20 March 2020
As the COVID-19 situation rapidly evolves worldwide, many people have asked St Helena Government (SHG) and St Helena Airport Ltd (SHAL) why, as part of our preventive measures in keeping the virus out of the Island, have we not closed the Airport or stopped the weekly flight.
In this article we would like to outline the reasons why St Helena Airport remains open.
The COVID-19 virus pandemic is a significant world event that requires collaborative working to reduce its impact on every community in every part of the world. We have a small population with access to finite health resources and are therefore very reliant on external health and physical resources to support residents and visitors alike. At a time of increasing pressure on the Island’s health services due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that a swift link to the rest of the world is available in order that the Island can be readily supported in its efforts to repel and manage the threat of COVID-19.
Although St Helena has sea access to South Africa, not only is this link subject to unforeseen delays, it does not support the rapid and dynamic response required to counter a threat. It is known at present the MV Helena is going to be around three weeks late, similar delays to its schedule in the coming months are to be expected. As such, the Airport is the only means to get medical supplies, test kits, equipment and people to the Island in an expeditious manner, and therefore it is essential that the Airport remains open to permit this. Closing the Airport would close off this link and could therefore make a difficult and challenging situation even worse by not getting medical care to the population in sufficient time or quantities. It would also end all medevacs from the Island.
As such, it is the intention of SHG and SHAL to keep the Airport ready for operations. This will allow Airport operations, as at present, to be ‘stood up’ for the one incoming commercial flight available to the island.
Keeping the Airport open also allows for the necessary maintenance and calibration regime to remain in place. Vital airport navigation equipment needs to be regularly monitored and maintained, the training of staff is required to maintain their certification and accreditation, and the Airport itself needs to remain open to remain certificated. Accordingly, it is important that even in the face of reduced passenger traffic to and from the Island, that this vital link remains available. Without the option of air access, the Island will not be able to respond to the threat of COVID-19 in an efficient or effective manner.
St Helena Airport is the conduit through which support for the Island’s residents can be maintained during this very challenging period in the Island’s history. As such it will remain open and ready to support the Island’s community.
#StHelena #Coronavirus #COVID-19 #AltogetherHealthier
20 March 2020