The Suva and Nausori lockdown was lifted at 4 o’clock this morning and the Suva and Nausori separate containment zones are back which means the border checkpoint is back near the bridge at Rups Nakasi.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says with many high-risk known contacts under quarantine, they can allow the 24-hour curfew for Suva and Nausori to lift at its scheduled close at 4 o’clock this morning, allowing for limited movement in a highly controlled fashion.
Doctor Fong says as is the case for the rest of Viti Levu, the 6pm until 4am curfew will apply for the Suva and Nausori zones from today.
He says supermarkets, banks and pharmacies may open.
Restaurants may offer takeaway and delivery services only.
Doctor Fong says movement should be avoided as much as possible, and mixing between different household bubbles should not happen at all.
Please send only one member of your household outside at any given time.
Do not bring children out of the home.
If you are the member of your household who leaves, wear a mask and wear it properly and maintain a physical distance of two metres from others.
Make sure you have careFiji installed, with Bluetooth turned on.
Wash your hands often. And immediately after you finish your trip to the supermarket, bank, or pharmacy, go straight home.
Doctor Fong says for all non-containment areas, businesses that are not classified as high risk may operate so long as they enforce mask-wearing, physical distancing and require customers and employees to have careFIJI installed with bluetooth turned on.
He says high-risk businesses include gyms, movie theatres, video gaming shops, cyber cafes, taverns, bars, billiard shops and amusement arcades, as well as hairdressers, barbershops, spas, beauty therapy, massage therapy venues, saunas and tattoo parlours.
Doctor Fong says the nature of these businesses means they cannot operate with proper COVID-safe protocols, including enforced physical distancing of two metres.
He stresses they should all be closed everywhere in Fiji.
Four new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed from the Nadali cluster in Nausori after 2,500 tests conducted since Monday.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says these cases are all close contacts of existing cases from the Nadali cluster.
He says due to a steadily rising number of cases, the Health Ministry is concerned that Nadali has become a source of widespread COVID transmission.
They have cordoned off the entire Nadali Area as a screening zone, meaning no one is allowed to leave Nadali until they screen, swab, and clear everyone in the area.
Doctor Fong says those who need to return to the area may do so provided they do not leave.
He also says for every hour of the past four days, the Ministry teams have combed through Suva and Nausori to trace and test primary and secondary contacts of existing cases of COVID-19.
Doctor Fong says they have placed 7,888 contacts in Suva and Nausori under quarantine. This is the largest number of active contacts they have ever identified.
He says identifying them and isolating them ensures that chains of transmission were broken before they could extend, it means clusters were thwarted before they exploded beyond their control.
Doctor Fong says those quiet victories against this invisible enemy were only possible thanks to the public’s cooperation and support through our four days of strict lockdown.
He has thanked the people of Suva and Nausori for their cooperation which has paid real dividends for the health of the nation.
The Permanent Secretary says as a reminder for everyone, these contacts are people who had interactions with individuals who have tested positive for the virus and may have passed it to them.
He says it was important that they find these people so they could test them and ensure they do not pose a wider risk of transmission to our communities.
Doctor Fong says thanks to the use of careFIJI, they found many of the contacts quickly.
He also reveals that others have required more in-depth investigations to find.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says they have more than 11,000 swab results yet to be processed.
He says they are triaging their testing which means they are prioritising the swab results from the highest risk individuals.
Doctor Fong says until they know more, they have 11,000 reasons why we cannot rollback more restrictions.
He says 28 new Genexpert machines are being deployed nationwide.
Assuming they run 24/7, the total testing capacity will rise to at least 3,000 tests per day.
Doctor Fong says while that full capacity gets up and running, they will be sending the backlog of swabs to a private lab in Australia on Thursday, with the results expected by this weekend.
He has thanked the Australian Government for their support in this endeavour.
The Permanent Secretary also says before this outbreak, testing in Fiji had grown to about 250 to 300 per day.
He says before the temporary shutdown of the Fiji Centre for Disease Control over the weekend, they were testing at an average of 1,785 samples per day.
Doctor Fong says relative to our population, that puts our daily testing rate on par with the current rate of testing in Australia and New Zealand which is 1 to 3 per 1000 population per day.
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong says while the case in Labasa is a false positive, it did turn out there was a movement from a containment area in Viti Levu to the Northern Division.
He says this is being investigated.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says we have to at least begin the process of putting forward COVID-safe business plans that manage the risks of resuming operations responsibly.
Doctor Fong says as the COVID test data informs their next steps, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport has announced a system of passes to allow businesses with COVID-safe operations plans to re-open.
He says a digital portal for obtaining passes is in development, the Ministry will announce details within the next two days on how business and employers can apply through that process to operate with the appropriate safeguards in place.
Doctor Fong says they expect to see employers and businesses to put careful thought into COVID-safe operations plans.
He says they want you to re-open, they want you to employ people, because they need your full might behind alleviating the socioeconomic burden of this pandemic but that has to be done in extremely well-managed ways.
He urges businesses not to begin this process with a temporary timeline in mind.
Doctor Fong says “normal” has a new definition.
The Permanent Secretary says the world has adapted to cater for the risks of the coronavirus, so must we.
He cannot promise that the results of the testing will make reopening feasible for everyone in the near-term.
Doctor Fong says we are heading into a new phase, a new normal that the rest of the world has embraced but that we are yet to fully adopt.
He says we have to take careful steps, we have to maintain a constant state of vigilance, we must sustain our commitment to the measures we know can keep us safe and we have to take the onus of containment as a society.
Doctor Fong says this is not from top down, but from the grassroots, where everyday decisions by ordinary Fijians, taken together, can set us down a safer, more sustainable path.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says it has been 30 days since this year’s first local case of COVID-19, and he is telling people now, this outbreak is more serious than anything we have faced before.
Doctor Fong says this will not be a 30-day war.
He says the variant is more transmissible, the clusters of cases are larger and more widespread, and he can sadly promise you that it will not be the last day that they announce new local cases.
Doctor Fong says they may have found thousands of contacts, but it will take many more days of testing to know how many people may be positive and how the containment strategy must evolve in response.
He says they are going to steadily enhance their community surveillance plans, both through mobile teams and stationary clinics.
Doctor Fong says they have likely cases of community transmission in Fiji, that means access to screening and testing at the community level is critical.
He says if new cases come about and future restrictions must come into place, this strengthened network of community surveillance will ensure those measures can be more targeted.
In the meantime, please do not leave your homes unless you need to get food, medicine, or other essential items.
Please don’t only act carefully just because the Health Ministry told you to do so, do it because your life and the lives of those you love depend on it.
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