Atoifi Hospital prepares for COVID-19

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. While no COVID-19 has been detected in Solomon Islands, the Government, health services and other agencies are preparing for the possibility of COVID-19 in the country.

Dr Jason Diau, Medical Director and CEO of Atoifi Hospital reminds us that the key messages for COVID-19 prevention are, “wash your hands, stay home when sick, cough or sneeze into your elbow and clean frequently”.

What is happening in Solomon Islands?
On the 25th March, 2020 the Solomon Islands Government declared a State of Emergency which included the activation of a National Emergency center in Honiara and the formation of task-forces in all provinces.

What is happening at Atoifi Hospital?
Dr Diau explains, “At Atoifi Hospital, after consultation with government authorities and church leaders, the Administration Committee has established the “Atoifi Emergency Operational Committee (AEOC) as the Committee responsible for Atoifi Hospital preparedness planning, and for coordination of East Malaita clinics and community responses.”

These community representatives, who are leaders in their communities, have been trained and appointment, with two community representatives also invited to be members of the AEOC. The community representatives are Mr Tommy Esau, representative for communities South of Atoifi and Mr Joseph Ishmael, representative for communities North of Atoifi. The health clinic team in Nafinua will also nominate, train and support community representatives.

The Hospital is focusing on awareness about simple hygiene measures and includes ward talks to patients and relatives about COVID19 and ways to prevent it. Dr Diau reports, “Isolation wards have been selected and are awaiting provincial/national facility inspectors to inspect before further preparation work can be done.”

An alternate public access has been completed from the jetty along the fence line all the way to the hydro station in case Atoifi Hospital has to be quarantined. This is important as the Hospital road has been used as public road in the past.

What is happening at Atoifi College of Nursing?
The Atoifi College of Nursing is planning to resume classes on 25th May and is thus prioritizing completion of the dining hall facility so that all College of Nursing activities will be away from the main hospital buildings.

Community Awareness Measures
Community Awareness Measures are being planned in both the Atoifi Catchment Area and Eastern Region Zones 1 – 4. Some community preparation activities already been delivered by Mr Tommy Esau (reported in a separate news story on Atoifi Health Research Website).

For more information about the COVID-19 response in East Malaita, please email Dr Diau at:

Photo (supplied by J. Diau): Eastern Region Nurses and AEOC members at the COVID-19 Training on 7 April, 2020.