PRESS RELEASE

06/07/20 | STATEMENT FROM THE ACTING PERMANENT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES

Last Updated on 4 months by Riaz Hassan

Date: 06/07/2020

STATEMENT FROM THE ACTING PERMANENT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES

Bula Vinaka.

Over the past several months, Fijian citizens from around the world have steadily returned home to Fiji through a medically-rigorous system of repatriation. Upon arrival, all returning citizens are required to spend 14 days in a government-funded quarantine facility under RFMF and Ministry of Health and Medical Services supervision where they are checked daily for symptoms. They must then register a negative COVID test result before entering the public.

As this process has unfolded, we’ve been well-prepared for the likelihood of COVID cases developing among repatriating citizens. But as we’ve made clear, Fiji has the infrastructure, surveillance capabilities and local testing capacities to ensure these “quarantine cases” at the border present zero risk to the general public. Mandatory quarantine for all returning travelers was introduced on the 28th of March, with mandatory testing coming into effect on the 23rd of April. Since that time, no returning traveler has entered the public without undergoing the full 14 days of quarantine and clearing a negative COVID test result. All of these quarantine facilities are under constant supervision, with support from the RFMF. No one can leave until they are medically-confirmed as free of the virus –– no exceptions.

On the 4th of July, Ministry of Health and Medical services personnel detected COVIDlike symptoms in a 66-year-old man who returned from India for a medical procedure during day three of his mandatory 14-day quarantine. He was tested and registered a positive COVID-19 test result last night. He has since been securely and hygienically transported to Nadi Hospital, where he is being kept in isolation. He is in stable condition.

His son –– who travelled with him from India –– has also been moved into isolation at Nadi Hospital. The son is not displaying any symptoms. Regardless, we’ve had him
tested with results expected tomorrow. The gentleman and his son arrived in Fiji on the 1st of July. From the moment of their arrival they have remained under careful and constant medical supervision. The gentleman travelled from India on board a flight with 107 other travellers. These other passengers all remain securely in quarantine. As a precaution, all are being tested
for the virus.

Tomorrow marks 80 days since we recorded our 18th case of COVID-19. While this case technically marks case number 19, this is a “border quarantine case” which was
identified and securely contained by our stringent border protection protocols. It carries no risk of entering the community.

This latest case is why we’ve been careful not to label Fiji as “COVID-Free”. We believe –– so long as a nation welcomes back its own citizens –– it cannot reliably claim itself free of the virus. But because Fiji’s strict border protections have functioned as designed, Fiji retains its well-earned status as a COVID-Contained country.

Let this latest case go to show that –– while Fiji may be free of community-based transmission of COVID-19 –– this pandemic is still raging beyond our shores. We don’t expect this to be Fiji’s last border quarantine case of COVID-19. Other countries are reporting similar cases as a matter of course. Rest assured, Fiji has built a wall of strong border controls, strict quarantine surveillance and capable healthcare monitoring between border quarantine cases and Fijian communities.\

Thank you.