COVID-19:Melanesian bubble 'not worth risk' to health

A leading commentator says the discussion and initiatives around a Melanesian Bubble is worrying short of detail and looks like a "black hole".

The economic strains caused by COVID-19 have prompted leaders of the five member countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Vanuatu, to discuss a potential bubble. 

At a leaders' meeting last week in Port Vila, Acting Director of the Secretariat, George Hoa'au, said a Five Point Sustainability Plan was being developed to help ensure members are resilient to the challenges. 

But commentator Elisapeci Waqanivala said that the discussion isn't providing enough details for people to be aware of its real intention.

"I’m worried that there is no mention of safety and security which ought to stand alone. 

"When it stands out, then it gives the assurance and confidence to the people that they are going to be looked after in their own land.”    

Waqanivala said the political situation in Fiji, fears of the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in Papua New Guinea and tensions in West Papua are all contributing factors that makes this Melanesian Bubble more risky.

“Melanesian is trying to forge ahead for these Melanesian Bubble. I believe the people at the bottom end of the rug get to suffer. 

"Will MSG countries sacrifice its population's safety, security and also the Melanesian sub region for economic gains? I couldn’t find an answer to that. I'd like an answer to that.“

Waqanivala believes leaders should take a hint from the current global effect of COVID-19 around the world, and look at this bubble cautiously because people will suffer either way, economically or health wise.