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This morning, at 0800 Fiji time, WHO’s Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, on advisement of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) over the global outbreak of novel coronavirus. He summarised the recommendations for the prevention of the spread of 2019-nCoV and ensuring a measured and evidenced – based response, in seven key areas:
- No reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with travel and trade.
- We must support countries with weaker health systems.
- Accelerate the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics
- Combat the spread of rumours and misinformation
- Review preparedness plans, identify gaps and evaluate the resources needed to identify, isolate and care for cases and prevent transmission
- Share data, knowledge and experience with WHO in the world
- The only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.
Dr Tedros commended the work and commitment China had shown in its response to the virus and called on all countries to work together, saying, “ We are all in this together and we can only stop it together. This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”
The Government of Fiji is closely monitoring the developments surrounding the 2019-nCoV that is now present in eighteen countries with no deaths outside of China. At present there are no cases of 2019-nCov in Fiji and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services can confirm that the travellers who were under quarantine as a precaution have tested negative for 2019-nCoV and have been cleared.
The Ministry is working closely with relevant border control agencies to implement further enhanced health screenings and treatment guidelines to detect and manage ill passengers traveling to Fiji on direct or connecting flights from affected areas, especially Hubei Province, China, in a concerted effort to rapidly contain the virus. In his statement this morning, WHO DG reiterated “WHO does not recommend limiting trade or movement and calls on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence based and consistent”.
A supplementary health card will shortly be given to all inbound travellers to complete before being allowed into the country. Based on the information they provide in the card, travellers will be advised on what procedures to follow, in addition to taking with them pertinent information on 2019-nCoV and what they can do if they become ill, in the form of a tear-off section.
Entry screening is part of a layered approach used with other public health measures already in place to detect arriving travellers who are sick (such as detection and reporting of ill travellers by airlines and vessels during travel and referral of ill travellers arriving at a port of entry) to slow and reduce the spread of any disease into Fiji.
Fiji is actively monitoring this situation for relevant information from WHO and other credible sources about the outbreak as it evolves.
What can you do?
Whilst we await further information about this new disease, at this time the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to remind the public that staying calm and continuing to practice good hygiene is important in helping to protect them against many diseases.
- Frequently cleaning hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- Avoid non-essential travel to mainland China
- If you have been to China in the last 14 days and develop any of the symptoms (fever, cough or difficulty breathing), immediately contact one of the numbers listed below. If you need to see a doctor please call ahead, using the following phone numbers, before visiting to reduce the risk of infecting other patients.
Central 2219905 Eastern 2219906 Western 2219907 Northern 2219908
The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services is monitoring the developing situation and will provide updates regularly to the public.
For more information on Government events and decisions log onto the official Government portal at www.fiji.gov.fj