Statement by Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr. James Fong.
Yesterday we recorded four new cases of COVID in Fiji. Two of those cases are in Nadi, one in Lautoka and one in Makoi, Suva. Three of the cases involved persons who attended the funeral that we have identified as a super-spreader event, including a husband and wife who circulated through the community. They were placed in quarantine on Friday, and the Ministry of Health is tracking their movements and contacts for the five days before they went into quarantine.
Regarding the Makoi case, we are not certain of the source of her infection, but the Ministry of Health is busy doing contact tracing to determine who she may have been in contact with before or after she was infected. She and her husband have been placed in quarantine, but prudence requires us to treat this case as a possible community transmission.
Because we cannot yet pin down the movements of these people and identify all their contacts, we are forced to take strict precautionary measures against the possibility that the virus has spread within the Lami- Suva Nausori areas and within the Nadi-Lautoka area. Once we receive further information regarding the Makoi case, there will be appropriate variations to these measures.
We have experienced this situation before, so it should be familiar to everyone. Our purpose is to keep people from circulating unnecessarily. If people don’t move, the virus won’t move.
Beginning at 4:00 a.m. Monday, when the curfew period ends, and for the next 14 days, the greater public will not be allowed in or out of the following containment zones. — -Lami- Suva Nausori areas. For a period of 14 days, we will be closing off exits at the following checkpoints, starting from 4 am tomorrow morning, the 26th of April: beginning from Wainadoi to Tamavua- I- Wai–Tamavua-I- Wai to 8 Miles bridge, — 8 Miles bridge to Logani Village on Kings Road. Similarly, the Nadi-Lautoka will be divided into two zones—Nadi Zone will begin from Momi Junction to Lomolomo Police Post and from Lomolomo Police Post to Nacilau. The current free movement between Lautoka to Nadi will no longer be allowed.
Only persons traveling for medical purposes will be allowed through checkpoints.
All non-essential businesses must remain closed.
Supermarkets and shops selling food and other essential items will remain open so that people can buy these essential items within their respective containment zones. Similar to other essential services, markets will remain open only in and for the respective containment zones. Pharmacies will also remain open. The point is, food and essential goods will remain on the shelves of our shops, markets, and supermarkets. Do not run to the supermarkets and bulk buy goods this afternoon – doing so will crowd these stores and put every shopper at risk.
Restaurants can remain open but only for takeaway and delivery orders within and for the containment zones.
Limited banking services will be available, as will FNPF and FRCS.
Public transportation within the different zones will be available but limited to 50% seating capacity. We have made arrangements through LTA for this to be practically implemented.
Civil service employees will be authorized to work from home at the discretion of their respective Permanent Secretaries
Essential businesses will remain open, as they did during our lockdown period last year. That list includes air and rescue services, air traffic control services, ports services, civil aviation, telecommunication services, food, and sanitary manufacturing plants, electricity services, emergency services, fire services, health, and hospital services, lighthouse services, meteorological services, mine pumping, ventilation and winding, sanitary services, supply and distribution of fuel and gas, power, telecommunications, garbage collection, transport services, water and sewage services, FNPF and FRCS, civil service, private security services, and roading services. If your business is not on this list, close it down.
The ports of Lautoka and Suva will remain open for international freight shipping and inter-island cargo shipping. Any inter-island passenger travel from the ports of Suva, Denarau, Vuda, and Lautoka remain prohibited. We will implement the previous Agriculture Marketing Authority arrangements to get food and produce into the respective containment zones. At all checkpoints, suppliers can arrange with a police driver to ensure that produce still comes into the respective containment zones, and we don’t let the virus escape the containment zones.
Employers in the listed essential businesses need to arrange a permission document for their employees in order to pass through the checkpoints, as was the case during the previous lockdown. Employers should also try and make arrangements for their critical workers to move into the zones for the 14 day period. Please contact 158 to acquire the permission documents which are your passes. The Fiji Police Force will efficiently facilitate responses.
For employees, if there is no branch of your company which you can report to in your containment zones, please contact your employer. For those who cannot attend work at all because of the set-up of the containment zones, they will be able to access 220 dollars a fortnight from their FNPF. If funds are insufficient, the government will top up the accounts.
Even within the respective containment zones, residents are again advised to avoid large social gatherings, particularly indoors.
Stay home. Your interactions should be limited entirely to those already living in your households. If you’re missing a friend or loved one, do the safe thing and call them on the phone. If you need to walk around or exercise you may do so, but wear masks and maintain social distance when you must be out. It is particularly important to download the careFIJI app and keep your phone Bluetooth turned on. And wash your hands regularly. We were approaching the finish line, and we’ve had a setback. Let’s get back on track–together.
We are taking these early measures to prevent the spread of this virus throughout the country. We have done great work together to keep Fiji safe so far, and we have seen how opportunistic this virus is. One small, innocent lapse or a careless attitude to our health measures by one person can start a chain of infection that can spread rapidly and sicken thousands. Fortunately, we have the knowledge, the infrastructure, the people, and the Will to stop it. So I urge all Fijians to keep making this effort. Adhere to these health protocols. These protocols will be implemented and enforced by our health and police officials. These new protocols will be gazetted today.
I’m confident the vast majority of people watching know we cannot afford to lose the war against this virus. I know most Fijians are following and respecting the rules we’ve put in place – but too many still aren’t. So, if you’ve been thinking that this virus isn’t your problem, or that somehow your behavior hasn’t needed to change- get a grip. This virus is here and it is serious. Anyone anywhere could be a carrier. If people follow the government’s directives, we will lock this virus down and win this war. If people don’t, many people will die. It is just that simple.
Report any symptoms you’re feeling as soon as they develop by calling our COVID-19 Call Centre on toll-free number 158. Stop sharing bilos and takis. Stop shaking hands, touching and embracing. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, multiple times a day. But we must take every day one at a time, not as a reason for despair but as an opportunity for containment. Our greatest hope is in the hands of every Fijian; please for the fate of our country and those we love, do what we’ve directed you to do. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.