A fourth death has now been reported, along with a sharp increase in cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
Speaker: Dr Lester Ross, Permanent Secretary for the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health
ROSS: The latest situation report that we received we have 3,189 cases reported so far. This is an additional 485 cases from last week. So it appears as if the number of cases have sort of stabilised over the last few weeks. So I think we are reaching the plateau of the epidemic at the moment, but we'll wait until Friday, the next Friday to see the next number of reported cases.
COUTTS: Have there been any deaths?
ROSS: We have now reported four deaths, previously we reported three deaths, but we've got one more death now. So the total number of deaths is four now at the moment.
COUTTS: And is it Solomon Islands wide or is the dengue outbreak concentrated in certain provinces?
ROSS: We still have most of the cases in Honiara, about 89 per cent of all the cases are still in Honiara. However we have Guadalcanal, Western Province, Malaita, Lata, Isabel, Choiseul, and for the first time Central Province, that's the closest province to Honiara, have reported 10 suspected cases. We have seven provinces now, seven out of our nine provinces are reporting cases. The only two provinces that we have not heard any reports of any suspected cases are Rennell and Bellona province and Makira-Ulawa province.
COUTTS: Even if the numbers have plateaued at three-thousand as you described, but you won't actually know that till later in the week, even if you get the government approval for two million Solomon Islands dollars to help combat the outbreak, will that be enough?
ROSS: Well it's good to see that especially for Honiara the system has been put in place, this is the system that we were assisted by the team from Australia and New Zealand that came to help us, and we have a triage system in place with every cases that come through the outpatient of the National Referral Hospital are going through the system. So at least we've got control of what is happening at the moment. However as you have stated we are still waiting for Cabinet to have the final approval of the amount of money that we have requested so that we can replenish some of the resources that were supposed to be used for other services in the Ministry of Health and Medical services.
COUTTS: Have you run out of money yet?
ROSS: Well not yet but if we don't receive the money that we requested, very soon we'll run out of resources. So this dengue fever as well as the tsunami that affected Temotu province, were not expected and were not budgeted for. But for the first quarter of this year we were spending quite a lot of resources on these two disasters. So we really need to have the money that we have spent so far with attending those two disasters to be replenished, otherwise we won't reach the end of the year. But government processes are in place, we can always ask for a contingency fund, which the one that we're waiting for now, and later on during the year we might ask for supplementary budget if we have to. So that depends actually on how further this dengue fever continues.