The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Honiara City Council, New Zealand funded contractor Reeves International and the New Zealand High Commission continue to collaborate to ensure that important work to extend the Multipurpose Hall and upgrade separate external facilities can safely continue while the internal facility is used to treat asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.
While Solomon Islands Government works rapidly to implement its COVID-19 preparedness and response planning, the decision to support the ongoing construction work around the facility is an example of the need to continue efforts towards longer-term economic and social resilience.
Careful planning and consideration of health and safety procedures to ensure appropriate and responsible separation of the field hospital zone from the existing construction site has enabled the youth and sporting facility upgrades adjacent to the main hall to continue in a safe and responsible manner.
The Honiara City Council (HCC) and New Zealand Government are partnering to deliver the youth and sporting upgrades at the MPH facility, which will benefit Honiara’s youth population. The Honiara City Clerk Mr Rence Sore stated, “it is our wish to see these new sports and youth facilities completed in early 2021 so that young people and athletes can start to use and train in them in the lead up to the 2023 Pacific Games. While the HCC has approved the use of the existing hall as a COVID-19 facility, we have appreciated the advice from MHMS that the HCC-NZ upgrades can continue safely as they are separated from the field hospital zone.” The HCC Youth, Women and Sports division office, usually located in the MPH, will be temporarily relocated to the National Hosting Authority (NHA) office premise at the former Sea King Restaurant Building.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Mrs Pauline McNeil emphasized the need for a facility to address surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Solomon Islands. “At present all the cases in Solomon Islands are the ones imported from other countries, but there is a need to ensure operational readiness to address community introduction of the COVID-19. At the same time, it is mandatory that we implement measures to ensure that the facility does not pose any risk to those working or living nearby”.
Health officials have assessed the site and confirmed that there is safe separation between the field hospital and Reeves construction site following remediation work. Workers will follow strict health protocols – as advised by MHMS. “Safety will continuously be assessed by MHMS officers and if the situation becomes unsafe, either for the workers or those inside the internal facility, work will immediately cease until such time that it is safe to resume”, stated Mrs. McNeil.
“We acknowledge that these are difficult times and we continue to support Solomon Islands Government to carry out its ongoing task of keeping communities safe from COVID-19,” said New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts. “We have appreciated the advice from health authorities that this priority infrastructure work can continue safely. The completed upgrades will offer young people a safe place to access a range of recreational and support services for years to come and will be a valuable training venue for 2023 Pacific Games.”