Virus forces deferral of 6th Pacific Media Summit

The onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has forced the deferral of the 2020 Sixth Pacific Media Summit in the Solomon Islands.

The biannual event initially scheduled for May 4-8 would have brought together up to 100 media personnel from throughout the region.

But Pacific Islands News Association (P.I.N.A.) President, Kora Nou, said the safety and welfare of their members is important.

“The decision was not taken lightly by the P.I.N.A. Board, however, the safety and well-being of our members remains a high priority for us,” he said. “It is quite unfortunate because preparations were already at an advanced stage and that the World Press Freedom Day would also fall on 3rd May 2020.”

The P.I.N.A. and the Media Association of Solomon Islands (M.A.S.I.) have been in contact in recent weeks to discuss the viability of the May summit, as the global pandemic continues to spread in the region and the world.

Mr Nou said that given a few Pacific countries now have confirmed cases of COVID-19, especially Fiji which is the Pacific’s transport regional hub, the PINA Secretariat will monitor the situation and advise members when the summit is rescheduled. 

Sponsors of the four-day conference in Honiara have also given their assurance that the funding will remain despite its postponement to a later date, he added.

M.A.S.I. President Charles Kadamana said the decision to defer the summit was taken by both PINA and MASI following consultation with local health authorities.

“We also consulted extensively with our Solomon Islands Health department counterparts before reaching this unfortunate but necessary decision,” he said. 

“At the end of the day, our health and wellbeing media workers in the region must take precedence over anything else.”

Journalists Association of Samoa (J.A.W.S.) President, Rudy Bartley, welcomed the decision.

“Like the rest of the world, we all have to take precautions against the coronavirus pandemic. I am pleased they made the decision for the welfare and safety of all delegates who were to attend the summit,” he said.

“We all have a part to play and the role of the media in disseminating the right and accurate information for the protection of our pacific people against the coronavirus. Hopefully by August the conditions would be more favorable for the summit to be held.”

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