Three Fold Disruption in Honiara

The city was beginning to return to work in mid-February, after the usual Christmas and summer break. The cyclone warning was issued by the National Disaster Committee in early March, just as we were about to leave for Sasamunga. As a result of this warning, some wards at the National Referral Hospital in the capital were evacuated – some are virtually on the beach! The strong winds and heavy rain spread to affect the whole country by the evening of Wednesday (6th March), affecting transport and fishing.

The second problem over recent weeks has been an outbreak of Dengue Fever in the capital city of the Solomon Islands. This is caused by a virus (a flavivirus of the arbovirus family) and the vector is a mosquito that bites during daylight hours: Anopheles aegypti. After an incubation period of 4 to 8 days, symptoms develop including malaise, fever, headache, joint pains and sometimes a rash with vomiting. The only treatment available is Paracetamol and intra-venous fluids; there is no effective anti-viral treatment and no licensed vaccine available.

The third problem affecting the city has been air travel. The national airline Solair has cancelled a number of flights to and from Honiara. Steve’s flight from Munda on Thursday was cancelled, and his flight to Brisbane was delayed for 24 hours. Bruce Mullen (the Pacific representative of the Uniting Church of Australia) was expected in Munda on Monday this week, but has not arrived. We are still waiting for the arrival of some elective medical students from the U.K.

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