resident Renceley Wane made the call following the government’s decision to reopen schools in Honiara.

Wane said most of the students have left Honiara with no money under the government’s free repatriation programme.

“Now, they are stranded in their own homes unable to return to their schools because they do not have the means to do so,” Wane said.

“Since the Government is responsible for sending them home, it should likewise shoulder the responsibility of bringing them back so they can continue with their education,” he added.

Wane said that it’s sad to see schools in Honiara reopened with half-filled classrooms because most students are still in the provinces.

“I just want to question the government why reopen Honiara schools when the majority of the students are still at home as a result of the government’s repatriation programme,” he questioned.

He said that the students’ educations have been impacted enough and the government needs to act quickly to get the students back to class…. PACNEWS