July 2, 2020

Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ response to erroneous article by The Fiji Times

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to respond to an article published by The Fiji Times on Friday 29 May, 2020 titled ‘State of COVID-19 cases unclear”.

The article erroneously quoted the Fijian Minister for Health and Medical Services Hon. Dr. Ifereimi Waqainbete’s response to a motion raised by Opposition Member of Parliament Hon. Biman Prasad stating there were nine COVID-19 cases admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

That is incorrect.

In his response to the motion, Hon. Dr. Waqainabete stated that there were 18 COVID-19 cases in Fiji and none were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

From the time the world was waking up to the news of the corona virus outbreak, the Fijian Government has been a step ahead in its preparedness and response.

The Fijian Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services started its response to this global pandemic even before Fiji recorded its first case. The Health Ministry formed an Incident Management Team, a whole of Government approach, which ensured seamless coordination between the government ministries and departments in response to the virus.

The Fijian Government announced a number of measures, from closing the borders and schools to limiting large public gatherings to contain the transmission of the virus. All of these measures were well-planned and targeted towards stopping the local transmission of the virus.

All efforts have been made and synergies between the various arms of the government have been formed to flatten the curve and avoid the pressure on Fiji’s health care system. This was a success that all Fijians should be proud of.

Today marks 41 days after Fiji recorded its last positive COVID-19 case. This is certainly a result of the strong health care capabilities, an effective management of response to this pandemic and broad-based adherence from Fijians to the measures put in place by the Government.

In his statement in Parliament on Wednesday 27 May, Hon. Waqainabete clearly outlined the commitment of the Fijian Government by investing in ICU equipment, consumables and medical supplies, doubling the capacity of the ICU and looking at avenues to ensure patients are treated early to limit ICU demand.

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services is concerned with the lack of accuracy in the article by The Fiji Times that neither reflects what was stated by Hon. Waqainabete nor acknowledges the tireless efforts of the hundreds of frontline workers in containing the spread of the virus.

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services is seeking an apology and retraction of the article.