COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan

Published: Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development

Introduction (provided by MHMS)
On 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia of unknown cause was reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The cause of this viral pneumonia has now been identified as a new type of coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which is different from any other human coronaviruses discovered so far.
Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
The clinical signs and symptoms of the patients reported in this new infection resemble flu-like symptoms and initial symptoms, which usually appear 14 days after infection, include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, malaise, headache, muscle pain and there could be breathing difficulty.

From the currently available information, preliminary investigation suggests that human-to-human transmission is occurring, and infections among health care workers have been reported. More information is required to better understand the mode of transmission and clinical manifestation of this new virus. At present there is no vaccine to protect against this infection. MEHRD sees the need to prepare and respond effectively should there be cases of the virus confirmed in the country.

N-DOC Education Activation
MEHRD is working under the N-DOC arrangement to gauge the seriousness of the 2019-nCoV and its implications to the education sector. The N-DOC Education is activated as of Sunday 8th March, 2020. In its first meeting the following points were agreed:

• The safety of students and staff in all schools and that of its own officers are of paramount importance to MEHRD.
• Office management to ensure sanitizers are provided at the main doors of MEHRD Office (2nd and 3rd Floors)
• Room 2.3 is blocked and be used as the emergency operation center for the MEHRD N-DOC for the month of March 2020.
• Liaise with MHMS team to ensure accurate information about the 2019-nCoV reaches all schools.
• Coordinate with all Education Authorities to ensure they inform their schools about the 2019-nCoV and ensure preventative measures are taken. This would include good hygiene practices and ensure students do regular handwashing with soap and sanitizers.
• International port of entries (Gizo, Munda and Noro) to be considered with similar level as Honiara. N-DOC education team to liaise with Education Authorities in these port of entries and the health team based in the western province to ensure schools are exposed to accurate information about the 2019-nCoV.

• N-DOC education has liaised with the N-DOC health in its efforts to customize IEC materials to suit school settings. Particular concerns note by the MEHRD were good health care and preventative practices for students and staff in boarding schools.

• Stockpiling of medicines to remedy headaches, fever, cough, sore throat, for boarding schools is to be prioritized

• Essential Health promotion practices, including regular hand washing, use of clean face towels when sneezing, clean eating utensils are to be reemphasized in all schools. Existing communications tools by MHMS will be customized to fit the 2019-nCoV awareness and specific to school settings.

• The first confirmed case of the Corona virus in the Solomon Islands will be read by MEHRD as the redline which will trigger sweeping actions. These actions are noted below:

a. Immediate recommendation to the Permanent Secretary of MEHRD for the temporary closure of all schools specific to the location where the 2019-nCoV is confirmed. Hence, a first case for Honiara will trigger recommendation for temporary closure of all Honiara and possibly nearby Guadalcanal schools. Students and teachers to be asked to remain at home and be self quarantined with clear guidance and instructions from the MHMS.
b. MEHRD to advise all Education Authorities to prepare contingency plans appropriate to each of their schools contexts. MEHRD N-DOC and the P-DOCs will provide support if required. Education Authorities will be asked to indicate cost implications of school closures to all parties (SIG, Education Authorities, and Parents).
c. MEHRD to advise all Education Authorities to ensure their teachers prepare and provide their students with supplementary learning materials that will help to ensure students are occupied in covering required topics whilst they remain at home.
d. MEHRD through its appropriate powers will amend approved 2020 academic calendar.

MEHRD, through its N-DOC will continue to engage with other N-DOCs, P-DOCs, Development partners, the NDMO, Education Authorities, CSOs, NGOs, and Faith based organizations to ensure students and staff of all schools throughout Solomon Islands get the right information about the corona virus, and that a well-coordinated response is administered.

N-DOC education team will meet daily and provide regular inputs and updates to MEHRD SMT and the NDMO.