Archbishop Leonard Dawea highlighted this during his 42nd Independence Anniversary speech on Tuesday 7 July at St. Barnabas Cathedral.
Archbishop said following the declaration by the WHO of the COVID-19 as a global pandemic and subsequent declaration by the National Government of a Public State of Emergency (SOE) in March this year, with Honiara being a key Emergency zone, the ACoM PHQ went about producing the church’s COVID-19 disaster preparedness and response plan.
“The plan puts in place measures through which the church can manage the risks associated with the virus and preparedness and emergency arrangements in alignment with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services National COVID-19 preparedness and response plan of the country. The arrangement contain in the plan are to observe and implement from the Provincial level to the dioceses, institutions and parish/ community levels,” said Archbishop Dawea.
He explained the phase one of the plan includes preparedness that involves the promotion and awareness activities within parishes and communities of risk associated with the virus and preventative measures people can take to avoid the importation and spread of the disease. This is categorized under three levels: 1 household level, 2 office level and 3 church buildings.
He added since the plan was produced, the ACoM health coordinator has had a training session with catechists representing DoCM parishes, given them pamphlets produced by the ministry of health.
“It was hoped the Catechists, with the help of Rectors will carry out awareness in the respective parishes. The Health Coordinator is also working with different departments at the PHQ and DoCM so all COVID-19 related awareness will also be integrated into their programs and activities in all dioceses and institutions.
“Phase 2 of the plan outlines the response to be taken in the event a positive case of COVID-19 is reported in the country. These are also to be undertaken according to the 3 categories described – household (homes), office (work place) and church buildings (worship places). Most of the measures as described in the phase will be put in place and more Personal Protective Equipment will be provided, with greater emphasis on social distancing.
“Very fortunately, the country remains COVID-19 free and we pray that we shall remain like this through the grace of God. That said, we do not have to put the plans in place although a lot of emphasis have been made in practicing good hygiene which hand sanitizers provided in the office and discouraging of large group meetings especially while the results of suspected cases were still unknown,” said Archbishop.
He said it should be noted that ACoM plan is subject to change as the national environment regarding the pandemic evolves.
“The plan will be amended to reflect emerging requirements of the health ministry and other relevant authorities.”
By ESTHER NURIA