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19 September, 2020, 1:25 am Central - 22°C Rain
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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

By fijivillage
Tuesday 17/03/2020

An in-depth read on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, and Fiji's state of preparedness as we deal with the virus reaching our shores.


More than 40 businesses in Nadi have closed down due to COVID-19

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 09/09/2020
Nadi Chamber of Commerce President Dr Ram Raju. [Image: File Photo]

More than 40 businesses in Nadi have closed so far because of COVID-19 while some shops are now getting into businesses like restaurants and hair salons.

Nadi Chamber of Commerce President Dr Ram Raju says they have seen a number of businesses struggling to survive and business activity coming to a standstill in the town towards the afternoons because everything used to revolve around tourism.

He says more businesses are expected to get affected in the future and just about every business which is still operating have either made staff redundant or their staff are on reduced hours.

Raju also says a few of those that have closed have reopened for some other businesses.

He adds not many businesses have been able to get reduced rental because a number of landlords have not been as considerate as they thought they would be.

Raju says this is one of the reasons why businesses have been badly hit.




Drunkards continue to be arrested for breach of curfew

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 07/09/2020

Drunkards continue to be arrested for breach of curfew as 26 cases were registered over the past 48 hours.

Acting Police Commissioner, Rusiate Tudravu says all eleven arrests made in Lautoka involved men who were drunk.

The three arrests made in Nadi involved a 32-year-old man who was drunk and two men who were found moving around in the Nadi area.

In the Southern Division, a man and woman who were found drunk in Valelevu.

A 27-year-old man was found drunk in Savusavu.




Two male Fijian citizens are new COVID-19 border quarantine cases

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 04/09/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr. James Fong says the two arrived in repatriation flight GA7280 from New Delhi to Fiji on the 27th of last month

Two male Fijian citizens are new COVID-19 border quarantine cases.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr. James Fong says the two arrived in repatriation flight GA7280 from New Delhi to Fiji on the 27th of last month.

One is aged 55 and the other is 22. 

This confirmation brings Fiji’s total number of active border quarantine cases to five.

He says both are hygienically secured in the isolation ward at Nadi Hospital.

Dr. Fong says neither were displaying symptoms at that time of testing.

All 83 other passengers on board the flight have returned negative results and they have each been entered into mandatory 14-day quarantine period in a government-designated quarantine facility under supervision from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

Dr. Fong says if any develop symptoms, they will be tested for the virus.

He says the frontline border staff that were directly involved in the arrival of the passengers on this flight have also tested negative for COVID-19.

Dr. Fong adds several New Zealand citizens on board this flight continued onwards travel after spending about 30 minutes on the tarmac of Nadi Airport.

Five of those passengers went on to test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to New Zealand.

He says as per their infection control protocols, all areas of Nadi Airport accessible to passengers from that flight have been hygienically deep-cleaned.




14 new COVID-19 cases in NZ & 5 arrived on the same flight from India via Fiji

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 01/09/2020
Radio NZ reports there are nine cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities. [Image: File Photo]

New Zealand's Ministry of Health has reported 14 new cases of COVID-19, five of them are in the community.

It says two cases are household contacts of previously reported cases, and the other three are all in a household that is linked to an existing case.

Radio NZ reports there are nine cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ), five are in Christchurch, three are in Auckland and one is in Wellington.

They are all in strict quarantine arrangements.

According to Radio NZ, the Christchurch cases are a man in his 20s, a woman in her 30s, two women in their 20s, and a man in his 40s, who all arrived on the same flight from India via Fiji on 27 August.

[Source: Radio NZ]




Police looking into the case of people partying all night along Wailoaloa Beach

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 01/09/2020
Wailoaloa Beach. [Image: FHTA]

Police officers will be speaking to the owner of Bamboo Travellers along Wailoaloa Beach in Nadi after reports of people partying along the beach during the curfew hours which also resulted in a stabbing incident.

Spokesperson, Ana Naisoro says two reports were received and it is believed that a group from Suva was partying after 11 pm last Saturday to 5 am Sunday.

There were two other reports received of alleged serious assault referred from Nadi Hospital and the victims are from Suva. Naisoro says they were from the same group.

One of the stabbing victims is still admitted at the Lautoka Hospital.




New border quarantine COVID-19 case confirmed

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 08/09/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong.

Fiji has a new border quarantine case of COVID-19.

With this new case, Fiji has six active border quarantine cases, all of whom are being treated in isolation at either the Nadi or Lautoka hospitals.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says the latest patient is a 64-year-old female Fijian citizen who arrived on repatriation flight GA7280 from New Delhi, which arrived in Nadi on Thursday, August 27th 2020.

Doctor Fong says as, with all prior border quarantine cases, this patient has been under strict border quarantine conditions since arrival into Nadi.

This includes compulsory 14-day quarantine at a government-designated quarantine facility under supervision from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

She is in stable condition and has been transferred to the isolation ward at the Lautoka Hospital as per standard protocol for confirmed cases.

Doctor Fong says this is the third border quarantine case confirmed among the passengers on board this repatriation flight.

In line with Fiji's infection control protocols, all areas of Nadi Airport accessible to passengers from that flight have been hygienically deep-cleaned.

Doctor Fong says this was overseen by their on-site medical officer and health inspectors.

The frontline border staff that were directly involved in the arrival of the passengers on this flight have also all tested negative for COVID-19.

He says they are diligently enforcing the border quarantine and infection control protocols.

The Acting Permanent Secretary says these border quarantine cases continue to pose zero risks to the health and wellbeing of the Fijian public.

Fijivillage stresses that people need to remain vigilant as COVID-19 cases are at the border quarantine facility in Fiji.

Please do not get complacent.




Nurse tests positive for COVID-19 in border quarantine facility

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 01/09/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

A 25 year old female nurse is a new COVID-19 border quarantine case for Fiji however Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong confirms the nurse was not exposed to the members of the public.

Doctor Fong says this is the first positive case confirmed for the health care staff in Fiji.

He says the nurse contracted the virus while treating one of the border quarantine cases in an isolation unit.

Doctor Fong says Fiji is considering this as a border quarantine case because the nurse never entered the public space after contracting the virus.

As per protocol, she worked and lived in the isolation centre with zero contact with the public.

Doctor Fong says she entered a government quarantine facility without ever interacting with anyone from the public.

After developing symptoms while in quarantine, she was tested.

Doctor Fong says after she returned a positive result for COVID-19, she was re-admitted to the isolation ward to the Nadi Hospital.

She is recovering well.

Her fellow isolation unit nursing colleagues and medical officers on rotation have all returned negative tests.

The Acting Permanent Secretary says out of an abundance of caution even though they never interacted directly with this patient, all relevant front-line health, hotel staff and military personnel have been swabbed for the virus and they have tested negative.

He says around the world, rates of infection among the health care staff are the highest of any group.

In NZ, during the month of April one in ten cases were recorded among the health care workers.

Doctor Fong says even when every protocol is followed, even when personal protective gear is employed properly, this unpredictable virus can still be transmitted.

He says despite more than 3,000 patients held within our quarantine facility, this is the first positive case confirmed amongst the staff working in the isolation facility.

Doctor Fong says given what we have seen around the world, we are quite sure this won’t be the last.

He says this is why they have structured an air tight operation system within our isolation facility to ensure no risk to the general public.

The medical staff work through a roster system whereby they work and live in the facility for 14 days, then go into quarantine in one of the government designated quarantine facility for 14 days. They must then register another negative COVID test before they can rejoin their families.

Doctor Fong says Fiji’s health care staff all operate in appropriate personal protective equipment at all times.

He says there is no shortage of these supplies in Fiji and the staff are well trained on it’s use.

However he says some risks will always remain and they have to remain vigilant.

This is the 11th border quarantine case. Fiji currently has 2 cases in Lautoka and 1 now in Nadi Hospital.

Doctor Fong also says we should not take for granted the exceptional sacrifices these measures demand of our health care staff.

He says there is nothing easy about living and working away from your family for 4 weeks at a time and there is nothing easy about working to save a life while mitigating against the risk of getting infected.

He says Fijians who do so are heroes and they will never surrender.




Fiji receives 277 GeneXpert test kits capable of producing COVID-19 results in 45 minutes

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 08/08/2020
Ministry of Health has received 277 GeneXpert test kits capable of producing accurate COVID-19 results in just 45 minutes

The Ministry of Health has received 277 GeneXpert test kits capable of producing accurate COVID-19 results in just 45 minutes.

These kits contain a total of 2,770 cartridges to test for COVID-19, to further assist the ongoing efforts of the Ministry in testing for the virus accurately and efficiently.

These kits are from Australia, New Zealand, World Health Organization, SPC and UNICEF.

The first two-batches of kits arrived in Fiji in May and, together with this shipment, it brings the total number of test kits supplied to Fiji to 365.




330 students in Arya Pratinidhi Sabha run schools need lunch provided to them as their families have been affected by COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 07/08/2020
[Image: Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji]

The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji says 330 students at 35 of the Sabha run institutions are being assisted because they need lunch as their parents are facing financial difficulties.

Sabha spokesperson Kamlesh Arya says individual school management, their staff and the parent community are assisting the schools.

He adds the Ministry of Education has informed them that about 550 parents of students in Sabha run schools across the country have been subjected to reduced working hours.

The spokesperson says they are unable to say now whether this will lead to an increase in the number of students requiring lunch at school or not.

He says for now they will only be able to assist students in their schools because they have limited funds.

Arya adds they have 5 students in their Bal Ashram who are boarding at the school.

He says these students come from families that are unable to take care of them.

They are spending about $4,000 annually to take care of each child.

He adds the Sabha has a Social Welfare Fund that assists families who need medical assistance or if their home has burnt down.

Families can apply for this assistance.

The Sabha runs 14 primary schools, 6 high schools, the University of Fiji and other training institutions.




23 people arrested for curfew breaches in the last 48 hours

By Faria Begum Ali
Thursday 06/08/2020
Twenty-three people were arrested in the last 48 hours for breaching curfew. [image:Fiji Police Force]

Twenty-three people were arrested in the last 48 hours for breaching curfew.

This includes 4 people who were arrested from Vunato in Lautoka between 11 pm on Tuesday to 4 am yesterday for allegedly throwing stones at a house.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu says another arrest made in Lautoka included a suspect who is also being questioned for a case of an attempted break-in.

He says from Tuesday 11 pm to Wednesday 4 am, thirteen cases were recorded, with the Western Division recording seven cases, the Southern Division recording three cases, the Eastern Division recording two while the Northern Division recorded one case.

Tudravu says ten arrests were made between Wednesday 11 pm to 4 am this morning.

The Western Division recorded four cases, Eastern Division recorded three cases, Southern Division had two cases while the Central Division recorded one case.

Nine of the ten cases involved those who were intoxicated during their time of arrest.



2 drunk couples arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 04/08/2020

12 arrests were made for breach of curfew restrictions in the last 48 hours.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu says between 11pm Sunday to 4am Monday morning, seven arrests were made with the Central Division recording four cases and three cases reported in the Southern Division. He says two couples were found drunk along Reservoir Road.

Tudravu adds a 27-year-old man was found drunk and walking around Samabula, while the other two other cases involved a 29-year-old Chef and a 43-year-old man who were both drunk and walking along Ratu Dovi Road in Nabua.

He says from 11pm last night to 4am this morning, five reports of breach of curfew were recorded with the Southern Division recording four cases while the Western Division recorded one case.

The arrests recorded in the Southern Division included two women who were found drunk in Samabula and two men who were also found drunk in Narere.

He says the lone arrest made in the Western Division involved a 22-year-old man who was found drunk and walking around Namoli Avenue.




Fiji Muslim League providing lunch for over 300 students

By Faria Begum Ali
Monday 03/08/2020
Fiji Muslim League President Hafiz-Ud-Dean Khan. [Image: Fijian Govt]

Fiji Muslim League President Hafiz-Ud-Dean Khan says they have been providing lunch for over 300 students so far since the resumption of schools.

These are the students whose parents have been affected by COVID-19 and have either lost their jobs or are on reduced hours.

Khan says other students are also coming forward to seek assistance.

He adds these students will be helped accordingly.

He says they are only providing meals for students but if there is a need for anything else, they are assisting in that as well.

Earlier on, the League had said that they will not be leaving any student out in terms of proving food or any other form of assistance that is required.

There are currently 22 schools under Fiji Muslim League, 5 of which are High Schools and 17 Primary Schools.





38 people arrested for breach of curfew over the last 48 hours were drunk

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 02/08/2020

Out of the 47 people arrested in the last 48 hours for breach of curfew, 38 were drunk.

12 people were arrested for breach of curfew in the Eastern Division, six arrests were made in the Southern Division, 13 people were arrested in the Western Division, four were arrested in the Northern Division while the Central Division recorded six arrests.

All remain in custody and will be produced in court at the next available court sitting.




66-year-old man who has passed away due to COVID-19 complications to be buried in Lautoka

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 01/08/2020
Lautoka Hospital. [image: file]

The son of the 66-year-old man who has passed away due to COVID-19 complications says his father will be buried in Lautoka and the funeral is expected to take place today.

He says only immediate family members will be attending the funeral.

The son who is in the isolation facility at Lautoka Hospital says his wife, sister and their children have travelled from Vunivau, Labasa to pay their last respects.

He says they have been asked to ensure that only immediate family members are part of the funeral.

The son has also praised the efforts of health officials at Lautoka Hospital. He has told Legend FM News that the doctors and nurses took great care of his father and did their best.

He says his father’s condition deteriorated in the last four days.

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete confirmed yesterday that the man who was a Fijian citizen, had a history of cardiac problems and had returned from India.

He says the man contracted COVID-19 in India and passed away at the Lautoka Hospital.

There are 9 border quarantine cases and since the 20th of July, there have been no new confirmed cases.

Dr Waqainabete also stresses that the virus is not present in Fijian communities.

The Ministry of Health has also revealed that five of the border quarantine cases had undergone treatment in India.


Related Story;

66-year-old man dies in border quarantine facility in Lautoka

By Vijay Narayan

Friday 31/07/2020

A 66-year-old man who was Fiji’s first border quarantine case, has passed away due to COVID-19 complications.

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Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete and Acting Permanent Secretary, Doctor James Fong

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that the man who was a Fijian citizen, had a history of cardiac problems and had returned from India.

Dr. Waqainabete says the man contracted COVID-19 in India and passed away at the Lautoka Hospital.

He says there are 9 border quarantine cases and since the 20th of July, there have been no new confirmed cases.

Dr Waqainabete also stresses that the virus is not present in Fijian communities.

He also says this once again shows that the vulnerable are most at risk from the virus.

Meanwhile Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says the man was isolated early and the public remains safe.

Doctor Fong says 5 of the border quarantine cases had undergone treatment in India.

He also says that the remaining COVID-19 cases in the country are currently in stable condition.

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that the man who was a Fijian citizen, had a history of cardiac problems and had returned from India.

Dr. Waqainabete says the man contracted COVID-19 in India and passed away at the Lautoka Hospital.

He says there are 9 border quarantine cases and since the 20th of July, there have been no new confirmed cases.

Dr Waqainabete also stresses that the virus is not present in Fijian communities.

He also says this once again shows that the vulnerable are most at risk from the virus.

Meanwhile Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says the man was isolated early and the public remains safe.

Doctor Fong says 5 of the border quarantine cases had undergone treatment in India.

He also says that the remaining COVID-19 cases in the country are currently in stable condition.




AG stresses the importance of CareFiji app

By Tifa Vataiki
Tuesday 04/08/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has highlighted that to date, Fiji only has 10 percent of careFiji app downloads.

Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this while distributing biomass stoves to the women of Kalokolevu Village.

He also stressed the importance of downloading the careFiji app saying that Australia has 40 percent of downloads to date.

Sayed-Khaiyum says after the announcement made by the Prime Minister to open the country for travel, visitors will want to see that we have a careFiji app as they will be contacted if there is a coronavirus case.




2 drunk couples arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 04/08/2020

12 arrests were made for breach of curfew restrictions in the last 48 hours.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu says between 11pm Sunday to 4am Monday morning, seven arrests were made with the Central Division recording four cases and three cases reported in the Southern Division. He says two couples were found drunk along Reservoir Road.

Tudravu adds a 27-year-old man was found drunk and walking around Samabula, while the other two other cases involved a 29-year-old Chef and a 43-year-old man who were both drunk and walking along Ratu Dovi Road in Nabua.

He says from 11pm last night to 4am this morning, five reports of breach of curfew were recorded with the Southern Division recording four cases while the Western Division recorded one case.

The arrests recorded in the Southern Division included two women who were found drunk in Samabula and two men who were also found drunk in Narere.

He says the lone arrest made in the Western Division involved a 22-year-old man who was found drunk and walking around Namoli Avenue.




5 curfew breaches in the last 48 hours

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 30/07/2020

Five reports for breach of curfew was recorded in the last 48-hours.

Three arrests were made in the Northern Division.

Two farmers were found drunk in the Nabouwalu area of operation while a 32 year old man was arrested after returning from a grog session between in Labasa.

A 20- year old man was found loitering in the Tuirara area in Nasinu while the lone case in the Western Division involved a 24- year old man who was found drunk in Vadravadra, Ba.




People who have health issues may be allowed to quarantine in their own homes - Dr Waqainabete

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 29/07/2020
Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete and SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya.

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has stressed that people who have returned from abroad can be given permission to quarantine in their own homes if they are deemed unfit to stay in a government designated quarantine facility.

This is after SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya raised concerns in parliament that some military officers were seen providing quarantine monitoring at homes in the Suva area.

Waqainabete says no one is exempted from quarantine but there may be some who come back sick or after having their treatment and staying in government designated facilities may be inappropriate for them.

Waqainabete has assured people that the protocols in place are water tight which is why there has not been a single case of community transmission of COVID-19 so far.

He says upon arrival in the country, an assessment is made by the Incident Management COVID-19 Team and the disciplined forces whether it is fine for them to quarantine in their own homes.

Waqainabete says the disciplined forces will provide quarantine enforcement around them until they complete their quarantine period.





All passengers of Fiji Link are to show the careFiji app on their personal devices at check-in

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/07/2020

Fiji Link will now require all passengers to show the careFiji app on their personal devices at check-in as part of their Travel Ready programme.

The careFiji app registration is now required for domestic passengers to assist contact tracing efforts by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen says for a family or group travelling and checking in together, one device with the careFiji app is adequate.

Fiji Link staff will also update a manual contact tracing form with details of customers without smartphones or unaccompanied minors.

Viljoen says the careFiji app is very much a part of our ‘new normal’ in a COVID-world.

He says both Fiji Airways and Fiji Link will continue to play a leading role in its rollout, in close consultation with Fijian authorities and as part of our Travel Ready programme.

Fiji Link has assured customers that use of any information on its manual contact tracing form will be governed by the Fiji Airways Group’s Privacy Policy.




9,000 applications received for the concessional loan

By Iva Danford
Thursday 23/07/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has confirmed that they have received more than 9,000 applications on the Micro Small Medium Business concessional loan funding.

Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this at the Post 2020-2021 Budget Forum Question and Answer Session organized by the Fiji-Australia Business Council and the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council.

He says that a total of $60 million has been allocated for these loans, where $30 million has been allocated in this financial year and another $30 million in the 2020-2021 National Budget.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they are providing up to $7,000 for the existing and new micro-enterprises applications and up to $14,000 to $21,000 for existing small and medium enterprises.

He says in the 2020-2021 budget they have allocated $100 million for unemployment benefit.

Sayed-Khaiyum says from this, $5 million will be for re-training and re-skilling people.




People that don't have the careFiji app are irresponsible - AG

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 23/07/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says it is concerning that only about 50,000 people in the country have downloaded the careFiji app so far.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the level of apprehension by the people in not understanding the big picture is quite surprising.

He says what people don't realize is that when Australia and New Zealand will look at Fiji's measures to trace COVID-19, they will look at how many people have downloaded the app.

Sayed-Khaiyum adds this is a national effort and all those that do not have the app are being very irresponsible.

Sayed-Khaiyum says people also need to understand that downloading the careFiji app is not just about protecting their families but also about sending the right economic signal to people who wish to come to Fiji.

He says this will lead to economic growth and more job opportunities for people in the process.




Juvenile arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 22/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

A juvenile was arrested for breach of curfew as he was found with eight others loitering in the Muslim League area in Nabua .

A total of 13 people were arrested for breaching curfew orders.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says a 29- year old man was found drunk in the Samabula area.

Qiliho says a taxi driver and two students in their 20s were all found in Suva without a valid reason.




Fiji nationals who allegedly breached India’s lockdown guidelines cleared to return home

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 22/07/2020
[Photo: Hindustan Times]

The 13 Fijians who were charged for violating the Indian government’s lockdown guidelines in March have been cleared and will be returning to Fiji soon.

This has been confirmed by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yogesh Karan who says their passports have been returned to them and the High Commission is now working on an available flight to bring them back home.

These Fiji nationals were among 91 foreigners from 21 countries that were granted bail earlier this month by a court in New Delhi in India for attending a congregation at the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizamuddin.

The Hindustan Times reported that the 91 foreigners were also charged for violating visa conditions and indulging in missionary activities illegally.

Thousands of people participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin in March and later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country. It has become one of India’s largest COVID-19 clusters.




Ten people arrested for breaching curfew over the last 48 hours as drunk people continue to breach curfew

By Faria Begum Ali
Tuesday 21/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Ten people were arrested in the last 48 hours for the breach of curfew.

Two were arrested from the Western and Southern Divisions between Sunday and Monday morning.

Eight people were arrested in the last 24 hours with the Western Division recording five cases, South recorded two cases while the Eastern Division recorded one case.

Drunk people continue to be arrested for breaching curfew as three out of the five arrests made in the western division for breaching curfew were found drunk and being disorderly.

A 52-year-old farmer who is included in the 5 arrests made from the western division is also charged with trespass.

The fifth arrest was made in Nadi involving a 24year old man who was found walking along the Kerebula tram line.




15 arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 19/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Fifteen people were arrested for breach of curfew last night. Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says of the ten people that were arrested in the Southern Division, five were found drunk and moving around during curfew hours.

He says two men were arrested in Lautoka as they were drunk and found walking along Tavakubu Road.

In the Eastern Division, two men were also found drunk and out in public.

Qiliho says a man was found drunk and walking along Rewa Street.




PM confirms Fiji's 'Blue Lanes' are officially open with superyachts berthed today at Port Denarau

By Iva Danford
Friday 17/07/2020
Port Denarau Marina. [image: Voreqe Bainimarama/Twitter]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that Fiji's "Blue Lanes" are officially open with the first vessel berthed today at Port Denarau Marina.

Bainimarama tweeted “Our first vessel berthed today at Port Denarau Marina, and more than 100 other yachts, superyachts, and pleasure craft –– and the immense economic impact they carry aboard – follow in its wake.”

Bainimarama added ‘Quarantine at sea, and come to Fiji.’

The first yachts are from New Zealand and is part of the safe ‘Blue Lanes’ provision under the COVID-safe Economic Recovery Framework.

The Prime Minister announced on 21st June 2020, that we have now adopted “Phase 2” of Fiji’s COVID Safe Economic Recovery.

The Fijian COVID Safe Economic Recovery Framework outlines a three phased approach to a “COVID-Safe Economic Recovery” and is based on the core principles of stopping importation of the virus, ensuring health system readiness, and COVID-proofing Fijian businesses and society at-large.




Man who breached curfew faces an additional charge of attempted break-in

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 17/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

A taxi driver was arrested for breach of curfew after he failed to give officers a valid reason and documentation for driving around during curfew hours in the Eastern Division while a 48-year-old man was found drunk in Tamavua and also faces an additional charge of attempted break-in.

A total of 4 people were arrested for breaching nation-wide curfew hours.

A 32-year-old man who was found intoxicated and walking along the Nausori Bridge.

In the Northern Division, a 37 -year old man was found drunk in Labasa Town.




Health Budget expected to focus on COVID-19 and continuing high-quality medical services

By Semi Turaga
Friday 17/07/2020
[Photo: Fijian Government]

The 2020/2021 National Budget is expected to continue to focus on the strengthening of the capacity of doctors and nurses to combat COVID-19 and keep themselves and Fijian families safe.

Another 40 million dollars was allocated in the 2019/2020 COVID-19 Response Budget to enhance the health system’s capacity to respond to the pandemic.

This was on top of the 349.8 million dollars allocated to the health sector in the 2019/2020 financial year.

The 2020/2021 National Budget is also expected to focus on continuing to ensure high-quality medical services and health education reaches every Fijian community, no matter how remote.

$34.7 million was allocated to the Health Ministry for capital expenditure in the 2019/2020 National Budget.

This includes the continuing extension of the CWM Hospital Maternity Unit.

Construction of the CWM Hospital Maternity Unit started in 2018.

7.5 million dollars was also allocated to upgrade the Keiyasi Health Centre into a Sub-Divisional Hospital to meet the demand for health services in light of the increased population there.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that this project is nearing completion.

More than 31,000 people are currently benefitting from the Free Medicine Program and this is also expected to continue.

This program which got funding of 23.7 million dollars in this financial year assists Fijians with an annual income below $20,000.




Police abide by COVID-19 restrictions and split passout parades into divisions

By Tifa Vataiki
Thursday 16/07/2020
Minister of Defense Inia Seruiratu the Fiji Police Force passout parade. [image: Fiji police]

The Fiji Police Force has split its passout parades into divisions because of COVID restrictions for the first time ever.

The Central division pass-out parade at the Nasova police grounds saw 103 new graduates receive certificates for completing the Basic Recruitment Course. 11 officers received Long service medals and also overseas service medals.

Minister of Defense Inia Seruiratu reminded the graduates that policing is difficult if they don't have the support and cooperation of the communities.

Seruiratu says since the first case of COVID-19, Fijians of all walks of life have shown how they cared for the Police by digging deep into their pockets and finding ways to delivering meals to officers at checkpoints.

He says without their efforts there will be no national security which will then hinder economic security.




Further quarantine is not required once a person tests negative for COVID-19 after 14 days of quarantine at govt facility – Dr. Waqainabete

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 15/07/2020
Minister for Health Dr, Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Dr, Ifereimi Waqainabete confirms that once a person tests negative for COVID-19 after 14 days of quarantine at the government facility, he or she will not be required for any further quarantine.

He made this comment after some people contacted Fijivillage and advised us that the soldiers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces who returned from Egypt last month and got cleared from government quarantine facility over the weekend have been spotted at various places including banks.

Dr. Waqainabete says there should not be any concern regarding this as anyone returning from overseas is tested for COVID-19 upon their return and after they finish their 14 days quarantine at the government facility.




5 drunkards arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 15/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

5 people arrested for breach of curfew were drunk at the time of their arrest.

A total of 6 people were arrested last night.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says four people were found drunk along the Ratu Mara Road in Nabua while a man in his 20's was found walking along Samabula.

Qiliho says a 49-year-old man was found drunk in Suva.




Fiji Airways extends international flight cancellations through to the end of August

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 15/07/2020
[Photo: Fiji Airways]

Fiji Airways has extended international flight cancellations through to the end of August.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen says the continued cancellations are due to prolonged border closures and travel restrictions as a consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

He says while the current international schedule for August is cancelled, the airline is preparing a new network plan which will be announced once border restrictions ease.

Viljoen further says the cancellation of August services allows them to prepare and position a new updated international schedule for deployment as soon as practical.

CEO-Air

He adds they are encouraged by the recent move to ‘Phase 2’ for Fiji in its response to COVID-19, as well as a travel framework which allows for the creation of specific ‘air corridors’ with certain countries.

Viljoen says one such corridor under the framework is the ‘Bula Bubble with Fiji’s traditional markets - Australia and New Zealand adding this framework provides a clear path forward for the two countries to seriously consider opening borders to Fiji, thereby stimulating travel demand.

He says Fiji Airways is leading an Industry Taskforce alongside the Fijian health authorities to satisfy all requirements for safe international flying under the Government’s framework.

Viljoen adds that a new network plan for international services will see reduced flying and limited destinations internationally, as the world reels from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says they are contacting impacted guests who are booked to travel in August.




4 fishermen arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 13/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Four fishermen were arrested for breach of curfew as they were found loitering at Waitavala, Taveuni.

A total of 8 arrests were made last night.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Central Division recorded four cases where three people were found loitering at Rewa Street in Suva while a 55-year-old man was also arrested in Suva for driving a taxi without a valid reason.

The Eastern and the Western Division recorded nil cases.




3 juveniles allegedly found drunk and in possession of illicit drugs during curfew hours

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 12/07/2020

19 cases of curfew breaches were recorded in the last 24 hours including three juveniles of which two were allegedly found drunk and in possession of illicit drugs believed to be marijuana.

The other case involved a 17-year-old who was found loitering in Samabula.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says all these cases were recorded in the Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.

Seven other people were arrested in the Southern Division for curfew breaches. A 22-year-old man was found walking in Vatuwaqa together with a 20-year-old man who was allegedly found with twelve sachets of dried leaves believed to be marijuana.

Four men were found drunk in Samabula.

The Western Division recorded five cases including three people who were found loitering in Nadi and Ba while two others were found drunk in Namotomoto, Nadi.

Three people were arrested after found loitering along the Rewa Street.

The lone case in the North involved a 38-year-old man who was found drunk in Savusavu.



Fiji nationals who allegedly breached India’s lockdown guidelines granted bail

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 09/07/2020
[Photo: Hindustan Times]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yogesh Karan has confirmed that they are liaising with the government of India about the Fiji nationals that have been charged for violating the Indian government's lockdown guidelines in March.

These Fiji nationals are among 91 foreigners from 21 countries that have been granted bail by a court in New Delhi in India for attending a congregation at the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizamuddin.

The Hindustan Times reports that the 91 foreigners are also charged for violating visa conditions and indulging in missionary activities illegally.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur granted bail to the accused persons on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each.

The Hindustan Times reports the foreigners who got bail came from Afghanistan, Brazil, China, the USA, Ukraine, Australia, Egypt, Russia, Algeria, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, France, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia, UK, Fiji, Sudan, Philippines, and Ethiopia.

All the foreign nationals are staying at a hotel and were produced before the court through video conferencing.

Thousands of people participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin in March and later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country. It has become one of India’s largest COVID-19 clusters.




New COVID-19 case in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan, Faria Begum Ali
Monday 06/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong has confirmed that Fiji has recorded a new case of COVID-19.

It has been confirmed that the 66-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday after returning from India last Wednesday. 

The man’s son has also been tested and Doctor Fong says the result will be out tomorrow.

Doctor Fong says the man and his son have been transferred from the health quarantine facility to Nadi Hospital.

The man had travelled back from India on a repatriation flight carrying 107 passengers.

The other passengers also remain in quarantine.

They have all been tested and the Health Ministry is awaiting the results.

Doctor Fong says none of the COVID-19 health guidelines have changed as it is a border quarantine case and it does not pose a risk to the community.




2 new border quarantine cases in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 07/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

2 new border quarantine cases of COVID-19 have been announced today by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong.

Doctor Fong says both are Fijian citizens who were repatriated from India on July 1st.

He says one is the 37-year-old son of the 1st border quarantine case that was announced yesterday while the second is a 36-year-old female.

Doctor Fong says the woman had been in Chennai, India where she accompanied her husband who was undergoing treatment for some medical condition.

The 37-year-old man and his 66-year-old father have been transferred from Nadi to Lautoka Hospital as the father has some pre-existing medical conditions and he is of an advanced aged. Doctor Fong says this is a precautionary measure.

The woman is in a stable condition and she has been transferred along with her husband to the Nadi Isolation Facility. Her husband will be tested today and the Health Ministry will get the result tomorrow.

All remaining 105 passengers will be tested tomorrow and by the end of business tomorrow, the results will be confirmed.

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health also stresses that all the people that were on the plane from India have been in the government quarantine facility.

Doctor Fong says today marks 80 days since Fiji’s last case outside a border quarantine facility.

He says the cases of COVID-19 are accelerating worldwide including in India.

Doctor Fong stresses that Fiji has never closed the borders to our own citizens, and more than 3,000 returning citizens have safely gone back to the community after going through the required quarantine guidelines strictly supervised by health officials and the RFMF.


Doctor Fong says we cannot turn our back to our own people, and as long as the border quarantine guidelines are followed, there is no risk of community transmission.

  



Acting PS for Health to hold a press conference this afternoon in relation to COVID-19

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 07/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary of Health, Dr. James Fong. [image: Fijian Govt]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong will hold a press conference this afternoon in relation to COVID-19.

Stay with us for the important announcement.

You can also follow us on our website, fijivillage.com for the live coverage




Most people arrested for breaching curfew regulations were drunk

By Faria Begum Ali
Saturday 11/07/2020

Most people arrested for allegedly breaching curfew regulations last night were drunk.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says 39 people were arrested for loitering in public places.

The Western Division recorded sixteen arrests including eight people who were found drunk. Seven were arrested from inside a billiard shop while a security officer was arrested in Nadi Town.

A juvenile was part of the 10 arrests made in the Eastern Division as he was found with three others during curfew hours in Nausori Town.

Eight cases were recorded in the Southern Division which includes five people who were found drunk in Valelevu, Kinoya, Vatuwaqa, and Navua.

Three people were found drunk in Labasa Town.

Two people were arrested in the Central Division. Both were also drunk.




Five new COVID-19 cases

By Semi Turaga
Friday 10/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]
  • Five new COVID-19 cases.
  • This means there have 8 border quarantine cases since 6th July 2020.
  • All cases in stable condition.
  • Only one of the cases having mild symptoms.
  • All transferred to hospital quarantine facilities.
  • Support staff in these hospital quarantine facilities are also being tested Doctor Fong says the 14-day requirement for quarantine still applies and there have been no exemptions.

There are five new border quarantine cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says these cases have been confirmed after the test results of the rest of the 105 passengers from the repatriation flight from India came back.

The five new COVID-19 cases are a 44-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman, a 51-year-old man, a 29-year-old woman, and a 47-year-old man.

Doctor Fong says one of them is the husband of a border quarantine case that was announced earlier.

He says all patients are in stable condition and only one has been having mild symptoms but is quite well and is considered among the stable cases.

All patients have been securely transferred to hospital isolation facilities in Nadi and Lautoka.

He says this brings us to a total of 8 border quarantine cases announced since 6th July 2020.

Doctor Fong says all the 8 COVID-19 cases are repatriated Fiji citizens arriving from the same flight from India that landed in Nadi on July 1st.

He says all the passengers on the flight have been kept under strict border quarantine control conditions from the moment they arrived including in government-designated facilities where they were supervised by RFMF officers and screened everyday by Health Ministry staff.

Doctor Fong has again emphasized that so long as our border quarantine and infection prevention control protocols are upheld there is no risk to the Fijian public from this latest border quarantine cases.

He says the protocols to prevent transmission between the latest border quarantine cases and the support staff in the quarantine facilities have been upheld and there has been no breach.

Doctor Fong says as an additional precaution, support staff in these facilities are being tested for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Doctor Fong says the RFMF personnel that arrived in Fiji on 27th June will complete their 14-day quarantine in a government-designated facility this weekend.





Important COVID-19 announcement by the Health Ministry at 3pm

By Semi Turaga
Friday 10/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong will hold a press conference at 3 o’clock this afternoon in relation to COVID-19.

Stay with us for the important announcement.

You can also follow us on our website, fijivillage.com for the live coverage




Dr. Waqainabete clarifies couple were tested before being released from quarantine

By Naveel Krishant, Tifa Vataiki
Thursday 09/07/2020
Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has today clarified that the couple who had returned from New Zealand in April and had claimed that they were released early from quarantine were tested before they moved out of the quarantine facility and they were tested after they moved out and all tests had returned negative.

Dr. Waqainabete says that the case was in April rather than May. The Health Minister further says that no one is exempt from quarantine.

He says if anyone is moved from a quarantine facility to another, they have to follow the quarantine guidelines in place and the quarantine period has to be met.

The Fiji Sun has reported today that the couple said they were released from quarantine after they asked a doctor and a military officer that they had a disabled son at home and that is why they rushed from New Zealand.

According to the couple, their son was with relatives.

They say that they had completed 8 days in quarantine and 20 days at their home adding they were given conditions to follow under home quarantine and they were visited by medical officials.




Breach of curfew arrests last night linked to alcohol or grog

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 09/07/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

All ten breach of curfew arrests last night were related to alcohol or grog.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 5 cases where all those arrested were found drunk including two people who were travelling in a vehicle without a drivers license.

He says the Eastern Division recorded two cases whereby both men in their 30's were found when returning from drinking grog at Davuilevu.

The lone case in the Northern Division involved a 30 year old farmer of Somosomo, Taveuni who was found drunk.

The Western Division recorded two cases where two men in their 20's were found in Lautoka as they were returning from drinking grog.




PM confirms 115,000 Fijians have lost their jobs or have had their hours cut as a result of COVID-19

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 09/07/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that 115,000 Fijians or one third of the Fijian workforce have lost their jobs or have had their hours cut as a result of COVID-19.

While speaking via video conference at the International Labor Organization’s Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, Bainimarama says COVID-19 is clearly the job killer of the century.

Bainimarama says he has met with many of these employees, listened to their stories behind the staggering statics.

He says if we stand any hope of stemming losses in employment in millions rather than billions, they need to act fast to rally to the aid of the most vulnerable.

Bainimarama adds Fiji is a COVID-19 contained country with no cases outside of quarantine facilities in over 80 days.

The Prime Minister further says even with our outbreak in Fiji ended and the global epicentre of the pandemic moving westward, the burden the Fijian people carry on their backs has not shifted an inch or lost a gram.

Bainimarama says that in many ways COVID-19 is deepening the very same inequalities exposed by climate change adding that neither climate change nor COVID-19 can be treated with over the counter cure-alls as both require prescriptive solutions including urgent solutions to adapt societies along with larger longer term shifts in the world economy.




Fiji nationals who allegedly breached India’s lockdown guidelines granted bail

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 09/07/2020
[Photo: Hindustan Times]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yogesh Karan has confirmed that they are liaising with the government of India about the Fiji nationals that have been charged for violating the Indian government's lockdown guidelines in March.

These Fiji nationals are among 91 foreigners from 21 countries that have been granted bail by a court in New Delhi in India for attending a congregation at the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizamuddin.

The Hindustan Times reports that the 91 foreigners are also charged for violating visa conditions and indulging in missionary activities illegally.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur granted bail to the accused persons on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each.

The Hindustan Times reports the foreigners who got bail came from Afghanistan, Brazil, China, the USA, Ukraine, Australia, Egypt, Russia, Algeria, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, France, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia, UK, Fiji, Sudan, Philippines, and Ethiopia.

All the foreign nationals are staying at a hotel and were produced before the court through video conferencing.

Thousands of people participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin in March and later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country. It has become one of India’s largest COVID-19 clusters.




Stringent measures in place to monitor people working in quarantine facilities – Dr Waqainabete

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 08/07/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete.

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has assured the people of Fiji that all the health officials, hotel staff and members of the RFMF who look after people that are quarantined in the health facilities are monitored.

When questioned by Fijivillage as to how the hotel workers who work in quarantine facilities and go in and out of the property are monitored, Dr. Waqainabete says there are stringent COVID-19 measures in place on how they protect the hotel staff and how they are working within the confines of what they believe is good infection control to prevent them from being infected.

The Health Minister says this has been happening from the start as hotels were used as quarantine facilities.

Dr. Waqainabete adds in the quarantine facilities they always work with the premise that everyone that returns has COVID-19 and based on that, they ensure that measures are in place to protect the workers.

He says they have lifted some restrictions so that people can return to some form of normalcy as it is important to have economic activity, people can go to work, children can return to school and to ensure that businesses can open.

The Health Minister further says the new normal is asking to have behavioral change and this is important to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.

He says that we have to be assured that the mechanisms placed by the government at the borders has worked so far.

Meamnwhile the test results of the 105 passengers from India will be known today.




Six curfew breaches in the last 24hrs

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 08/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

A total of six cases were recorded over the last 24 hours for curfew breaches.

Five cases were recorded for loitering at the Valelevu, Narere, and the Muanikoso area in Nasinu.

The only case in the Central Division involved a 24-year-old man who was found drunk in Toorak in Suva.




2 new border quarantine cases in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 07/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

2 new border quarantine cases of COVID-19 have been announced today by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong.

Doctor Fong says both are Fijian citizens who were repatriated from India on July 1st.

He says one is the 37-year-old son of the 1st border quarantine case that was announced yesterday while the second is a 36-year-old female.

Doctor Fong says the woman had been in Chennai, India where she accompanied her husband who was undergoing treatment for some medical condition.

The 37-year-old man and his 66-year-old father have been transferred from Nadi to Lautoka Hospital as the father has some pre-existing medical conditions and he is of an advanced aged. Doctor Fong says this is a precautionary measure.

The woman is in a stable condition and she has been transferred along with her husband to the Nadi Isolation Facility. Her husband will be tested today and the Health Ministry will get the result tomorrow.

All remaining 105 passengers will be tested tomorrow and by the end of business tomorrow, the results will be confirmed.

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health also stresses that all the people that were on the plane from India have been in the government quarantine facility.

Doctor Fong says today marks 80 days since Fiji’s last case outside a border quarantine facility.

He says the cases of COVID-19 are accelerating worldwide including in India.

Doctor Fong stresses that Fiji has never closed the borders to our own citizens, and more than 3,000 returning citizens have safely gone back to the community after going through the required quarantine guidelines strictly supervised by health officials and the RFMF.


Doctor Fong says we cannot turn our back to our own people, and as long as the border quarantine guidelines are followed, there is no risk of community transmission.

  



Acting PS for Health to hold a press conference this afternoon in relation to COVID-19

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 07/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary of Health, Dr. James Fong. [image: Fijian Govt]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr. James Fong will hold a press conference this afternoon in relation to COVID-19.

Stay with us for the important announcement.

You can also follow us on our website, fijivillage.com for the live coverage




Fishing vessel carrying a dead crew member stuck at sea

By Iva Danford
Monday 06/07/2020

A Chinese fishing vessel which has been carrying a dead crew member from May this year is stuck out at sea.

An agent of the vessel has told LegendFM News that the vessel was out from November last year and was due to return two months ago.

He says they were told that because of the health restrictions, they were not allowed into Fijian waters.

The agent says there are about 30 crew members on board the vessel.

We have also received confirmation that police have not received any report on the status of the vessel and crew members.

Stay with us for developments.




New COVID-19 case does not pose a risk to the community – Dr Fong

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 06/07/2020
The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says the 66-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from India does not pose any threat to the wider community as he was in a health quarantine facility after he arrived in Fiji.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has tweeted that Fiji has confirmed a border case of COVID-19 among a returning citizen while he was securely in the confines of the government-funded quarantine. Bainimarama says thanks to the multilayered, RFMF-backed border protections, this case presents zero risk to the public.

Dr Fong has also given an assurance that there is no need to place stringent measures in relation to the COVID-19 restrictions as this is a border quarantine case.

Doctor Fong says the man and his son have been transferred from the health quarantine facility to Nadi Hospital.

The man had travelled back from India on a repatriation flight carrying 107 passengers.

The Head of Health Protection, Dr. Aalisha Sahukhan says the 66-year-old including other passengers in the flight were tested 4 days prior to boarding the flight in India.

The other passengers remain in quarantine.

Dr Sahukhan explained that they are being assisted by RFMF and Police Officers to ensure that no one breaches quarantine restrictions.

The man tested positive on Saturday for COVID-19 after returning from India last Wednesday.

The man’s son has also been tested and Doctor Fong says the result will be out tomorrow.

All the passengers have been tested and the Health Ministry is awaiting the results.

Earlier: 


New COVID-19 case in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan, Faria Begum Ali
Monday 06/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong has confirmed that Fiji has recorded a new case of COVID-19.

It has been confirmed that the 66-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday after returning from India last Wednesday. 

The man’s son has also been tested and Doctor Fong says the result will be out tomorrow.

Doctor Fong says the man and his son have been transferred from the health quarantine facility to Nadi Hospital.

The man had travelled back from India on a repatriation flight carrying 107 passengers.

The other passengers also remain in quarantine.

They have all been tested and the Health Ministry is awaiting the results.

Doctor Fong says none of the COVID-19 health guidelines have changed as it is a border quarantine case and it does not pose a risk to the community.







New COVID-19 case in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan, Faria Begum Ali
Monday 06/07/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Dr. James Fong. [Image: Fijian Government]

The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong has confirmed that Fiji has recorded a new case of COVID-19.

It has been confirmed that the 66-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday after returning from India last Wednesday. 

The man’s son has also been tested and Doctor Fong says the result will be out tomorrow.

Doctor Fong says the man and his son have been transferred from the health quarantine facility to Nadi Hospital.

The man had travelled back from India on a repatriation flight carrying 107 passengers.

The other passengers also remain in quarantine.

They have all been tested and the Health Ministry is awaiting the results.

Doctor Fong says none of the COVID-19 health guidelines have changed as it is a border quarantine case and it does not pose a risk to the community.





Ministry of Health to have a press conference soon

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 06/07/2020

The Ministry of Health will have a press conference soon.

Stay with us for the important announcement.




6 people arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 06/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

6 people were arrested for curfew breaches last night.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says in the Southern Division two people were found drunk and loitering in Tacirua and Nabua.

A 47-year-old man was found travelling in a vehicle without a valid reason.

Qiliho says the Western Division recorded two cases whereby two people were found loitering in the Nadi Town area.

He says in the Eastern Division, a drunk 21-year-old man was arrested in Nakasi.




37 curfew breaches last night with most found drunk in public places

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 04/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

37 people were arrested for breaching the curfew last night and 19 of those arrested were allegedly found drunk in public places.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Eastern Division recorded ten cases including eight people who were all found drunk in the Naimasimasi, Nausori, Lokia, and Wainibuku area.

Two men were also found allegedly loitering in the Lokia area in Rewa.

Eleven alcohol-related curfew breaches were made in the Narere, Kinoya, and Vatuwaqa area.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested while returning from drinking kava in Navua while and a 25-year-old man also from Navua was found driving during curfew hours.

Police also say a 24-year-old farmer of the Calia area in Sawani was arrested for loitering while two men in their 30's were found walking along the Vatuwaqa area.

The Western Division recorded eight cases including four men who were found loitering in the Ba area.

Two men in their 30s were found drunk in Navosa and Ba area while a 23-year-old woman from the Nadroga area was also found intoxicated.

A 28-year-old man was found loitering in the Nadi area.




Regional USP student fined $100 for breach of curfew

By Pratika Mala
Friday 03/07/2020

A 20-year-old USP student has been fined $100 for breaching curfew.

First-year Electrical Engineering student from Kiribati, Kata Kua, appeared before Suva Magistrate Waleen George this afternoon.

Kua was found running along a street in Vatuwaqa at 12.45am yesterday.

The court was told Kua was at a friend's house drinking alcohol and was returning to USP campus where he lives.

The court was told he was drunk at the time and does not recall the incidents of the night.

Magistrate George told the Kua he should have stayed at his friend's house till curfew was over.

She told him he really needs to make sure he maintains good behavior being a Government-sponsored student studying in another country.

If Kua pays the fine within three months and he won't be convicted.

The case has been adjourned till 5th October however Kua will not have to attend court if the fine is paid within the given time frame.




Five breach of curfew cases in the last 24hrs

By Semi Turaga
Friday 03/07/2020

Five cases were recorded over the last 24 hours for breach of curfew.

Two people in their 20s were found loitering in Narere in Nasinu.

Police say there was one case in the Western Division and it involved a 27-year-old man in Nadi.

Two farmers in Bua were found walking along the Nabouwalu area.




Seven drunkards arrested for breach of curfew

By Iva Danford
Thursday 02/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Seven people who were arrested for breach of curfew last night were allegedly drunk.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the Northern Division recorded five cases where four people including a 19-year-old student were found allegedly drunk in Labasa.

He says a 33-year-old man was also arrested for walking along the Lovoni-vonu area in Taveuni.

Qiliho says two men in their 20’s in the Southern Division were allegedly found drunk in Vatuwaqa and Raiwaqa, while a 30-year-old man in the Central Division was found drunk in Toorak.

He says five people were arrested in the Western Division for loitering in Nadi and Lautoka.

The Eastern Division recorded no arrests.




160 workers of Outrigger Resort resume work today

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 01/07/2020
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. [image: tripadvisor]

160 workers of the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort have resumed work from today as the resort is slowly beginning to open up again.

They are on reduced hours for now.

General Manager Darren Shaw says that the numbers are expected to increase as they continue to open other areas of the property and as business grows.

Shaw says this month they are catering directly for locals to help stimulate the domestic tourism market.

He says they are re-opening by launching the “Love our Locals” campaign which offers specials for locals with the $175 per night bure offer.

Shaw says they are excited to announce that the first weekend was sold out and bures are selling fast for the remainder of the month.

He adds they generally employ 420 permanent staff for full operations and all of them have been receiving some payment until now.

Shaw adds the rest of the employees are on leave without pay until business resumes.




PayNowStayLater.com launched today that will allow people to book and pay for hotel rooms now and stay within the next 2 years

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 01/07/2020
[Image: Fiji Government]

The PayNowStayLater online platform has been launched today where hotels will publish attractive packages for people to book and pay for hotel rooms now and their bookings will be reserved for the next two years.

Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya says hotels and resorts will be able to generate quick business, earn instant required cash-flow, and complement direct booking strategies with a minimal mark-up of 5.5 percent commission.

Koya says the online platform will open doors of opportunity for hoteliers, with the added benefit of having a partner conduct marketing and sales conversions at little to no cost.

paynow-2-sm

[Image: Fijian Government]

The Minister adds that potential travellers, will have access to deals through one platform with flexible travel conditions, longer travel period duration for guaranteed bookings and money back guarantee cover assurance.

He says this concept presents the highpoints of purchasing future travel, as a niche solution, in their bid towards accepting the new normal.

General Manager of Pacific Bedbank, the developers of the platform, Ioane Naivalarua Junior says 15 hotels have signed up while they are negotiating terms with 8 other hotels.




Man charged with raping 15 year old during curfew hours in a cemetery

By Pratika Mala
Wednesday 01/07/2020

A 25-year-old man who allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl during the curfew hours in a cemetery in Suva appeared before High Court Judge Justice Riyaz Hamza this morning.

It is alleged that on the 10th of last month, Malakai Tausia pulled the girl from a taxi stand and went on a drinking spree.

It is alleged Tausia then took the 15-year-old to a cemetery and raped her during the curfew hours.

The court was told the girl ran to a nearby police tent and the officers caught Tausia.

Tausia is charged with two counts of rape and one count of failure to comply with curfew orders.

The case will be called on the 22nd of this month.




Six drunk people arrested for allegedly breaching curfew

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 01/07/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

All six people arrested for curfew breaches between 11 o'clock last night and 4 o'clock this morning were found drunk by Police in public places.

Police say the Western Division recorded four reports where all those arrested were farmers found drunk along the Ra area.

There were two people arrested in the Southern Division.

It involved a 40-year-old man who was found drunk at the Nabua area while a 21-year-old man was arrested at Khalsa area in Tacirua.




Fijian economy anticipated to contract severely this year - RBF

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 30/06/2020
The Reserve Bank of Fiji. [image: file]

The Reserve Bank of Fiji says the Fijian economy is anticipated to contract severely this year due to the significant decline in tourism activity and its knock-on effects to the rest of the economy.

According to the RBF’s June Review, tourism activity remains muted as visitor arrivals contracted significantly by 56.2 percent in the year to May due to the halt in international travel and tourism.

The RBF says on a positive note, the lifting of restrictions by Government will complement the “Love Our Locals” initiative announced by domestic tourism stakeholders and catalyse broader economic activity.

Sectoral performances to date remain weak as electricity, cement, gold and timber production fell up to May.

There was a -28.7 percent decline in cement production largely due to weak demand, while lower gold production (-7.6 percent) was driven by supply chain disruptions resulting from the pandemic restrictions.

There were double digit declines noted in pine wood supply (-23.9 percent), sawn timber (-50.8 percent) and woodchip production (-11.5 percent), due to subdued demand.

RBF says labour market conditions worsen while consumption and VAT collections continue to contract  

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The Reserve Bank of Fiji states that overall labour market conditions have worsened due to the weakening domestic economy.

The RBF says a total of 85,959 FNPF members received around $54.2 million under the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme in phase one, while 15,920 members will be paid around $17.5 million in phase two over a period of 10 weeks.

In addition, the number of jobs advertised contracted by a significant 48.8 percent on an annual basis up to May, indicating depressed recruitment intentions and business activities.

Upto May, contractions were noted in commercial banks’ new lending for consumption purposes by 20.2 percent, net VAT collections was down by 30.1 percent, as well as registrations for new vehicles were down by 45.3 percent and secondhand vehicles were down by 65.5 percent. In the same period, domestic cement sales were down by 18.8 percent and new lending for building and construction purposes were down by 28.7 percent.

Excess liquidity in the banking system remained ample at $849 million at the end of May on account of RBF’s investment in government bonds, higher foreign reserves and the reduction in currency in circulation over the month.

Annual inflation fell further to -1.7 percent in May from -1.3 percent noted in April and was significantly lower than the 2.1 percent recorded in May 2019. The outcome was largely driven by lower prices for yaqona, fruits and vegetables, kerosene, petrol and diesel.

As at today, foreign reserves totalled $2.181 billion, sufficient to cover 6.8 months of retained imports.




Labasa Hospital returns to a post COVID-19 new normal

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 30/06/2020

The Labasa Hospital has returned to a post-COVID new normal.

Medical Superintendent Labasa Hospital Dr Jaoji Vulibeci says all COVID-19 related preventive activities such as social distancing, hand sanitizer usage and maximum of 100 Fijians will be part of the new normal.

Vulibeci says this is in line with the latest relaxation of restrictions announced by the Prime Minister last week.

He says all special outpatient clinic customers will be seen by the doctors in the hospital on the given dates in their cards.

The outpatient clinic will remain at the Nasea Health Center with the Children’s outpatient services at the Ro Qomate Health Clinic.




Only three curfew breaches in the last 24 hours

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 30/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

There were three curfew breaches in the last 24 hours.

Two people were found drunk in the Southern Division.

One of them in his 20s was arrested along the Samabula area while a 33-year-old fisherman was found drunk and walking along the Tamavua area.

Police say the lone case recorded in the Western Division involved a 38-year-old man who was found walking around the Nadi area during curfew hours.




Two Lautoka women returning from grog session during curfew hours arrested

By Semi Turaga
Monday 29/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Two women have been arrested for breach of curfew after they were found walking along Saweni in Lautoka last night, returning from drinking grog at a friend's place.

A 20-year-old man was also arrested after being found drunk and walking along the Ba Bridge.

There was a  25-year-old farmer from Kasavu in Tailevu who was arrested for not only breaching curfew but for an alleged case of burglary.

Police say a 28-year-old man was also arrested as he was found walking along Ratu Sukuna Road during curfew hours.

Six men were also found drunk in public places during curfew hours.

The arrests were made in Navua, Nasinu, Valelevu and Nabua.

Twelve arrests were made for breach of curfew in the last 24 hours.




2 Government Shipping employees arrested last night as they were found drunk

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 28/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

2 Government Shipping employees were arrested last night as they were found drunk along Nakasi Road.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 31 arrests were made for breach of curfew restrictions.

The Southern Division recorded 14 reports, Western Division recorded 13 while the Eastern and Central Divisions both recorded 6 cases each.

The arrests made in the Western Division involved two cases of being drunk in public.

Qiliho says one case involved a 36 year old woman who was found drunk along Sukanaivalu Road while a 35 year old man was found drunk along Sandalwood Road.

He says in the Central Division all six arrests were made in the Suva City area. Three men were found drunk along Milverton Road while another man was found drunk and walking along the Tovata Road in Makoi.

The remaining arrests were those found out in public during curfew hours without any valid reasons.




Local clubs open their doors after 3 months with new regulations

By Rashika Kumar, Tifa Vataiki
Saturday 27/06/2020

As a number of clubs have begun operations after three months amidst the lifting of some restrictions in place due to COVID-19, they have had to open with new sets of rules to ensure the safety of the patrons.

Fijivillage News spoke to some of these clubs including Suva Bowling Club, Fiji Club, Defence Club and the Royal Suva Yacht Club who say these regulations have been given to them by the authorities.

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These regulations include allowing only 100 people into the club, 1.5 metres physical distancing, all members and guests will need to sign-in the log books and enter their contact details with the security and everyone entering the clubs will need to download the careFiji App and show the security guards that they have the app installed.

Suva Bowling Club Assistant Manager, Astral Smith says those entering the club will need to get their temperature checked and their staff have been trained on how to use the infra-red thermometer.

She says they are hosting informal competitions where only 4 people will be allowed into the rink.

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Smith adds Bowls Fiji will be making decisions on formalised competitions.

Fiji Club Manager Vinita Abhimanyu says they will not be hosting any large events because of the restrictions in place however, if they do host an event, they will have to ensure that the number of people does not exceed the 100 people limit.

She says their security guards at the entrance will be taking notes on the number of people entering the club.

Meanwhile, the Royal Yacht Club has taken heed of the new requirements.

Eating areas and bars have been marked for social distancing.

They have also purchased 80 boxes of hand sanitizers that will be used by patrons at the club.




70 days since our last new case of COVID-19 – PM

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 27/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Image: Fijian Government]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says today Fiji marks another milestone as it has been 70 days since Fiji recorded its last new case of COVID-19.

The Prime Minister says 100 days have passed since Fiji saw its first case.

He says Fiji had long prepared for that day.

Bainimarama adds seeing a world crippled by the pandemic, they were determined to protect Fiji from the same fate.




13 men arrested for drinking at the Lovu HART compound during curfew hours

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 27/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

13 men were arrested at the Lovu HART compound last night as they were found drinking in public during curfew hours.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 21 arrests were made for breach of curfew.

Qiliho says a 33 year old man was arrested at the Namara Settlement as he was found drunk and allegedly trying to break into a home.

He further says three people were arrested in Kinoya and Laucala Beach as they were all drunk.

Qiliho adds a 20 year old man was found drunk in Waila.




2 drunk regional students arrested in Suva during curfew hours

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 26/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Two regional students were arrested last night as they were found drunk and out in the capital city during curfew hours.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says when questioned by Police for their reasons for being out during curfew hours, the students informed Police that they wanted to buy more liquor.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 8 breach of curfew arrests, the Central Division recorded 2 while the Western Division recorded 3 arrests.

The Police Commissioner says they do hope that everyone will keep in mind the curfew hours from 11 pm to 4 am as we head into the weekend.

He adds this is the period in which the record a high number of arrests and they urge everyone to plan their movements and activities well in advance to avoid being caught during curfew hours.




162 soldiers to return from Sinai tomorrow and will be quarantined in Nadi

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 26/06/2020
RFMF Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto

162 soldiers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces serving with the Multinational Force and Observer mission in Sinai, Egypt will be arriving in Fiji tomorrow and they will be quarantined in a Ministry of Health designated quarantine facility in Nadi in accordance with the COVID 19 Containment protocol.

RFMF Commander Rear Admiral, Viliame Naupoto says these soldiers have been in the mission area for one year and four months in what was supposed to be a 12 month deployment.

Naupoto says the initial flights to repatriate and change these personnel were conducted in late March but as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed globally by national governments, including the Government of Egypt, the rotation did not take place and the soldiers deploying to replace those in the mission areas had to return to Fiji after a refueling stop in the Maldives.

The RFMF Commander says recently, local Egyptian staff working in the Multinational Force and Observer missions Force Headquarters, have tested positive for COVID-19 after routine tests were conducted in South Camp.

He adds this resulted in further delays to their repatriation in order for the Multinational Force and Observer missions and Fiji to prepare well for the return of the 162 personnel in accordance with COVID-19 containment protocols.

Naupoto says the Fijian Government has decided to repatriate its troops in consultation with the RFMF and the Ministry of Health.

Naupoto also expressed their gratitude to the government of Australia, and the Australian Defence Force, for its continued support of Fiji’s troop rotations.

Naupoto has also asked the public for its support, understanding, and prayers during this troop rotation.

He says like everyone else in Fiji, and the world, the RFMF is learning and adapting to the new normal to ensure its personnel are safe and back home safe, after an extended tour of duty.




27,000 downloads so far for careFiji app

By Iva Danford
Thursday 25/06/2020
Director General digitalFiji, Tupou Baravilala. [image: Fijian Govt.]

There have been 27,000 downloads of the careFiji app to date.

This has been highlighted by the Director General digitalFiji, Tupou Baravilala during the National Budget consultation in Nadi today.

She also says the identity of the careFiji user is not revealed, and the only personal information that is required by the app is the mobile number.

Baravilala says it does not track your location.

She says through this app, the contact tracing team from the Health Ministry will not know where you were, but the only information that they will get is the phone numbers that were in close proximity to a particular person who has contracted COVID-19 at that particular time.

She says globally, there are different contact tracing apps developed by different countries and Fiji is one of the few that uses bluetooth technology which is a non-tracking technology.




NZ taking a cautious approach to the Bula Bubble for now

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 25/06/2020

The New Zealand government says it's taking a cautious approach to Fiji's 'Bula Bubble' proposal.

Radio NZ reports that Wellington's response follows Fiji's announcement this week that it is hoping to establish a tourism bubble with Australia and New Zealand, to attract visitors.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has said that tourists could be contained and prevented from mixing with locals. He says there will be VIP lanes - starting on the airplane, then from Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel where they will remain throughout their stay.

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Fiji is currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts best suited for the Bula Bubble.

New Zealand says it was exploring opportunities to expand the concept of a trans-Tasman COVID-19 "travel safe zone".

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said while her government is talking with Pacific nations, it is imperative New Zealanders avoided spreading or contracting COVID-19 within the region.

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Ardern also told Radio NZ that Fiji are in a position where they have seen lower numbers than many others (but) they haven't been entirely COVID-free though.

She says they have set up their own criteria for what they would expect in the event of opening up bubbles.

Ardern says it's fair to say that at the moment, the border remains the biggest vulnerability so it's the area where they will be the most cautious.

New Zealand's opposition leader Todd Muller says the criteria should be shared with Pacific nations like Fiji. He said Pacific nations like Fiji have been without a COVID case for many weeks now.

He also says that these nations are putting huge pressure on New Zealand and Australia to be innovative in the way holiday travel could be opened up to that market.

Fiji has not had a COVID-19 case in more than 60 days and it has been more than 90 days since our first case was reported.

Bainimarama said Bula Bubble travellers would have to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of their departure to Fiji.

Alternatively, upon arrival in Fiji, travellers could complete 14 days of quarantine, at their own cost, in a Fijian government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which they would have to undergo a COVID-19 test.




Unemployment impacts will trigger increase in drug trade - Ministry of Defence

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 25/06/2020
Minister for Defence National Security and Policing Inia Seruiratu

The Ministry of Defence, National Security and Policing says that the unemployment impacts brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic will trigger the increase in the drug trade particularly for those looking to earn a quick income.

It says abuse of drugs is becoming a worldwide public health issue especially methamphetamine, and St. Giles Hospital has also reported an increase in the number of patients suffering from mental illnesses due to drug abuse.

An extensive awareness campaign on drug abuse and illicit trafficking is currently being conducted in the District of Vuda and Vitogo including informal settlements and communities.

The Ministry in collaboration with key stakeholders and NGO’s have organised this campaign with the intention to raise awareness on the harmful effects of hard drugs based on the information received on the prevalence of hard drugs in Lautoka.

The Ministry says massive community awareness is important to help educate the public of the harmfulness of getting addicted to these drugs.

The Minister for Defence, National Security and Policing, Inia Seruiratu will officiate at the commemoration of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking tomorrow.




Two men arrested last night for sniffing glue and benzine in Muanikoso

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 25/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Two men aged 19 and 21 years were arrested last night in Muanikoso as they were found sniffing glue and benzine.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 15 arrests were made for breach of curfew last night.

Six people were arrested in the Southern Division as they were found drunk and walking around in public.

Qiliho says in the Western Division three brothers were arrested as they were found drunk in the Namaka area, while a 39 year old man was arrested for breaching curfew hours and is likely to face an additional charge of attempted burglary.

The Police Commissioner further says in the Central Division a man was arrested walking along Victoria Parade while heavily intoxicated, while a 19 year old was arrested in the Northern Division after he was found walking along the Nabouwalu Highway.




Qian Bo congratulates Bainimarama on his strong leadership in combating COVID-19

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 24/06/2020
[Image: Fijian Government]

The Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Qian Bo has congratulated the Fijian Prime Minister Voroqe Bainimarama on his strong leadership in combating COVID-19.

While speaking at the official handover of $136,250 worth of medical supplies from the Fiji-China Friendship Association, Bo says without Bainimarama’s leadership, Fiji would not have been safe as it is now.

Bo says this is not the end of the Chinese cooperating with the Fijian government but marks a new beginning.

He says their next priority is the post-COVID19 period and how they can facilitate the Fijian people and the country to recover economically.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama has thanked the Chinese government and the Chinese community for their donation to assist the front-line workers in Fiji.




The most attractive tourism packages can only be put out when all stakeholders take a hard look at all the costs - Lockington

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 24/06/2020
Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Fantasha Lockington

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association says all stakeholders in the tourism sector need to work together to ensure that Fiji puts out the most attractive packages for tourists.

CEO Fantasha Lockington says the 25% tax in the tourism industry, issues like the $200 Departure Tax, cost of air fares, food and beverages all have to be looked at.

Lockington says the tourism operators are also looking at all options available but all workers from the industry from 2019 are unlikely to return to work.

She also says that the next 3 months will be critical and we have to get prepared for what is needed if the border controls are progressively lifted.




Damodar Cinemas to reopen from tomorrow

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 24/06/2020
[Photo: TripAdvisor]

Good news for movie lovers as Damodar Cinemas will start re-screening movies ‪from tomorrow‬ and patrons will get discounted prices on tickets.

Damodar Group of Companies says that the movies they will be screening will include the Ben Affleck starrer ‘The Way Back’, animated film ‘Big Trip’, Vin Diesel starrer Bloodshot and Frozen 2.

Damodar

The company says movie goers will also get promotional prices ‪till 8th‬ ‪July‬. For standard cinemas the prices will be $5 and $3 while for the premium cinema the price will be $15 flat.

They say that to meet the safety guidelines by government they will be sanitizing the traffic and commonly used areas, customers will be provided with hand sanitizers, seats allocated to have gaps in between for random group sizes, screenings with longer time gaps for disinfecting and sanitizing.




13,000+ teachers back in school today while some still on their way

By Semi Turaga
Monday 29/06/2020
Education Minister Rosy Akbar

Education Minister Rosy Akbar has confirmed that a total of 13,364 teachers are today back in school after three months to prepare for the return of Year 12 and 13 students tomorrow.

Schools closed on 20 March 2020 immediately after the first COVID-19 case was identified in Fiji.

Akbar says some of the rural, remote and maritime teachers have returned to their duty stations over the weekend and some may still be making their way back due to the transportation schedule.

She has thanked all the hard-working teachers who have worked from home and remotely in the last three months to provide education to all the children of Fiji.

Akbar says she knows teachers are aware of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the students and they will provide the much needed psycho-social support to ease heavy emotional burdens the children are carrying on their small shoulders.

The Education Minister says school heads must ensure that all classrooms are well ventilated and all hygiene practices are in place.

She says all schools must ensure that there are enough water tanks to cater for hand washing and hygiene needs of all the students, especially during recess and lunch breaks.

Akbar says large schools that have had water issues in the past must work earnestly towards rectifying it before all students return to school.

She has also stressed to school heads that worksheets were supplementary resources only and teachers should not pressure any student to submit completed worksheets upon their return to school.

Akbar is also strongly reiterating that teachers should not schedule any form of assessment upon the resumption of schools.




Fiji Airways CEO hints fare from Australia to Fiji could go down to about AUD$450

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 26/06/2020
Fiji Airways CEO and Managing Director Andre Viljoen. [image: Fijian Government]

Fiji Airways CEO and Managing Director, Andre Viljoen says to get maximum number of tourists during the Bula Bubble, the airline company is looking at reducing the airfare from Australia to Fiji from AUD$654 to AUD$450.

While speaking in the National Budget Consultation in the western division, Viljoen says they aim to bring 300,000 people to Fiji for the duration of the Bula Bubble, once the date is confirmed.

Viljoen adds nobody knows how long the bubble lasts but they do have to be ready.

He says they have to create value packages that is so compelling that every Australian and Kiwi would want to come to Fiji.

Viljoen says they have approached the government to see how they can help the airline.




Printing more money will lead to a huge inflation

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 25/06/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Fijian Govt]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there will be a huge inflation in the country if the Reserve Bank of Fiji prints notes valued at $1 billion as the value of the Fijian dollar will come down.

Sayed-Khaiyum made this comments after Nadi Chamber of Commerce President, Doctor Ram Raju asked him on whether the Reserve Bank of Fiji can print $1 billion and give it to the Ministry of Economy at a zero percent interest rate. Doctor Raju says he wanted the clarification as this has been suggested by one of the economists.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this step will not be taken by RBF.

While responding, the Attorney General has also revealed that the country’s Debt to Gross Domestic Product Ratio is expected to go higher than 60 percent as government revenue is not as strong as it used to be.

The Minister for Economy says prior to COVID-19, 70 percent of the government’s borrowings has been onshore and 30 percent has been offshore.

However he says going forward, the government plans to borrow more money offshore because if you have less tourists coming in, the foreign currency levels will go down. He says they need to maintain healthy foreign reserve levels.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this is fine for now but foreign reserves could get depleted soon if we do not have tourists coming in and exports don’t pick up.




265 workers of Sofitel Fiji Resort sent on Leave Without Pay

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 24/06/2020
[Photo: Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa]

265 workers of the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa have been sent on Leave Without Pay due to no tourist arrivals as a result of COVID-19.

166 workers were earlier made redundant by the resort.

Director of Human Resources Mereoni Gusuivalu says the resort was closed for almost 12 weeks and it is only expected to open up again when the Australian borders open up.

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Gusuivalu says all workers were being paid for the past 12 weeks despite the resort being closed and it is unfortunate that they have had to take this step.

She says they were being paid a convenient amount after considering their necessities such as the number of people in their families.

Gusuivalu says the workers will be receiving their last payment this week.

She says the 265 workers will be hired once again when the resort opens up while the 166 workers that have been made redundant will have to apply once again.




6 men arrested for drinking at the Saunaka Village Ground in Nadi during curfew hours

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 24/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

11 people who were arrested for breaching curfew restrictions last night were drunk at the time of their arrest.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Western Division recorded six cases whereby all those arrested were found drinking at the Saunaka Village Ground in Nadi during curfew hours.

The six are aged between 18 to 29 years.

Qiliho further says in the Southern Division, four men were found drunk in Tovata while a 22 year old man was arrested along Khalsa Road.

The Eastern, Northern and the Central Divisions all recorded nil cases.




265 workers of Sofitel Fiji Resort sent on Leave Without Pay

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 24/06/2020
[Photo: Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa]

265 workers of the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa have been sent on Leave Without Pay due to no tourist arrivals as a result of COVID-19.

166 workers were earlier made redundant by the resort.

Director of Human Resources Mereoni Gusuivalu says the resort was closed for almost 12 weeks and it is only expected to open up again when the Australian borders open up.

File-Rooms-FNB-Waitui-Beach-Club-outlet

Gusuivalu says all workers were being paid for the past 12 weeks despite the resort being closed and it is unfortunate that they have had to take this step.

She says they were being paid a convenient amount after considering their necessities such as the number of people in their families.

Gusuivalu says the workers will be receiving their last payment this week.

She says the 265 workers will be hired once again when the resort opens up while the 166 workers that have been made redundant will have to apply once again.




Fiji Airways yet to confirm when it will hire flight crew in preparation for the Bula Bubble

By Vijay Narayan, Faria Begum Ali
Tuesday 23/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Fiji Airways says all operational requirements including hiring of flight crew members will be looked at once dates are determined for the commencement of the Bula Bubble.

An airline spokesperson says they are actively working with all relevant stakeholders, agencies and authorities to ascertain the dates.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has said that if Fiji starts getting tourists as part of the Bula Bubble, hotel workers will start returning to work and Fiji Airways can start it’s hiring process and get flight attendants and other crew members to work.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Phase 2 plan is ready and Fiji now has to see how things play out within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Fiji Airways has already confirmed that it is working to get payment deferrals for their planes for which leases are still being paid for.

They have also gone into negotiations regarding their loans and raising debt finance.

Parliament had earlier approved the motion by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for the government to guarantee Fiji Airways loans totaling $455 million.

This includes domestic borrowings of up to FJ$191.1 million and off-shore borrowings of up to US$117.1 million.

The airline company has total fixed costs and other associated costs of $38 million a month.

Fiji Airways CEO and Managing Director Andre Viljoen had earlier said as there had been no cash flowing into the business, the primary focus for the airlines now is to preserve cash reserves.

CEO

Some of the measures taken to ensure the preservation of cash reserves is the termination of contracts of 758 of their staff, termination of contracts of their expatriate pilots and other management team members.

All of the airlines 79 expatriate pilots have had their contracts terminated and eight expatriate executives have had their employment terminated, with five expatriate staff remaining, including the CEO.

The CEO had also revealed that some staff who continue their employment have a 20 percent salary reduction and will also work between 2 to 5 days per week, and only be paid for actual days or hours worked.




11 arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 23/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Eleven arrests were made for breach of curfew last night.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Western Division recorded four reports in the Martintar area in Nadi, as four men were found drunk and out in public

Qiliho says 6 people were arrested in the Eastern Division including five farmers who were found loitering in the Wainibuka area, while a 27 year old woman was found drunk in Nausori.

Qiliho adds the lone case in the Southern Division involved a 28 year old man who was found loitering in the Caubati area.




Fiji has the capability to manufacture hygiene products locally - Waqainabete

By Tifa Vataiki
Monday 22/06/2020
Minister of Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister of Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has commended local companies for coming up with innovative ways to help the Ministry battle COVID-19.

Dr Waqainabete says there has been an increase in local manufacturing of hygiene products and hand sanitizers to cater for the growing demand during this COVID-19 period.

He adds that this shows the capability of the country not only in its distribution process but also the manufacturing aspect of making hygienic products.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has received $10,000 worth of assistance from Kaks Marketing which included items like hand sanitizers, toilet tissues, commercial and industrial cleaning chemicals.




LTA to continue to limit 20 people at a time in their offices

By Shanil Singh
Monday 22/06/2020
CEO Samuel Simpson

The Land Transport Authority will continue to limit 20 people at a time at their offices.

CEO, Samuel Simpson says all precautionary measures continue to be in place in all their offices for the safety of their staff and customers despite COVID-19 restrictions being revised.

Simpson says even though the Fijian government has allowed gathering up to 100 Fijians, their offices will continue to allow only 20 customers at a time.

He says they will continue to implement all the safety precautions which have proved to be effective against the spread of COVID-19 although there have been no new cases.




There will be no competitive sports, extracurricular activities in schools this year which includes assemblies

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 22/06/2020
Acting Permanent Secretary for Education Susan Kiran

There will be no organised or competitive sports, extracurricular activities, school assemblies, concerts, excursions and prize-giving/awards ceremonies or any other special celebrations in schools this year.

In a circular, Acting Permanent Secretary for Education, Susan Kiran confirms that schools will have to make arrangements to cancel programs if any are planned.

Kiran says to factor in the new term dates, the curriculum has been realigned for this academic year to ensure consistency in coverage and the curriculum will now focus on concepts and teachers will have to plan their lessons to accommodate this change. She says details on the realigned curriculum will be provided later. The Ministry has also revealed that there should be no assessment for students within the first few weeks of their return to school.

It has also been confirmed that the Year 12 and 13 external examinations will take place in the last two weeks of Term 3 while everyone else will have school based assessments.

The Ministry of Education adds that there should be no extra classes.

Teachers have been told to ensure that they regularly wash their hands and refrain from touching their face and teachers should inculcate the same behaviour in their students.

In addition to this, Kiran says school heads have to identify a designated drop-off and pick-up area for students and heads of schools have to ensure that students wait for their parent pickup in sheltered open spaces instead of crowding them in one room.

Kiran says many families will be facing hardship due to prevailing economic situation and therefore Heads and teachers have to be extra vigilant and conscious of students mental and physical health and well-being.

She says a number of students will take time to readjust and should not be penalised for slow progress in learning.

The Ministry further says that students who may have lost their textbooks, exercise books, stationary and uniforms during the extended break must not be humiliated but dealt with in a sensitive and practical manner.

Furthermore, Kiran confirms that boarding students should not be allowed to leave the school premises unless approved by the school heads and no student should be permitted into a dormitory which they are not an occupant of.

She says all students in boarding schools must have routine temperature and symptom check.




FNU to meet tomorrow to decide on safe resumption of face to face classes

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 22/06/2020
Acting Vice Chancellor Professor James Pounder

The Fiji National University’s Senior Management Group will have a special meeting tomorrow to discuss an orderly and safe return to face to face mode of learning and teaching.

Acting Vice Chancellor Professor James Pounder says further to the statement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announcing ‘Phase 2’ of Fiji’s COVID-Safe Economy Recovery yesterday, they will meet tomorrow to hold discussions.




The FJ$12 beer will stay if the current taxes totaling 25% remains - Lockington

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 22/06/2020
CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Fantasha Lockington

The CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, Fantasha Lockington says some hotel and resort businesses are selling a bottle of beer for FJ$12 because they have to pay a total of 25% in tax to the government.

Lockington is hoping the tourism industry stakeholders, Tourism Fiji and the government work together on this matter.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had said it is important that the tourism sector in Fiji recognizes what the government has announced as part of the Bula Bubble, and also look at the margins on things like beer.

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However Fantasha Lockington says comparing Fiji with Bali is not right as those in Bali do not pay 25% in tax, they do not pay their workers the rates the Fiji tourism sector is paying and also do not have the level of regulatory compliance that Fiji has.

Lockington says the FJ$12 beer will stay if the current taxes totaling 25%remains.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has stated that while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman Bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

PM-Voreqe-Bainimara-sm

The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

Bainimarama says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation. He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.

The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.




COVID19: New curfew hours, 100 people gatherings allowed and places of worship can open with limit of 100 people

By fijivillage
Sunday 21/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Photo: Office of the Prime Minister]

  • Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that the nationwide curfew will remain in effect but from tomorrow 22nd June 2020 the new curfew hours will be from 11pm to 4am. 
  • He has also announced that nightclubs will remain closed.
  • From Monday - 22nd June 2020, gatherings of 100 people will be allowed.
  • It is for weddings, funerals and other community gatherings.
  • From Friday - 26th June 2020, places of worship will be allowed to be opened with only gatherings of 100 people allowed.
  • PM says Year 12 and 13 students will start classes on Tuesday - 30th June to allow them to get back to preparing for their exams.
  • Tertiary institutions can also allow face to face classes from 30th June.
  • Schools will open on 6th July for other students.
  • Sporting venues can hold sports at 50 percent capacity so long as social distancing applies.
  • Cinemas will be opened from tomorrow but will be limited to 50 percent capacity but there needs to be 1.5 metres distancing
  • Community sports will have a limit of 100.
  • Now 64 days since Fiji confirmed its first case of COVID-19.
  • The Prime Minister is today launching the careFiji app, Fiji's contact tracing app for COVID-19.
  • PM says he is not here to talk about returning to normal but a new normal He says we must build our resilience to COVID-19 from the ground up PM says zero cases does not mean zero risks He says Fiji cannot shut the world out as it affects thousands of jobs.
  • Phase 2 of Fiji's safe return to economic recovery will be announced today.
  • A press conference will be held at 2pm today with the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete, Education Minister Rosy Akbar, and Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.
  • PM says the CareFiji app uses Bluetooth technology to make contact tracing much faster He says the app has the same features as the app used in Australia and Singapore This is to keep Fijians safe and also show tourists that Fiji is one of the safest places to visit.
  • Fiji working on a Bula Bubble between Fiji Australia and NZ.
  • Safe measures are being announced.
  • Intending travellers must show certified proof of being self quarantined in their country for 14 days.
  • The other option is 14 days quarantine on arrival in Fiji.
  • VIP lanes will be set up for these tourists.
  • Resorts will be identified for this.
  • Pacific pathways will be established with Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga.
  • They have to spend 14 days in quarantine at a Fijian govt facility before being tested for COVID-19.
  • The costs for this will be paid by their govt or the individuals.
  • Fiji Airways already has a travel safe plan.
  • Yachts and pleasure craft are looking forward to returning to Fiji.
  • Safe blue lanes expected to be created.
  • Only entry will be at Port Denarau Marina.
  • Cruise ships are still strictly banned.
  • Contain is the key word here for COVID-19.
  • Fiji will remain COVID contained according to the PM.
  • Travellers also have to produce a negative COVID-19 test result within 40 hours.
  • Fijian citizens and Fiji residents overseas will be allowed to travel to Fiji.
  • They have to give their certification of 14 days quarantine in Australia or NZ.
  • They will then have to go to self quarantine for 7 days at home.
  • They also need to have downloaded the careFiji app.
  • All precautionary measures will be taken by the crew.
  • All costs of tests etc will be paid by the production company
  • Schools will open on 6th July for other students.

Year 12 & 13 students back to school on 30th June while other students to start on 6th July 

Face to face classes in universities can start on 30th June 

By: Semi Turaga

school

Year 12 and Year 13 students in secondary schools will start classes on Tuesday - 30 June 2020 while the rest of the primary and secondary school students, as well as early childhood education, will open one week later, on Monday - 6th July.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has also announced that tertiary institutions as well can open for face-to-face classes from 30 June.

Bainimarama says Year 12 and Year 13 students will start classes on 30 June to allow them to get back into preparing for their exams.

He says their plan to reopen schools has catered for a realigned school curriculum, ensuring that all of Fiji’s schools are on the same page.

Bainimarama says it simply wouldn’t be fair for children in different schools to be disadvantaged just because of where they live, and which school they attend, whether public or private.

He says this is why they have taken the time to address re-opening for the remainder of the 2020 school year with particular care. Bainimarama says principals, teachers, and school management will be responsible for COVID-proofing their schools, practicing the healthy habits that they have embraced in every corner of COVID-safe economic recovery.

He says there are over 238,000 students in Fijian schools across the country.

Gatherings of 100 people allowed but nightclubs to stay closed

By: Semi Turaga

nihghtclub-sm


Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that nightclubs will stay closed while from Monday, the 22nd of June, they will be allowing for gatherings of up to 100 individuals.

Bainimarama says, for the time being, this 100-person limit will apply to weddings, funerals, cafes, restaurants, conferences, and other community gatherings.

He says all throughout Fiji, we need to start gatherings not as large, uncontrolled masses, but as self-contained groupings.

Curfew now 11pm to 4am starting from tomorrow

By: Semi Turaga

curfew


The new nationwide curfew hours starting from tomorrow (Monday - 22nd June 2020) will be from 11pm to 4am.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that the nationwide curfew will remain in effect but to allow for more economic activity and freedom of movement, it will now be enforced from 11pm and lifted at 4am.

He says this is not just a matter of health, but a matter of public well being.

Bainimarama says they have heard from countless Fijians asking that the curfew be kept saying that they feel safer with restrictions.

He says this revised curfew will remain in effect until further notice.

All sports activities and facilities will now be permitted but under strict regulations – PM

By: Navitalai Naivalurua

sports-sm


Sporting facilities and activities will now be permitted but it will be permitted with strict rules.

This has been highlighted by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during his COVID-19 announcement today.

Bainimarama says gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools, both public and those at the hotels will be re-opened from tomorrow.

He says it is the responsibility of facility operators to ensure the facilities are clean and they maintain contact tracing information for every person who uses their facilities by checking for careFIJI installation and keeping a manual log for those who do not have smartphones.

He adds live sporting events can also resume, but with restrictions.

The Prime Minister says formal indoor and outdoor sporting venues can host sporting events with spectators at 50 percent capacity, as long as physical distancing is maintained within the venue.

He says for informal sports events at the community level, the 100-person limit applies and they will be reviewing this policy shortly.

He says team officials will be responsible for symptom screenings of their players and should not allow anyone who is sick to play.

He adds cinemas will also be able to re-open their doors from tomorrow, but under various conditions.

The Prime Minister says cinemas will be limited to 50 percent of capacity and all groupings of theatre-goers such as friends and family members who attend and sit together, will now be required to sit 1.5 metres apart from other groupings or individuals.

He adds in between each showing, service areas need to be wiped down, seats deep cleaned and public areas must be thoroughly sanitised.

Houses of worship to re-open with 100 worshippers at a time

By: Semi Turaga

pew


Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says effective from Friday, the 26th of June, they are allowing houses of worship to re-open their doors to 100 worshippers at a time.

He says starting tomorrow, over the next three to four days, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will be meeting with religious leaders to talk about how the new normal will look in houses of worship, and how they can adapt to protect Fijians who come to them.

Bainimarama says science shows serious risks in houses of worship because of the close proximity, the intimacy of congregations, and practices such as indoor singing.

He says they will be working hand-in-hand with churches, mosques, and temples to explain and limit these unique challenges.

Bainimarama says now more than ever, houses of worship need to be not a source of risk, but of refuge. He says they are asking each church, mosque, and temple to share the burden of responsibility, and look after their worshippers with the same duty of care that is at the centre of all their efforts.

Bainimarama is asking houses of worship to set up hand-washing stations, limit physical contact, encourage distancing measures, and consider holding more services to ensure adherence to the 100-person limit.

careFIJI COVID-19 tracing app now available to download 

By: Semi Turaga

Untitled-1-Recovered


The careFIJI app, Fiji's COVID-19 tracing app has been launched by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and it is now available on Google Playstore or the Apple App Store.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the careFIJI will do far more than making contact tracing more efficient and effective.

He says it will instill a sense of confidence in other countries and show the world, and tourists, that Fiji is perhaps the safest nation on Earth to live, work, and holiday in.

Bainimarama adds that it will bring back lost jobs of friends and neighbours and restore lost income, and put us back on track to economic greatness. He says because the App uses Bluetooth and not data for its core function, careFIJI itself takes almost no data to use once it’s installed.

Bainimarama says careFIJI is designed to be as easy, secure, and hassle-free as possible.

The Prime Minister says it takes around 10 megabytes to install the App.

He says thanks to an agreement struck by the Ministry of Communications, both Vodafone and Digicel have agreed to reimburse their customers with ten times that amount, 100 megabytes free of charge.

Bainimarama says the digitalFIJI team has developed a dedicated website that provides additional information about the careFIJI app.

He says people can visit the website data-free by going to www.carefiji.digitalfiji.gov.fj

If businesses do not comply with COVID-19 safe protocols, we won’t hesitate to go back on easing restrictions - Bainimarama

By: Semi Turaga

business


Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has made it clear that if businesses aren’t complying with the safe COVID-19 measures, the government will not hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions.

He says most of the public interactions take place in the workplace, wherever that may be.

Bainimarama says especially for those of working indoors for extended periods of time, their places of work can pose a serious risk, that’s why working Fijians must download careFIJI.

He says the government is leading that push through example by mandating that all users of government-issued phones, members of the disciplined forces, and users with phones issued by government-funded statutory bodies, download the careFIJI App. Bainimarama says entities in which the government holds interest and social welfare recipients, other government assistance beneficiaries, as well as civil servants, should all download careFIJI.

He says they will also be working closely with private sector partners, particularly those in key economic sectors with large staff numbers, to encourage uptake of the App.

Bainimarama is asking every business, of every size and across every industry, to be leaders in their respective fields by drawing up their own gameplans for running safe, COVID-proofed operations.

He says every business in Fiji has the responsibility of adhering to COVID-safe protocols, which have been comprehensively outlined, by industry, in the framework that will be posted online. Bainimarama says they are not sending the police to every workplace in the country to enforce these policies, this strategy relies on self-regulation.

He says it relies on businesses stepping up and doing the right thing for their customers and their country but if businesses aren’t complying, they won’t hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions.

Fiji is working on its own Bula Bubble - PM

By: Navitalai Naivalurua 
airort

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji’s leading medical experts are in talks with Australia and New Zealand health experts in laying the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders.

Bainimarama says Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, Dr James Fong and Dr Jemesa Tudravu are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department.

He says this international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we move forward.

He adds while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow a strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

He says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.

He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.

The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.

Fiji establishes safe 'Blue Lanes' for yachts and pleasure crafts while cruise ships are still banned

By: Semi Turaga

Untitled-1-Recovered


Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that Fiji is establishing safe “Blue Lanes”, open to those yachts and pleasure craft sailing to Fiji but the requirements are strict.

He says being alone at sea is a verifiable, self-contained quarantine which means anyone coming by pleasure craft to Fiji, so long as they haven’t interacted with others, are very low-risk, but their economic impact is very high-reward.

Bainimarama says any boat coming to Fiji will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

He says to start, the only port of entry will be Port Denarau Marina.

Bainimarama adds if this pilot project is successful, they will consider extending Blue Lanes to other ports and marinas. He says those eligible to sail to Fiji fall under two categories, both of which will require them to be tested in another country before departing.

Bainimarama says in the first category if their journey to Fiji will take 14 days or longer uninterrupted at sea, once they dock in Fiji and show proof of a negative test result, everyone on board will be screened by the Ministry of Health for symptoms.

He says if they’re deemed to be healthy, their yacht will be allowed to freely visit other ports throughout Fiji.

Bainimarama says alternatively, those with a journey at sea shorter than 14 days will be required to make up the difference in quarantine once they dock in Fiji at their own cost.

The Prime Minister says if they spend eight days alone at sea, they will then be required to pay for six days of quarantine in Fiji, after which they can be cleared by a negative test result, also at their own cost. He says there’s already been a great deal of enthusiasm shown for ideas like this.

Bainimarama says in fact, interest has been expressed in using the Pacific for travel, maintenance, and stocking in the build-up to the 36th America’s Cup next year, in which Fiji could be used as a safe “parking lot” until the start of the start of cyclone season. He says cruise ships are still strictly banned.

Health Ministry confident we are at a good place for schools to open

By: Semi Turaga

fong-sm


The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says there has been a lot of work done with the Ministry of Education in guiding how they can sort out things like hand sanitizers and making sure they are easily accessible as well as ensuring there is COVID-19 safe behaviour in schools.

He says in the scientific world, it is becoming clearly evident that school children do not push the pandemic as much as adults.

Doctor Fong says this is clear evidence that is beginning to articulate itself quite well and it is one of the reasons why they were able to get students back to school.

He says another thing that they have come to understand is that children not getting to school is not good at all for anybody's long term outcomes, both in terms of health and economic outcomes.

Doctor Fong says they are very cognisant of the fact that they need a lot more educated children in order to sustain many of the efforts that are required to raise Fiji's socio-economic level and therefore better the health outcomes.

He says he is very confident that moving forward there will be a lot more lessons learnt but they are at a good place at this point in time to get schools to open.

Doctor Fong says they are confident that even boarding schools will be able to function.

He also said the Health Ministry has accomplished the first part of saving lives from COVID-19 and now wants to focus a lot more on reducing the adverse health impacts of the loss of livelihood.

Doctor Fong says they want to help everybody in engaging safely in gaining their livelihood.

He says the Health Ministry has achieved what they believe is a sufficient level of COVID-19 containment in this country to be able to say that Fiji is COVID-19 contained.

Doctor Fong says the term COVID-19 free is a term they wish to avoid because they believe as long as the pandemic persists no country can ever be COVID-19 free.

He says they can never say that there is no risk, they can only discuss low risk.

Doctor Fong says the health input into border control has been strengthened because of the response during the acute phase and to a large extent there has been a high degree of medical readiness capacity that has been built up especially in terms of their ability to detect cases early, contain those cases and ensure that they reduce the risk of transmission from each case.

He says they have also increased their capacity in terms of clinical management.

Doctor Fong says very recently they have received a donation of 40 extra machines that have been a game-changer in trying to deal with sick people who get COVID-19.

He adds that these machines are called air home machines.

Doctor Fong says these machines are very important in terms of trying to reduce the need for patients to go on ventilators.

He says the other thing that they did during the acute phase was engaged with a lot of non-medical sectors in helping them set up their guidelines that will help break chains of transmission within the community.

Doctor Fong says they have ensured that they at least start discussing in a lot more detail their COVID-19 safe measures.

He says all of this has been achieved through a whole of government approach through the COVID-19 Incident Management Team.

Doctor Fong says one of the key reasons the Health Ministry was successful was because of the whole of government approach during the acute phase.

Teachers to report to school on the 29th of June - Rosy Akbar

rosy-sm

All school teachers are to report to their schools on the 29th of June.

This has been highlighted by the Minister for Education Rosy Akbar in a press conference this afternoon stating that this will ensure that all facilities are prepared to kick start the learning process.

She says classes for Year 12 and Year 13 will resume on the 30th of June while all other levels including special and Early Childhood classes will resume on the 6th of July.

She is urging teachers who are teaching in maritime areas to plan their travel now as the Ministry needs them to be at their different working stations by the 29th of June.

Akbar says school principals, teachers and school managers will be responsible for COVID-19 proofing their schools and ensuring that healthy habits are being followed.

She is urging teachers to download the careFiji app to ensure that their lives and the students are protected when school resumes.




We have put the first step forward by saying we are welcoming tourists back-AG

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 21/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says it is critical for the Hospitality Sector to understand that once borders start opening and other tourism destinations have access to their former markets, they will try and grab as much as the market as possible.

Sayed-Khaiyum says it is important that the tourism sector in Fiji recognizes what the government has announced today.

He says they have put the first step forward by saying we are welcoming our tourists back.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Tourism Fiji is currently talking to a number of hotel properties to develop very attractive packages and he hopes that an announcement is made soon.

He says they are putting their best step forward by taking into account the health risks, mitigating those risks and then putting in place an economic recovery framework.




Fiji is working on its own Bula Bubble - PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 21/06/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji’s leading medical experts are in talks with Australia and New Zealand health experts in laying the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders.

Bainimarama says Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, Dr James Fong and Dr Jemesa Tudravu are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department.

He says this international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we move forward.

He adds while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow a strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

He says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.

He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.

The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.




Fiji is working on its own Bula Bubble - PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 21/06/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji’s leading medical experts are in talks with Australia and New Zealand health experts in laying the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders.

Bainimarama says Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, Dr James Fong and Dr Jemesa Tudravu are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department.

He says this international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we move forward.

He adds while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow a strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

He says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.

He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.

The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.




Fiji is working on its own Bula Bubble - PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 21/06/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji’s leading medical experts are in talks with Australia and New Zealand health experts in laying the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders.

Bainimarama says Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, Dr James Fong and Dr Jemesa Tudravu are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department.

He says this international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we move forward.

He adds while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow a strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

He says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.

He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.

The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.



COVID19: PM to make announcement soon

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. [image: Fijian Govt]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is expected to make a COVID-19 related announcement at 12pm today.

Follow the live updates and live video here on fijivillage.

One hour after the announcement by the Prime Minister, there will be a press conference with the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete, Education Minister Rosy Akbar and Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

Stay with us for updates.




Fiji is working on its own Bula Bubble - PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 21/06/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji’s leading medical experts are in talks with Australia and New Zealand health experts in laying the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders.

Bainimarama says Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, Dr James Fong and Dr Jemesa Tudravu are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department.

He says this international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we move forward.

He adds while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow a strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

He says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.

He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.

The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.




If businesses do not comply with COVID-19 safe protocols, we won’t hesitate to go back on easing restrictions - Bainimarama

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has made it clear that if businesses aren’t complying with the safe COVID-19 measures, the government will not hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions.

He says most of the public interactions take place in the workplace, wherever that may be.

Bainimarama says especially for those of working indoors for extended periods of time, their places of work can pose a serious risk, that’s why working Fijians must download careFIJI.

He says the government is leading that push through example by mandating that all users of government-issued phones, members of the disciplined forces, and users with phones issued by government-funded statutory bodies, download the careFIJI App. Bainimarama says entities in which the government holds interest and social welfare recipients, other government assistance beneficiaries, as well as civil servants, should all download careFIJI.

He says they will also be working closely with private sector partners, particularly those in key economic sectors with large staff numbers, to encourage uptake of the App.

Bainimarama is asking every business, of every size and across every industry, to be leaders in their respective fields by drawing up their own gameplans for running safe, COVID-proofed operations.

He says every business in Fiji has the responsibility of adhering to COVID-safe protocols, which have been comprehensively outlined, by industry, in the framework that will be posted online. Bainimarama says they are not sending the police to every workplace in the country to enforce these policies, this strategy relies on self-regulation.

He says it relies on businesses stepping up and doing the right thing for their customers and their country but if businesses aren’t complying, they won’t hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions.




careFIJI COVID-19 tracing app now available to download

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

The careFIJI app, Fiji's COVID-19 tracing app has been launched by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and it is now available on Google Playstore or the Apple App Store.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the careFIJI will do far more than making contact tracing more efficient and effective.

He says it will instill a sense of confidence in other countries and show the world, and tourists, that Fiji is perhaps the safest nation on Earth to live, work, and holiday in.

Bainimarama adds that it will bring back lost jobs of friends and neighbours and restore lost income, and put us back on track to economic greatness. He says because the App uses Bluetooth and not data for its core function, careFIJI itself takes almost no data to use once it’s installed.

Bainimarama says careFIJI is designed to be as easy, secure, and hassle-free as possible.

The Prime Minister says it takes around 10 megabytes to install the App.

He says thanks to an agreement struck by the Ministry of Communications, both Vodafone and Digicel have agreed to reimburse their customers with ten times that amount, 100 megabytes free of charge.

Bainimarama says the digitalFIJI team has developed a dedicated website that provides additional information about the careFIJI app.

He says people can visit the website data-free by going to www.carefiji.digitalfiji.gov.fj.




All sports activities and facilities will now be permitted but under strict regulations – PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 21/06/2020

Sporting facilities and activities will now be permitted but it will be permitted with strict rules.

This has been highlighted by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during his COVID-19 announcement today.

Bainimarama says gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools, both public and those at the hotels will be re-opened from tomorrow.

He says it is the responsibility of facility operators to ensure the facilities are clean and they maintain contact tracing information for every person who uses their facilities by checking for careFIJI installation and keeping a manual log for those who do not have smartphones.

He adds live sporting events can also resume, but with restrictions.

The Prime Minister says formal indoor and outdoor sporting venues can host sporting events with spectators at 50 percent capacity, as long as physical distancing is maintained within the venue.

He says for informal sports events at the community level, the 100-person limit applies and they will be reviewing this policy shortly.

He says team officials will be responsible for symptom screenings of their players and should not allow anyone who is sick to play.

He adds cinemas will also be able to re-open their doors from tomorrow, but under various conditions.

The Prime Minister says cinemas will be limited to 50 percent of capacity and all groupings of theatre-goers such as friends and family members who attend and sit together, will now be required to sit 1.5 metres apart from other groupings or individuals.

He adds in between each showing, service areas need to be wiped down, seats deep cleaned and public areas must be thoroughly sanitised.




Gatherings of 100 people allowed but nightclubs to stay closed

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that nightclubs will stay closed while from Monday, the 22nd of June, they will be allowing for gatherings of up to 100 individuals.

Bainimarama says, for the time being, this 100-person limit will apply to weddings, funerals, cafes, restaurants, conferences, and other community gatherings.

He says all throughout Fiji, we need to start gatherings not as large, uncontrolled masses, but as self-contained groupings.




Year 12 & 13 students back to school on 30th June while other students to start on 6th July

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

Year 12 and Year 13 students in secondary schools will start classes on Tuesday - 30 June 2020 while the rest of the primary and secondary school students, as well as early childhood education, will open one week later, on Monday - 6th July.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has also announced that tertiary institutions as well can open for face-to-face classes from 30 June.

Bainimarama says Year 12 and Year 13 students will start classes on 30 June to allow them to get back into preparing for their exams.

He says their plan to reopen schools has catered for a realigned school curriculum, ensuring that all of Fiji’s schools are on the same page.

Bainimarama says it simply wouldn’t be fair for children in different schools to be disadvantaged just because of where they live, and which school they attend, whether public or private.

He says this is why they have taken the time to address re-opening for the remainder of the 2020 school year with particular care. Bainimarama says principals, teachers, and school management will be responsible for COVID-proofing their schools, practicing the healthy habits that they have embraced in every corner of COVID-safe economic recovery.

He says there are over 238,000 students in Fijian schools across the country.




Waila in Nausori becomes a hotspot for curfew breaches

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

43 arrests were made for breach of curfew restrictions in the last 24 hours and 14 arrests in the Eastern Division were made at snap checkpoints erected between the Nausori bridge and Sawani.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the majority of 22 cases recorded in the Eastern Division were made in the Waila area in Nausori after officers conducted snap checkpoints between the main two checkpoints.

Qiliho says the Western Division recorded four cases whereby two men were found drunk in sugarcane fields in Ba during curfew hours.

He also says a man was arrested while returning from drinking kava and a 32-year-old man was found loitering in the Viseisei area in Lautoka during curfew hours.

The Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded twelve cases in total.

Qiliho says six men were arrested as they were found drunk in the Nadera, Vatuwaqa and Cunningham area while a 21-year-old man was found in a vacant house in Nadawa.

Another man in his 20s was arrested for threatening his neighbors at a settlement in Nadera.

The other cases were recorded at the Delainavesi, Muanikoso, and Narere.

Five cases were recorded in the Central Division.

Four people were arrested for loitering and another case involved a 32-year-old man who was found intoxicated along Edinburgh Drive in Suva.

There were no reports in the Northern Division.




Waila in Nausori becomes a hotspot for curfew breaches

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

43 arrests were made for breach of curfew restrictions in the last 24 hours and 14 arrests in the Eastern Division were made at snap checkpoints erected between the Nausori bridge and Sawani.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the majority of 22 cases recorded in the Eastern Division were made in the Waila area in Nausori after officers conducted snap checkpoints between the main two checkpoints.

Qiliho says the Western Division recorded four cases whereby two men were found drunk in sugarcane fields in Ba during curfew hours.

He also says a man was arrested while returning from drinking kava and a 32-year-old man was found loitering in the Viseisei area in Lautoka during curfew hours.

The Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded twelve cases in total.

Qiliho says six men were arrested as they were found drunk in the Nadera, Vatuwaqa and Cunningham area while a 21-year-old man was found in a vacant house in Nadawa.

Another man in his 20s was arrested for threatening his neighbors at a settlement in Nadera.

The other cases were recorded at the Delainavesi, Muanikoso, and Narere.

Five cases were recorded in the Central Division.

Four people were arrested for loitering and another case involved a 32-year-old man who was found intoxicated along Edinburgh Drive in Suva.

There were no reports in the Northern Division.




Waila in Nausori becomes a hotspot for curfew breaches

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 21/06/2020

43 arrests were made for breach of curfew restrictions in the last 24 hours and 14 arrests in the Eastern Division were made at snap checkpoints erected between the Nausori bridge and Sawani.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the majority of 22 cases recorded in the Eastern Division were made in the Waila area in Nausori after officers conducted snap checkpoints between the main two checkpoints.

Qiliho says the Western Division recorded four cases whereby two men were found drunk in sugarcane fields in Ba during curfew hours.

He also says a man was arrested while returning from drinking kava and a 32-year-old man was found loitering in the Viseisei area in Lautoka during curfew hours.

The Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded twelve cases in total.

Qiliho says six men were arrested as they were found drunk in the Nadera, Vatuwaqa and Cunningham area while a 21-year-old man was found in a vacant house in Nadawa.

Another man in his 20s was arrested for threatening his neighbors at a settlement in Nadera.

The other cases were recorded at the Delainavesi, Muanikoso, and Narere.

Five cases were recorded in the Central Division.

Four people were arrested for loitering and another case involved a 32-year-old man who was found intoxicated along Edinburgh Drive in Suva.

There were no reports in the Northern Division.




Misconduct of a few officers not a true reflection of the Fiji Police Force- Qiliho

By Shanil Singh
Saturday 20/06/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the misconduct of a few officers is not a true reflection of the Fiji Police Force as there are thousands of other officers who are doing their work honestly and diligently.

Qiliho says it is unfortunate that in the past few weeks they have had to deal with some negative publicity regarding the conduct of some of their officers.

The Police Commissioner stresses that these matters will be dealt with accordingly through their internal disciplinary processes and the justice system.




Cases of sniffing glue, burglary and possession of illicit drugs recorded during curfew hours last night

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 20/06/2020

64 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for breach of COVID-19 restrictions and 43 of those arrests were for sporting activities.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the 43 arrested were all in their 20s and were found playing volleyball in Nabua.

He says three men were found drunk in the Nabua and Delainavesi area while a 31-year-old farmer was arrested in Vatuwaqa.

Qiliho says a 42-year-old man was also stopped and arrested at the Laqere checkpoint in Nasinu for driving without a license and did not have a valid reason for being out during curfew hours.

The Police Commissioner also says two men in their 20s were found sniffing glue and drunk at the Nasese and Flagstaff area.

Five people were found drunk in the Tavua area during curfew hours while a 30-year-old man was arrested for an alleged case of break-in at the Viseisei in Lautoka area.

A man was also found loitering in Lautoka during curfew hours.

There was also a 43-year-old man who was arrested for attempted burglary at the Naduru area in Nausori while two people were found loitering at the Fulton Road junction along Kings Highway during curfews.

In the Northern Division, a 25-year-old farmer was found in possession of illicit drugs while an 18-year-old man was arrested for walking along the road during curfew hours.




ATS terminates employment contracts of 285 workers

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 19/06/2020

Air Terminal Services Fiji Limited has terminated employment contracts of 285 workers effective from today as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATS says it has experienced a drastic 95%plus reduction in business and there is significant uncertainty around the return of commercial flights at Nadi International Airport.

Company CEO, Hare Mani says ATS notes that the termination of the contracts was a very difficult decision to make, and one only made after exhausting all other options.

Mani says in implementing the termination, the company chose not to simply give notice, as per the employment contract, rather to make payment in lieu of notice.

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He says over 40 percent of the workforce had already exhausted paid leave provisions and were on Leave Without Pay.

Mani says employees received 2 weeks of wages they would not otherwise have been entitled to. He says further to this the Company paid a 10% loading on all accumulated annual and long service leave as per their contract.

The CEO says ATS will proceed with further terminations, however, is careful to ensure enough time was provided to those employees who may wish to apply for their contractual provision of Voluntary Early Retirement with substantial financial benefits.

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The Company has already processed Voluntary Early Retirement for 30 employees to date.

Mani says they consulted with the Federated Airlines Staff Association yesterday and emphasised the goal of achieving a mutually beneficial outcome when addressing termination of contracts.

He says the meeting eventually ended with the FASA officials walking out without exploring this option.

Mani says the Company empathises with workers they represent, as it is of the view that employees have missed out on an opportunity to cease employment on terms over and above minimum entitlements.

He says with many of ATS employees already at home on paid on unpaid leave, there may be uncertainty regarding their employment status.

Mani says individuals should not hesitate to contact the HR office to clarify this.

The ATS CEO says earlier this month ATS had implemented retirement as per the respective article of the employment contact for 22 employees who were over the age of 55 years.

These employees were also assisted by paying in lieu of notice where this was not required.

Mani says as business picks up and as the opportunity presents itself, the Company will revisit its position.

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ATS passenger services [image: ATS]


FTUC condemns decision to terminate contracts of ATS employees

Anthony claims a brand-new Prado has been bought for Acting CEO of ATS

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The Fiji Trades Union Congress has condemned the decision of the Board of Air Terminal Services to terminate the contracts of its employees.

National Secretary, Felix Anthony says he had expected the ATS management would have accepted the offer made by the Federated Airlines Staff Association that workers were prepared to work for free until the situation improves.

Anthony says the ATS Management has rejected this proposal and claims that the contracts cannot be fulfilled.

Anthony says these ATS workers are partial owners of ATS and they do not deserve this treatment.

Anthony also claims that in these difficult times a brand-new Prado has been bought for the Acting CEO.

Anthony is calling on the government to explain its position in the termination of workers at Fiji Airways and now at ATS.

Acting ATS CEO, Hare Mani is expected to comment later.




We have to keep pushing this new behavioral change in which we live in the new normal – Waqainabete

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 19/06/2020
Health Minister Dr.Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Dr.Ifereimi Waqainabete says one thing is becoming clear is that when restrictions are being lifted in countries, and they go back to their old normal then the risk of COVID-19 is very high.

Dr Waqainabete says we should continue to think about how we behave in the new normal and we have to keep pushing this new behavioral change in which we live in the new normal.

As people await the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s announcement on the restrictions around COVID-19, Dr Waqainabete adds that they have made appropriate recommendations.

He further says that this is not a one off thing.




8 arrests made last night with 4 allegedly found drunk

By Iva Danford
Friday 19/06/2020

Eight people were arrested last night for breach of COVID-19 restrictions with four of them allegedly found drunk between 10pm last night to 5am this morning.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says alcohol continues to be linked to breach of curfew arrests.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded five reports of which two men were allegedly found drunk along Rewa Street, one man was found drunk at the Tuirara road-block in Makoi and the two others were arrested in Lami and Nasinu moving around for no valid reason.

He says the lone case in the Northern Division involves a 22 year old student who was allegedly found drunk in Delailabasa.

The Eastern and Central Divisions recorded a case each where both men were found loitering during curfew hours.

There were no cases in the Western Division.




Police ready to combat a potential increase in crime rate if nationwide curfew is lifted - Qiliho

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 18/06/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says they have enough resources to combat a potential situation if there is an increase in criminal activities following the lifting of the curfew.

A number of people have contacted Fijivillage and have raised concerns that there may be an increase in criminal activities if the curfew is lifted due to the high rate of unemployment.

When questioned if this is a possibility, Qiliho says they are aware that some members of the public do not want the curfew to be lifted but it is the government’s decision and the Fiji Police Force must posture themselves accordingly.

Qiliho says it is important that they are postured and ready when the social implications start to come into the criminal landscape.

He adds the curfew has assisted them in a lot of ways from the policing perspective in terms of restricting the movement of people which normally happens at night.

The nationwide curfew from 10pm to 5am remains in place.




Cop arrested after being allegedly drunk on duty

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 18/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

A police officer was arrested last night after being allegedly found drunk on duty.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the officer was arrested after she was stopped at a checkpoint and was discovered to be intoxicated whilst on duty.

Nine people were arrested in the last 24 hours for COVID-19 related breaches.

Qiliho says five juveniles were arrested in the Southern Division which included four youths found loitering along Omkar Road in Narere.

He says another youth was arrested with a 25-year-old playing touch rugby at the Nabua Ground along Sukanaivalu Road while others fled the scene.

Qiliho says the lone case from the Western Division involved a 37-year-old man who was arrested at Saweni Beach in Lautoka while one case in the North involved a 32-year-old man who was found loitering at Nawaca in Bua during curfew hours.




It is critical to restructure the supply chains during the COVID-19 period - Bajekal

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 18/06/2020
FMF Foods Limited Managing Director Ram Bajekal on the left. - [Photo: Investment Fiji]

FMF Foods Limited Managing Director Ram Bajekal says it is critical to restructure the supply chains during the COVID-19 period as they experienced a dip with change in schedules in shipment and air freights.

While speaking at Investment Fiji’s second series of webinars on exports, Bajekal says they have picked up and exports have been significantly higher with 30% growth this year as they are refocusing on their regional markets and have introduced new products, especially for the Melanesian market.

Bajekal stated that exporters need to re-strategise and remain optimistic during these uncertain times.

FMF Foods Limited exports products to more than 20 countries including Australia, New Zealand, all Pacific Island countries, the United States and Canada, with six subsidiary companies under its wing.

It has grown into an integrated food company, using its expertise in milling to expand into rice, peas, biscuits, instant noodles, potato and dalo (taro) chips, and contributes significantly to Fiji’s economy.




PM to launch contact tracing app and make COVID-19 related announcement later this week

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Wednesday 17/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Photo: Office of the Prime Minister]

The launch of the CareFiji tracing app will take place this week and this will be followed by a COVID-19 related announcement.

This has been announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the commissioning of the Rukurukulevu seawall in Nadroga.

He says they are finalising their assessment on their response to take Fiji forward for the post-COVID-19 era.

Bainimarama says they will make this announcement during the launch of the contact tracing app, the re-opening of schools and the scale back of other measures.


Govt will make final decision later this week on school for Year 12 and 13 students - [16/06/2020]

Everything will be carefully considered for the safety of the people of the country - PM 

By: Vijay Narayan

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Plans are being discussed to have Year 12 and 13 students back in school from Tuesday 30th June, 2020 if all is well however the government will make the final decision after consultations with health officials.

While speaking in Nadarivatu, Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama said this is the government’s plan however he stresses that they will sit with health officials later this week.

The Education Ministry had earlier highlighted that Year 12 and 13 students will still have external exams this year.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama also says that he has been made aware of the news of two new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.

He stresses that everything will be carefully considered for the safety of the people of the country, and assessments will continue to be made.

Bainimarama says if there is a new COVID-19 case, they will look at options to start classes only for Year 12 and 13.

All COVID-19 health guidelines remain in place for now.




Facemasks will be mandatory for travel once international flights recommence - Andre Viljoen

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 16/06/2020
Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen

Facemasks will be mandatory for travel for both Fiji Airways and Fiji Link customers once international flights recommence, and guests will need to have these prior to arriving at the airport for the issuance of boarding passes.

All customers will also need to keep their masks on wherever practical throughout their journey, except small children and those unable to do so.

Fiji Airways has today launched its “Travel Ready programme” outlining plans for a return to flying once border restrictions ease and travel demand returns.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen says all customer-facing staff will wear Personal Protective Equipment and this includes sales office, airport and lounge staff, as well as cabin crew.

He says the re-designed onboard service and experience will reduce contact between customers and crew while maintaining the uniquely warm Fiji Airways hospitality.

Viljoen says customers feeling unwell on their day of travel are strongly advised to not travel, and to re-book travel to a different day and unwell customers may be denied boarding at the airport.

He adds that all Fiji Airways and Fiji Link aircraft will undergo enhanced deep cleaning daily, which includes fogging and wiping all surfaces with specifically approved disinfectants, which are effective against a broad spectrum of micro-organisms.

Fiji Airways customers can expect enhanced health screenings, including temperature checks, physical distancing and spaced out counters will be practiced throughout most airports, and hand sanitisers will be available for use.

He says boarding will be done by seat-rows, starting from the rear of the aircraft for Fiji Airways and front of the aircraft for Fiji Link, to reduce contact between customers.

Business class customers will continue to enjoy three-course meals on board and simplified meal service for economy class will be delivered in special ‘Food for Thought’ packaging, which reduces contact between customers and crew.

Viljoen says this eco-friendly packaging is safe for disposal, and will save up to half a million litres of water a year and remove up to two tonnes of plastics annually from onboard.

He says the cabin crew and pilots will be trained specifically for flight operations in a COVID-19 travel world, including handling of medical issues onboard.




Drunk school teacher allegedly breaches curfew

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 16/06/2020

Eight juveniles were arrested for allegedly playing touch rugby at the Cakacaka Road roundabout in Caubati yesterday while a school teacher also allegedly breached the curfew in Nadi.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the school teacher was found drunk at the Votualevu area in Nadi.

Qiliho says there were also two men in their 20s found drunk at the Nabua and Wainadoi area during curfew hours.

Two people in the Wainibuka area also allegedly breached the curfew.

Qiliho says these two people were found drunk.

Out of the 23 arrests for COVID-19 related breaches in the last 24 hours, 17 were made in the Southern Division.

The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.




USP Senior Librarian interviewed and released for allegedly breaching COVID-19 restrictions

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 16/06/2020
The University of the South Pacific’s Senior Librarian, Elizabeth Read Fong [Image: USP SA]

Police confirm that the University of the South Pacific’s Senior Librarian, Elizabeth Read Fong has been interviewed and released for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 restrictions, and they will not comment on any allegations of intimidation made by certain groups. Fong walked into the CID office in Toorak at around 10 o’çlock this morning and was interviewed for over 1 hour.

Police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro says the CID had requested Fong to come in and she was questioned for the alleged breach. Fong has been a staff representative speaking out against USP Vice Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia’s suspension pending investigations.

She was also part of the group of staff and students that had gathered at USP in support of Ahluwalia last Monday. Meanwhile the NGO Coalition on Human Rights says it is disturbed by the recent conduct of the Police in handling student and staff protests at USP.

They say Fong and then another staff Ilima Finiasi were questioned today.

Coalition Chair, Nalini Singh says students and staff are being continuously threatened for airing their concerns around the Vice Chancellor’s suspension and other worrying allegations of corruption at USP. Singh says the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions is not an excuse to curtail human rights, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

National Federation Party President, Pio Tikodaudua says the alleged harassment, intimidation and questioning of USP staff and students is disrupting education of students as well as work of the staff, and causing them mental anguish when they are sitting for their exams. Tikoduadua says the questioning of Elizabeth Fong by Police is yet another example of Fiji fast turning into a police state with scant regard for the rights of people and their fundamental freedoms of speech and assembly. He says Fong is renowned for her principles and ethics.

Tikoduadua says her desire for good governance, transparency, accountability and to uphold and cherish academic freedom is renowned and well respected. He says they deplore Police for using COVID-19 social distancing restrictions to harass and intimidate USP staff and students.

Tikoduadua says this is ridiculous and nonsense when no social distancing is being practiced in supermarkets, municipal markets, buses and other public transport, restaurants, malls and on the streets. Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says the questioning and harassment of Fong is abuse of Police powers. Chaudhry has branded the COVID-19 restrictions as a farce.

He says the social distancing requirement is hardly observed anywhere whether it be the bus stand, supermarkets, municipal markets, retail outlets or by the people who attended the opening by the Prime Minister of the Rakiraki Market a fortnight ago and the Namoli Village reclamation wall last week.

The FLP Leader further says that there is no further need for the social distancing restrictions and the 10pm curfew if Fiji is indeed COVID-19 free. He claims the restrictions are becoming instruments of persecution for critics of the government. All COVID-19 health guidelines remain in place and Police have said that they will not make any comments on all these statements.




We want to encourage Fijians to experience Fiji’s tourism products - Stoeckel

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 15/06/2020
Tourism Fiji's CEO Matthew Stoeckel [Image: Tourism Fiji]

Tourism Fiji's CEO, Matthew Stoeckel says with the “Love Our Locals Campaign”, this is the first time Tourism Fiji is taking a domestic tourism initiative and its primary role is to encourage Fijians to experience Fiji’s tourism products.

He says the campaign has another goal and that is to work with the operators to develop local family packages and products that encourage those that are able to stay in operation through this time to look at how they can best cater for the local market.

He says there are more than 70 operators that have come onboard with this campaign and are giving special deals for locals.

Stoeckel says they will initially be running this campaign for 12 months and are hoping to continue after their international visitors return.

Meanwhile, Stoeckel says they have received feedback through many channels in relation to locals not getting the same treatment at hotels and resorts as other guests from overseas are getting.

Stoeckel says they are very much aware of the issue however they have not received direct complaints in regards to the issue.

The CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, Fantasha Lockington had stated earlier that it is absolutely necessary for locals to be treated the same way as other guests are treated at hotels and resorts in Fiji.




FNPF receives over 5,500 applications in phase two of COVID-19 withdrawal scheme

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 15/06/2020
Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi

The Fiji National Provident Fund has received more than 5,500 applications so far in phase two of the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi says more than 2,500 applications were lodged through the myFNPF App and a little over 3,000 submitted through the Employers Portal.

He says with the first round of payments due next Tuesday, for members who are on leave without pay and those who are unemployed, the Fund is encouraging members and employers to submit applications through its digital platforms by this Friday.

Koroi says the Fund is relying on these Employers to constantly check their employer portal for members’ applications that need their verification.

He says employers have a critical role in this entire COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

Koroi has also revealed that because there is a registration influx through the MyFNPF App, there were some teething issues with the App.

He says their teams have been working closely with members to assist them with the transition from manual to digital applications.




Five breach of curfew arrests last night

By Semi Turaga
Monday 15/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Five arrests were made last night for breach of the nationwide curfew hours.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the lone case recorded in the Western Division involved a 28-year-old man who was arrested in Rakirakilevu, Nadroga as he was found walking around in public under the influence of alcohol.

He says the Southern Division recorded four cases whereby all were found loitering after the curfew hours in Valelevu and Raiwaqa.

There no cases recorded in North, East and Central Divisions.




Man who allegedly breached curfew orders also charged with rape

By Faria Begum Ali
Saturday 13/06/2020

Suva Magistrate Waleen George has refused bail for a 25 year old unemployed man who is charged with one count of failure to comply with orders and two counts of rape.

It is alleged that Malakai Tausia on the 10th of this month raped a 15-year-old girl at the Lovonilase Cemetery.

While refusing bail, Magistrate George said that the man would have been allowed bail, if he was just charged with failure to comply with orders.

She said that the man however has additional charges of rape which is an indictable offence.

Magistrate George also recalled seeing Tausia in court before and it was revealed that he has a pending act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm matter before the High Court.

She identified the man as a repeat offender.

While dealing with the breach of curfew matter, Magistrate George questioned the man on whether he knew what the curfew and COVID-19 meant.

The man in response told the court that he did not know what COVID-19 means.

Magistrate George then told the man that if people in the outer islands know what COVID-19 means and he did not, then it is a serious problem.

The matter has been adjourned to the 16th of this month.

Meanwhile Magistrate George has granted bail to Isikeli Doganaivalu who is charged with a count of failure to comply with orders.

The man revealed in court that he was unable to find a cab back home after he finished a private job.

The case has been adjourned to the 27th of next month.




Man who allegedly breached curfew orders also charged with rape

By Faria Begum Ali
Saturday 13/06/2020

Suva Magistrate Waleen George has refused bail for a 25 year old unemployed man who is charged with one count of failure to comply with orders and two counts of rape.

It is alleged that Malakai Tausia on the 10th of this month raped a 15-year-old girl at the Lovonilase Cemetery.

While refusing bail, Magistrate George said that the man would have been allowed bail, if he was just charged with failure to comply with orders.

She said that the man however has additional charges of rape which is an indictable offence.

Magistrate George also recalled seeing Tausia in court before and it was revealed that he has a pending act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm matter before the High Court.

She identified the man as a repeat offender.

While dealing with the breach of curfew matter, Magistrate George questioned the man on whether he knew what the curfew and COVID-19 meant.

The man in response told the court that he did not know what COVID-19 means.

Magistrate George then told the man that if people in the outer islands know what COVID-19 means and he did not, then it is a serious problem.

The matter has been adjourned to the 16th of this month.

Meanwhile Magistrate George has granted bail to Isikeli Doganaivalu who is charged with a count of failure to comply with orders.

The man revealed in court that he was unable to find a cab back home after he finished a private job.

The case has been adjourned to the 27th of next month.




Majority of the people arrested last night for breach of curfew were allegedly intoxicated

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 13/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

25 arrests were made for breach of curfew last night which included 16 people that were allegedly intoxicated during the time of arrest.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the five arrests made in the Eastern Division involved men who were found drunk in Nausori and Vunidawa.

Qiliho says in the Northern Division a farmer from Vaturova was arrested in Labasa as he was found drunk while two others were arrested in Naodamu for walking around during curfew hours.

The Southern Division recorded 17 cases whereby the arrests were made in Narere, Lami, Vatuwaqa, Raiwaqa, Valelevu and Navua.




Two men arrested for allegedly trying to break into a shop during curfew hours

By Semi Turaga
Friday 12/06/2020

Six people will appear in court today for allegedly breaching curfew restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says there were two cases reported at the Rakiraki Police Station and it involved two farmers who had tried to force their way into a shop located in Barotu, Ra after they were turned away during curfew hours.

Qiliho says the two who wanted to buy alcohol were turned away by the shop owner, however after a few minutes were found trying to forcefully enter the shop.

He says Police were called to the scene and they were arrested shortly after. Qiliho says two arrests were also made in Lami and Narere.

The Police Commissioner says a 30-year-old woman was found walking around Narere while a 44-year-old man was found walking around in Delainavesi during curfew hours.




People urged to practice physical distancing in public transport

By Pratika Mala
Thursday 11/06/2020

All precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still in place and people are urged to follow the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health.

This comes as concerns continue to be raised about people not following physical distancing health guildelines in buses.

Land Transport Authority CEO, Samuel Simpson, reiterates that Fijians, especially those travelling by buses, taxis and minibuses, should continue to be vigilant and not relax with COVID-19 precautionary measures just because there have been no new cases of the disease.

CEO-Samuel-Simpson

Simpson requests passengers to wear masks, take window seats and leave a space in front and behind as these are all effective measures to avoid possible infection.

Minister for Health, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete says we have to make sure that we continue with the health guidelines that we have in place.

Ifereimi-meeting-sm

Dr Waqainabete says we have to be mindful of the fact that around the world COVID-19 is still prevailing.

The Health Minister says the processes that they have in place still haven’t changed.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho had earlier said they are tasked with enforcing two metres physical distancing but there should also be personal responsibility by people.

S-Qiliho-sm

Meanwhile, Fiji Bus Operators Association says they cannot enforce social distancing in buses and it is purely the travelling passengers’ responsibility as bus companies cannot stop them from boarding the bus.




16 drunk men arrested for curfew breaches last night

By Faria Begum Ali
Thursday 11/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Out of the 30 people arrested last night for the breach of curfew, 16 were found loitering in public places under the influence of alcohol.

6 of the 18 people arrested in the Western Division were found drunk and out in public places out of which four were foreign nationals.

Six men were arrested from the Eastern Division following their involvement in a drinking party at the Lokuya Settlement in Tailevu.

The Northern Division recorded three cases where the suspects were found drinking at the Vuya District School compound last night.

In the Southern Division, a 35-year-old man was arrested walking along Kubukawa Road in Nasinu intoxicated.




Four alcohol related breach of curfew arrests last night

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 10/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Four out of the six arrests for breach of curfew in the last 24 hours were alcohol-related.

Two men in their 20’s were arrested as they were found drunk in Caubati.

There were four cases recorded in the Western Division.

Two arrests were made near the Malawai Housing area in Nadi whereby both men were found drunk.

Police also say the third arrest was made in Tauvegavega in Ba while the fourth arrest was in Yako in Nadi where the people were found walking around during curfew hours.




Govt planning to have budget consultations with businesses and employers - AG

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 09/06/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they are planning to have a number of budget consultations with businesses and employers.

Sayed-Khaiyum says businesses provide work and government is concerned about ensuring that there is the sustainability of jobs.

He says the Permanent Secretary of Economy has already started her consultations with other Permanent Secretaries for other ministries.

Sayed-Khaiyum says after that they will have a consultation with the ministers with their Permanent Secretaries in the subsequent week.

He says they have received a number of budget submissions through emails, hard copies, and through Facebook.

When questioned by Fijivillage on when is the budget announcement, Sayed-Khaiyum says people will find out soon.




Drunk Savusavu farmer allegedly breaches curfew

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 09/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Three arrests were made last night for breach of curfew.

The Southern Division recorded two cases while the Northern Division recorded one case.

A 37-year-old farmer from Savusavu was allegedly found intoxicated and walking around near Labasa Airport Road.

Police also say a 20-year-old residing in Tamavua was arrested as he was found walking along Princes Road while a 25-year-old was arrested in Narere.




Bainimarama congratulates NZ on being COVID-19 free

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 09/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Photo: Office of the Prime Minister]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has congratulated New Zealand for being COVID-19 free.

The last remaining active COVID-19 case has recovered in New Zealand.

It has marked 18 days in a row without a new case.

In a message to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Bainimarama wrote that he hoped to meet again with Ardern soon in our post-COVID future and welcome back her partner, Clarke to Fiji for a jig.

New Zealand has lifted almost all of its coronavirus restrictions. Under new rules, social distancing is not required and there are no limits on public gatherings, but borders remain closed to foreigners.

International borders will remain closed.

Ardern says she did "a little dance" when she was told the country no longer had any active virus cases.




Pacific Conference of Churches highlights the important role oceans play in the time of COVID-19

By Faria Begum Ali
Monday 08/06/2020
Reverend James Bhagwan.

The General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Reverend James Bhagwan says now more than ever, there is a need to respect the ocean.

As today marks “World Oceans Day”, Reverend Bhagwan says people turn to the sea for survival as a result of lockdown and unemployment.

Rev. Bhagwan says during the time of COVID-19, indigenous knowledge, wisdom, culture and traditional practices are important to protect our ocean.

He says the oceans plays a central role in the environment, particularly for Pacific Islanders, not only as the source of food and resources, but part of our identity as well.

Reverend Bhagwan says every time someone collects rubbish from the seashore it becomes an act of redemption.




Govt will make final decision later this week on school for Year 12 and 13 students

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 16/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Image: Fijian Government]

Plans are being discussed to have Year 12 and 13 students back in school from Tuesday 30th June, 2020 if all is well however the government will make the final decision after consultations with health officials.

While speaking in Nadarivatu, Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama said this is the government’s plan however he stresses that they will sit with health officials later this week.

The Education Ministry had earlier highlighted that Year 12 and 13 students will still have external exams this year.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama also says that he has been made aware of the news of two new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.

He stresses that everything will be carefully considered for the safety of the people of the country, and assessments will continue to be made.

Bainimarama says if there is a new COVID-19 case, they will look at options to start classes only for Year 12 and 13.

All COVID-19 health guidelines remain in place for now.




Local tourists should be treated the same way as other guests are treated

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 08/06/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

As calls are being made for locals to take part in tourism, the CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, Fantasha Lockington says it is absolutely necessary for locals to be treated the same way as other guests are treated at hotels and resorts in Fiji.

She says the association has received complaints in regards to the treatment of locals at hotels.

Fantasha-Lockington-sm

Lockington says this is really important as local tourists are just as important if not more important.

She says businesses that treat local tourists differently should be called out and reported as it is not a practice that they condone or support.

Lockington adds that if the rates are affordable, then locals will try visiting hotels and resorts and this opportunity should be provided.

She says their concern is that there is still a restriction on the use of swimming pools and for many families where children are concerned, they want access to the swimming pool as this is what makes going to a hotel much more exciting.

Lockington says resorts and hotels are slowly opening up as large resorts cannot just open up for weekends as it would be operationally expensive for them.

She says many of them are taking time to do renovation works before they open up.




Digicel Fiji remaining strong despite COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 07/06/2020
CEO Farid Mohammed

Digicel Fiji says it has not let go of any of its staff although the company has encountered it's fair share of challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there was an increase in data demands of up to 40% during the lockdown in Suva and Lautoka, CEO Farid Mohammed says not all of this translates to the financials.

Mohammed says they are not focused on what the challenges mean for them now but instead focused on how they get out of it and come out on the other side.

He says they are being innovative and are looking at giving their customers other apps.

One arm of Digicel Fiji's business that has been impacted is Sky Pacific.

Mohammed says they are seeing an impact on their business as there have been a lot of layoffs and are challenged in terms of their disposable income.




14 people who allegedly breached curfew granted bail

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 07/06/2020

14 people who were charged with allegedly breaching the curfew fronted court today and have all been granted bail by Magistrate Asanga Bodaragama.

Tevita, Napolioni and Ilaitia Sorovaki who were allegedly found at Nabua Corner Shop drinking during curfew hours on Friday have been released on a $500 bail bond.

The prosecution did not object to their bail application as they are all first time offenders.

The court has imposed a curfew order for the three from 8pm-6am.

Their case will be called again on the 26th of August.

48-year-old Osea Waqa who is charged with one count of failure to comply with orders was released on a $500 bail bond.

The court also imposed a curfew order on Waqa from 8pm-6am.

Waqa was allegedly found at the roundabout at Nanuku settlement at 2.46am yesterday.

The case will be called again on the 27th of August

Sunia Tuicakau who is also charged with one count of failure to comply with orders was granted bail on a $500 bond.

Tuicakau was allegedly found at Nanuku settlement during curfew hours on the 5th of April.

His case will be called again on the 5th of next month.

Lino Tereketi who also has a case of assault in court was granted bail of $500 by the Magistrates Court.

Tereketi was allegedly found at Cunningham Road on the 6th of April during curfew hours.

The 36-year-old was heavily intoxicated when Police found him.

Magistrate Bodaragama has imposed a curfew order on him from 8pm-6pm and was told to report to the Nabua Police Station every Saturday from 8am-6pm.

The case will be called again on the 7th of August.




Timely assistance provided when impacts of COVID-19 are being felt by most

By Pratika Mala
Sunday 07/06/2020
ALipate Seru with this new boat. [Image: Fijian Government]

Alipate Seru of Sawaieke Village in Gau no longer needs to be dependent other villagers’ boats to help him put food on the table for his family as he has received a brand new boat and outboard engine.

The assistance has been provided by the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management under the Ministry’s self-help programme.

Boat-handover-to-Mr-Alipate-Seru-of-GauBoat handover to Mr. Alipate Seru of Gau [Image: Fijian Government]


Seru says he paid just over $5,000 which was one third of the total cost of the boat and the remaining cost was sustained by the government. He says that yaqona farming is his main source of income but the boat will enable him to fish more often.

Seru says he can now also sell fish to earn more money which will greatly support his family’s livelihood. Under the Self-Help programme, communities have been encouraged to initiate their socio-economic sustainable development projects on a cost sharing basis with the Government.




Foreign national arrested for breach of curfew

By Pratika Mala
Sunday 07/06/2020
41 people were arrested last night for breaching the nationwide curfew hours. [Image: Fiji Police Force]

A foreign national was arrested last night for the breach of curfew as he was found drunk with two others walking along Namuka Street in Samabula.

41 people were arrested last night for breaching the nationwide curfew hours.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says there were a few reports of people found heavily intoxicated or returning from social gatherings during curfew hours.

Other arrests involved those found sitting around at public places without any valid reason.

The Southern Division, which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded 20 arrests last night for breach of curfew. The Western Division recorded 14 reports and the Northern and Eastern Divisions recorded 5 and 2 cases respectively.



All of the COVID-19 life-saving safety measures will remain for now - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 05/06/2020
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says with COVID-19 still raging around the world, the government is busy preparing for the official launch of careFIJI, a new mobile app that will speed up contact tracing and, eventually, allow for the secure re-opening of our borders.

After officially announcing that all the 18 confirmed cases are now COVID-19 free, Bainimarama says at the contact tracing app launch, he will announce more details.

He says that will include plans to reopen our schools and our houses of worship, and safe workplace measures that will help stimulate economic activity without jeopardising the health of the people. The Prime Minister stresses that in the meantime, all of our life-saving safety measures, including the 10pm to 5am curfew, remain in place. Bainimarama says to avoid any risk of a second wave, the healthy habits we have picked up over the past months must continue.

He says we should wash our hands, wear a face mask if we are feeling unwell, and maintain a safe physical distance from others as much as possible.

If you do plan to celebrate, don’t share takis, bilos, or cigarettes – it’s simply not worth risking your life or the life of those you love. Bainimarama says there are now zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, and we have not recorded a new case in 45 days; that is over three full incubation periods for the virus – granting us a high level of confidence that the virus has been wholly eliminated within our borders.

He says overcoming this challenge is a defining moment for Fiji, but even as we welcome this victory for our people, we must continue to pray for and support those around the world who are still suffering from this pandemic’s devastation.

Bainimarama says there is always a chance new cases will be confirmed as Fijians continue to return from some of these countries to be reunited with their families, but they will be contained by their mandatory, closely-monitored hotel quarantine, eliminating the risk of community transmission.

He says every step forward will be carefully considered, and every decision will be backed by the best available science.

The Prime Minister has also extended a big, heartfelt “vinaka vakalevu” to the frontline healthcare heroes, the contact tracing team, and the disciplined forces – all of whom have made extraordinary sacrifices to keep Fiji safe.

He says while their work is far from over, getting us to this milestone is a massive win in itself, so we all owe them a debt of gratitude.




35,103 families now benefitting from Government and EFL Electricity Subsidy

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 04/06/2020
EFL Chief Executive Officer Hasmukh Patel

Energy Fiji Limited says a total of 35,103 Fijian families are now benefitting from the Government and EFL Electricity Subsidy Scheme as at May this year however National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says the Government must direct EFL to suspend all disconnections until 31st December this year.

EFL Chief Executive Officer, Hasmukh Patel says as of 1st April 2020, the Government subsidizes 48% and EFL subsidizes the remaining 52% for the first 100 units of electricity usage per month for all registered domestic subsidy customers.

This is subject to the particular account holder’s combined family household annual income being $30,000 or less, and the account holder registers and qualifies for this Electricity Subsidy.

The customers only have to pay the VAT component and normal domestic tariff rate applies for any additional units consumed over 100 units.

Patel says prior to April 2020 the Government subsidy provided for domestic account holders to save 48% on the first 100 units of electricity usage per month.

EFL says in March 2020, there were 33,665 Fijian families registered for the Government’s Electricity Subsidy Scheme. In April 2020, this grew by 4.27% with an additional 1,438 new households to the list.

Patel says electricity is an essential part of our lives and even in these trying times, EFL teams will ensure that they provide and maintain a power supply that is financially viable, economically sound and consistent with the required standards of safety, security and quality of power supply.

He also stresses that bills should also be settled on time and in full to avoid any inconvenience.

Meanwhile National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says the last thing anyone wants is for a ruthless organisation to take advantage of the pandemic.

Professor-Biman-Prasad-sm

He says EFL’s decision to disconnect electricity supply of customers who are unable to pay their electricity bills will strangulate all struggling businesses and many thousands of workers either unemployed or have their salaries and wages depleted due to the devastating effects of COVID-19.

The NFP Leader says the fact that EFL has decided to outline this policy in its latest annual report based on its corporate decision to reduce any impairment or losses to a minimum shows how ruthless this majority owned State enterprise is.

The 2019 EFL annual report states that during this COVID-19 pandemic period, EFL has not experienced any major impairment to customers account as a result of default in the timely repayments of electricity bills. It states that to ensure that the impairment loss to EFL is kept at a minimum, EFL will be disconnecting these customers’ accounts on timely basis and ensure that the customers security deposit maintained by EFL, which is based on two months of electricity usage is sufficient to offset these debts.

The NFP Leader says while temporary relief was provided to the subsidised customers whose family incomes are below $30,000 annually, using up to 100 units of electricity per month in the sense that they have been given one month’s time to pay their bill, the vast majority of the customers don’t have any protection from the wrath of EFL.

Professor Prasad says the Government announced in the COVID-19 Response Budget that the Water Authority of Fiji would suspend disconnection of water meters for non-payment of bills till 31st December, 2020.

He says Government did not make any similar announcement in respect of EFL apart from saying the company had agreed to subsidise the remaining 50% of first 100 units of electricity for those under Government’s Subsidy Scheme.




Fiji will rise again from the challenge of COVID-19- PM

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 03/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says just as Rakiraki rose to its feet from Cyclone Winston, so will all of Fiji rise again from the challenge of COVID-19.

While opening the new Rakiraki Market, Bainimarama says and we will rise better, smarter and more capable of taking our nation into its brightest possible future.

The Prime Minister says as the world prepares to welcome a new normal in the near future, Fiji is preparing to enter that new era on stronger footing adding just a few years ago, as homes and businesses in Rakiraki laid in ruin, this new market may have seemed impossible.

Bainimarama says as fierce as these headwinds may be, we cannot allow ourselves to be blown off course from the nation that they are working together to build, side-by-side.

He further says our progress must press onwards adding in the face of this latest crisis, our support for our vulnerable must strengthen.

He adds that is why they are working with FNPF to support impacted Fijian families in a sustainable manner that grants them stability today and without compromising their financial security, years later when they retire.

The Prime Minister says we must look within ourselves for innovation, and look inwards within our economy for new sources of prosperity.

He adds that is why, from next week, they will be commencing generous concessional loans to micro, small and medium enterprises, helping business owners not only make it through COVID-19, but find new opportunity in this crisis.



Seven arrested for allegedly drinking home brew and breaching curfew hours

By Dhanjay Deo
Saturday 06/06/2020

Two women, a 17 year old and four men were arrested in Nabulini Village in Tailevu last night for allegedly drinking home brew and breaching curfew hours.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says 59 arrests were made for breach of curfew with the Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recording the most number of cases.

The Southern Division recorded 36 reports, the Western Division recorded 13 reports, while the Eastern and Central Divisions recorded 8 and 2 cases respectively.




Concerns raised as social distancing not being practiced in buses

By Pratika Mala, Semi Turaga
Friday 05/06/2020
[File Photo]

Concerns are being raised about people not practising social distancing in buses.

We have received calls from people that buses are full of passengers also standing in the aisle.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho had earlier said it is important for people to know that they have to maintain physical distancing.

Meanwhile, Land Transport Authority CEO Samuel Simpson had earlier said if people can’t maintain a 2-metre separation between them and other passengers then they should not board the bus, minibus or taxi.




Schools expected to open on Tuesday 30th June 2020

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 05/06/2020
Minister for Education Rosy Akbar [Image: Ministry of Education]

The Ministry of Education has extended school closure for another two weeks, with the anticipated school reopening date now set for Tuesday, 30 June 2020.

The Ministry says now that Fiji has zero active cases of COVID-19, it is important that the Education Ministry uses this time to continue its ongoing re-evaluation of how to reopen schools across the country in a manner suited to a post-COVID society, especially for those schools requiring rehabilitation due to Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Further updates on schools will be announced by the Prime Minister during the launch of the careFIJI app.

The Education Ministry says in the interim, students should continue to utilise the supplementary learning resources made available by the Ministry, including worksheets from schools, radio programming, and video lessons on the Walesi education channel.




European Commission wants borders open by end of June

By Semi Turaga
Friday 05/06/2020
Commissioner Ylva Johansson

The European Commission has called on all EU member countries to lift their border restrictions by the end of this month and allow passport-free travel across the bloc.

BBC News reports that Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson says the virus situation was "fast improving".

Johansson says they are coming very close to a situation where they should lift all the internal border restrictions and border checks.

She told broadcaster Euronews that "a good date should be the end of June".

She also said she was happy to see that EU members were already easing border controls.

Across Europe, countries are phasing out their domestic restrictions and some have begun to reopen borders over recent days.

There's no indication yet as to when the EU's external borders will reopen.

[Source: BBC]




Fijian Police officer recovers from COVID-19 in India

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 05/06/2020

The Fijian Police officer who had tested positive for COVID-19 in India has recovered.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says they have received the good news of the Police officer's negative status.

He says the officer has been discharged from the Hospital and is with his family awaiting the next opportunity to return to Fiji.

He adds the officer who is based at the Labasa Police Station had accompanied his wife and daughter to New Delhi, India on the 13th of February for medical treatment.

Qiliho says on the 18th of May, medical clearance tests were conducted and the results which came out on the 21st of May returned positive for the officer.

The Commissioner says the Fiji Police Force acknowledges the prayers and sentiments of well wishes relayed to the Officer and his family which has been a wonderful display of the "Veilomani" spirit that has brought them through this difficult period.




We cannot drop our guard after all COVID -19 patients were cleared – Doc Waqainabete

By Iva Danford, Naveel Krishant
Friday 05/06/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says even though all the COVID-19 patients in Fiji have been cleared, we cannot drop our guard.

Waqainabete says we all have to understand what the new normal is.

He says the fight against COVID-19 continues and processes are still in place as long as it prevails around the world.

Waqainabete reiterates the physical distancing, personal and hand hygiene must continue.

He says they have to make sure the guidelines in place do not change.

An emotional Waqainabete thanked the people that were working at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 especially at the Navua hospital.

Dr Waqainabete says that all the doctors and nurses that were looking after the last three patients will now go through a period of self-isolation and guarantee.

He says more than 2,000 COVID-19 tests have been done and so far 92 percent of Fiji’s population have been screened in the fever clinics.

The Health Minister says about 100 people are still in quarantine facilities.

He says the contact tracing app will help them in contact tracing as there were times that the health officials had difficulties in contact tracing.

Fiji now COVID-19 free - PM

PM-full-recover-sm

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says with no deaths, our recovery rate is 100%.

He says even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it is 45 days since Fiji recorded its last case.

Bainimarama says this has been achieved through answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science.

Meanwhile, congratulatory messages have started to pour in for Fiji.

The US Ambassador to Fiji, Joseph Cella thanked Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the entire team for their exemplary swift, decisive, strong and transparent leadership which helped navigate Fiji to scale up and maintain its defences against this global killer virus while being hit by Cyclone Harold no less.

Meanwhile, congratulatory messages have started to pour in for Fiji.

Cella also thanked Dr. Alisha Sahukhan and her team at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control for their hardwork.

The United Nations in the Pacific tweeted that Fiji’s commitment to science, solutions and solidarity has yielded the results they were all hoping for.




All patients recover from COVID-19 – PM

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 05/06/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Photo: Office of the Prime Minister]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji has cleared the last of our active COVID-19 patients.

Bainimarama tweeted that with no deaths, our recovery rate is 100 percent.

He says even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it is 45 days since Fiji recorded its last case.

He says this has been achieved through answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science.

Meanwhile, congratulatory messages have started to pour in for Fiji.

The US Ambassador to Fiji, Joseph Cella thanked Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the entire team for their exemplary swift, decisive, strong and transparent leadership which helped navigate Fiji to scale up and maintain its defences against this global killer virus while being hit by Cyclone Harold no less.

Cella also thanked Dr. Alisha Shaukhan and her team at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control for their hardwork.

Fiji’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Satyendra Prasad congratulated Bainimarama, Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete and the health workers and Fijians across the country for achieving this historic milestone.

The United Nations in the Pacific tweeted that Fiji’s commitment to science, solutions and solidarity has yielded the results they were all hoping for.




15 people arrested for playing touch rugby in Suva

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 04/06/2020

15 people were part of the 28 people who were arrested for breach of COVID-19 restrictions last night.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the 15 aged between 16 to 28 years were playing touch rugby at a school ground located off Ritova Street in Suva.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded ten reports of breach of curfew, the Western Division recorded two cases while the Northern and Eastern Divisions recorded zero cases.




Munro Leys files appeal on behalf of 19-year-old student

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 03/06/2020

Law firm, Munro Leys has filed an appeal in the Suva High Court against the conviction and sentence of the 19-year-old university student who was charged for breaching the COVID-19 restrictions by kissing and hugging her boyfriend at the Suva seawall in April this year.

The appeal is against the Suva Magistrates’ Courts decision to convict and fine the woman $500.

Munro Leys says it is now acting for the university student and the appeal has been complicated by the now well-known and conflicting decisions of High Court Judge, Justice Salesi Temo and Acting Chief Justice, Kamal Kumar in the High Court.

The law firm says both of these cases directly affect the 19-year-old student’s situation and separate legal action may be necessary in respect of those decisions.

Partner, Richard Naidu says Munro Leys is now awaiting the release of the Magistrates Court record to allow them to carefully review and amend the grounds of appeal if necessary and the grounds of this appeal may be amended once they have obtained and reviewed the record.

The Suva Magistrates Court had fined the 19-year-old woman $500 on 22nd April this year.

On 14th May, High Court Judge, Justice Salesi Temo quashed and set aside the 19-year-old woman’s conviction and sentence by the Suva Magistrates Court and also dismissed the charge against her without recording a conviction.

While delivering his ruling, Justice Temo said the 19-year-old university student had pleaded guilty on the first call, was remorseful for her action, is a second-year university student, is living with her parents and is a member of the Suva Rotary Club.

Judge Temo had said that they are dealing here with a youth, a student, as a 19-year-old having a boyfriend is part and parcel of life and she is striving to better her future.

Justice Temo had said that this case clearly demonstrates the non-attendance to the constitutional demands of Section 11 (1) of the Bill of Rights of the 2013 Fijian Constitution.

On 18th May, Acting Chief Justice Kamal Kumar declared and nullified Justice Salesi Temo’s orders by saying that Justice Temo could only exercise his discretion to review the magistrates’ decisions upon receipt of a report under the hand of the Chief Justice which requires that such action be taken.

Justice Kumar says he as Acting Chief Justice did not provide any report to Justice Temo requesting him to review the magistrates’ decisions.

He says Justice Temo did this without consulting the Acting Chief Justice Office in any respect and Justice Kumar became aware of his reviewing the subject decisions or orders when it was published in the media.

Justice Kumar says Justice Temo lacked the jurisdiction to conduct the review.




Doctor arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 03/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

A doctor was among the five people arrested last night for breaching the nationwide curfew.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the 26-year-old doctor based in Taveuni was arrested with a 29-year-old driver based with the Ministry of Health for allegedly breaching the nationwide curfew hours.

Qiliho says they were stopped at the Lesuma checkpoint whereby it was discovered that they did not have any valid reason to be moving around during curfew hours and were allegedly intoxicated having returned from a birthday party.

He says two reports were recorded in the Northern Division, two in the Western Division and one case was reported in the Southern Division.




No insurance cover for loss of profits derived from COVID-19 pandemic - McPherson

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 03/06/2020
President of the Insurance Council of Fiji Peter McPherson

The President of the Insurance Council of Fiji Peter McPherson says there will be no insurance cover for loss of profits for businesses that will have losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

McPherson says for example if a business has a resort or a hotel and the property is destroyed by a fire or a natural disaster, and if there is a loss of profit, the insurance cover will be provided.

He says under the current circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no loss of property cover as the hotel or the resort is still structurally sound.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Fiji National Provident Fund Jaoji Koroi says they will continue to pay premiums for their hotels for the cover that protects the property from a fire or natural disaster.

Jaoji-Koroi-06-sm

He says the premiums for this year was paid last year and they are now under the insurance renewal process where discussions will take place with the insurance companies regarding coverage.

Koroi says they will continue to pay to cover for their properties irrespective of whether they are open or closed as in case of a fire, it is important to protect their hotels.

FNPF owns Sheraton Resort, Westin Resort, Denarau Golf Course and Development Land, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Holiday Inn Suva, Yatule Beach Resort Limited, FNPF Hotel Resort and the Grand Pacific Hotel.

Last week, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had stated that there is a big issue in the tourism sector where hotels and resorts are empty but they have to pay insurance premiums.

Fijian-Attorney-general-sm

He says no revenue is being generated, however these hotels and resorts have to pay premiums.

Sayed-Khaiyum says he has heard that Hilton Fiji has to pay insurance premium of $4 million in a year.




Lucky Dube who breached curfew sentenced to do 200 hours of community work

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 02/06/2020
A 23-year-old Lucky Dube Oseakula

A 23-year-old man who pleaded guilty to one count of failure to comply with orders has been sentenced to do 200 hours of community work by Suva Magistrate Joseph Daurewa.

Lucky Dube Oseakula was arrested by Police during curfew hours at Cunningham Stage 4 on Sunday.

When questioned by Police, Oseakula told them that he was returning from a grog session and was taking a stroll.

The court was also told that Oseakula is originally from Kadavu and is in Suva for a cousin’s wedding.

He has been given 2 months to complete the community work.

The case will be called on the 6th of August for review of the community work.




School teacher arrested for breaching curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 02/06/2020
[Image: Fiji Police Force]

Eight people including a 45 year old teacher were arrested for breaching curfew restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the four reports recorded in the Eastern Division involved a 45 year old school teacher who was arrested along with three others near the Wainibuku roundabout by officers out on patrol.

Qiliho says the Western Division had three cases and one report was recorded in the Southern Division.

He further says they have been receiving inquiries about a change in the curfew hours and they reiterate once again that the nationwide curfew remains from 10pm to 5am daily.




5 appear in court for allegedly sitting near a roadside in Samabula during curfew hours

By Priteshni Nand
Monday 01/06/2020

Five people who were allegedly caught sitting near Gaji Road in Samabula during curfew hours appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court today.

The court was told that 39-year-old Tevita Bainiloga, 22-year-old Anasimeci Vula, 20-year-old Viliame Nabula, 20-year-old Ivamere Tawake and 18-year-old Apisai Waqanitairewa were allegedly sitting beside the road and using Facebook.

They have been charged with Failure to Comply with Orders of the Public Health Act.

Magistrate, Liyanage Wickramasekara has told the five to sign a personal bond of $2,000 and have ordered them to comply with additional curfew hours from 9 pm to 6 am.

He has ordered them not to be at any of the public places during the curfew hours and not to re-offend.

The case will be called again on the 10th of September for the plea.




All precautionary measures due to COVID-19 are still in place – LTA

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 01/06/2020

The Land Transport Authority says all precautionary measures in place due to COVID-19 remain in place and Fijians should continue being vigilant and not relax just because there have been no new case.

LTA CEO, Samuel Simpson says wearing masks, taking a window seat and leaving a space in front and behind oneself while in a bus are all effective measures to avoid possible infection.

He says many countries are already being hit by the second wave of the virus which has killed over 300,000 people worldwide so people must not take their safety and the safety of their families lightly.

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had said that bus operators, drivers, and riders must take measures to ensure physical distancing is practiced on all of Fiji’s buses.

He had also said that passengers should spread out as much as possible, sanitize their seats and not to come into contact with others.

The LTA has also confirmed that they are now only letting 20 people at a time into their offices and this will mean a slight increase in waiting time.

They say their staff will ensure that there is a 2-metre distance between the excess people that line up outside.

LTA says it is a necessary precaution that they must adhere to for the safety of all Fijians.




Ten people arrested for allegedly breaching curfew including an attempted burglar

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 01/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Ten people were arrested for breaching the nationwide curfew from 10 o’clock last night to 5 o’clock this morning with one suspect possibly facing an additional charge of attempted burglary.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says five reports were recorded in the Southern Division including a 24-year-old who was arrested in Valelevu after he was allegedly found trying to break into a home along Kanace Road.

Qiliho says three cases were recorded in the Eastern Division which involved people drinking alcohol on a beach while the Western and Central Divisions recorded one case each.

He says one arrest was made in the Southern Division involving a man who was found drunk near the Muslim League Settlement in Nabua.




Cop charged for allegedly breaching curfew

By Semi Turaga
Monday 01/06/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

A Police officer has been charged with Failure to Comply with Orders after allegedly breaching the curfew over the weekend.

During the curfew hours on Saturday, the Police officer was allegedly drunk and hired a taxi in Nadi to go to Lautoka.

He told the taxi driver that he needed to get to work.

Police say when the taxi driver found out that the Police officer was drunk and acting suspiciously, he took him directly to the Lautoka Police Station.

The officer was then arrested there.

He is expected to appear in the Lautoka Magistrates Court today.




Police await more medical statements in the investigation of Fiji’s first COVID-19 patient

By Iva Danford
Sunday 31/05/2020
According to the Public Health Amendment Act, a person faces upto $10,000 fine or 5 years imprisonment or both, for breaching the self-quarantine directives. [image: Fij Police Force]

Police are still waiting for more medical statements before proceeding in the investigation of the 27-year-old flight attendant from Lautoka who was Fiji’s first COVID-19 patient.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says after the patient was cleared of COVID-19 by medical authorities and completed his second mandatory quarantine isolation, he was questioned and released.

Qiliho says investigations were earlier put on hold regarding claims that the flight attendant had given false information to officials about his health status as investigators awaited medical clearance.

The man had travel history to the USA and New Zealand and allegedly spread COVID-19 to a few people in Fiji.

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete had earlier stated that the first patient had allegedly gone out to party in San Francisco, stayed with family there, also went around San Francisco, and was also coughing while wearing a mask and serving passengers on the New Zealand flight from Nadi.

Fiji had 18 cases of COVID-19, 15 patients have recovered and 3 are still admitted in isolation facilities.

According to the Public Health Amendment Act, a person faces upto $10,000 fine or 5 years imprisonment or both, for breaching the self-quarantine directives.




Police officer who was allegedly drunk among the 36 people arrested last night for breach of curfew

By Iva Danford
Sunday 31/05/2020
Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the taxi driver took the officer directly to the Lautoka Police Station [Image: Fiji Police Force]

36 breach of curfew arrests were made from 10 pm to 5 o’clock this morning which includes a police officer who was allegedly drunk and hired a taxi in Nadi to go to Lautoka during curfew hours whereby he stated he needed to get to work.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the taxi driver took the officer directly to the Lautoka Police Station as he was acting in a suspicious manner and was allegedly intoxicated.

Qiliho says a 31 year old man was arrested at Jittu Estate after he was found moving around after midnight and could also possibly face an additional charge of found in possession after dried leaves believed to be marijuana were allegedly found in his possession.

He says 13 arrests were made in the Raiwaqa area including juveniles as they were found moving around during the curfew hours.

The Commissioner says the Southern Division recorded 23 reports, 8 in the Western Division, 3 in the North and 2 in the Eastern Division.



Fiji’s 9th COVID-19 patient Mohammad Saheed granted bail

By Iva Danford, Mohammed Feroz
Saturday 30/05/2020
54-year-old Mohammed Saheed from Soasoa in Labasa

54-year-old Mohammad Saheed from Soasoa in Labasa who allegedly breached self-quarantine orders after arriving into Fiji has been granted bail by the Labasa Magistrates Court.

Saheed appeared before Magistrate Senileba Levaci and is charged with one count of Failure to Comply with Orders.

He returned from a religious gathering in India and allegedly spread COVID-19 to a few people in the country.

It was revealed in today’s special court sitting that Saheed did not comply with the directives from Health officials to self-quarantine for 14 days from 24th to 31st March.

He has been released on strict bail conditions.

As part of the bail conditions, Saheed has been ordered to report to the Labasa Police Station once every fortnight.

He was Fiji’s 9th COVID-19 patient and was investigated by Police after he recovered from the virus.

The Ministry of Health had confirmed that they were able to trace a total of 834 people who had come into contact with the man who is the 9th case of COVID-19.

The case will be called again on the 22nd of June.




Seven people arrested for playing soccer in Grantham Road

By Iva Danford
Saturday 30/05/2020

Seven people who were playing soccer along Grantham Road were arrested yesterday for breaching COVID-19 restrictions on sporting activities.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says arrests for breaching sporting restrictions are creeping in once again.

Qiliho says another 9 people were arrested in Naodamu in Labasa last night for breach of curfew.

He says 28 arrests were made over the last 24 hours for breach of COVID-19 restrictions where 21 arrests were made between 10pm to 5am today for breach of curfew.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 7 arrests for breach of curfew, the Western Division recorded 2 reports and 3 in the Eastern Division.




China donates US$100,000 and more medical supplies to Fiji

By Priteshni Nand
Saturday 30/05/2020
China’s Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo. [image: Department of Information]

China has injected US$100,000 and medical supplies to help in Fiji’s fight against COVID-19.

China’s Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo says through the China–Pacific Island Countries Anti-COVID-19 Cooperation Fund they have given US$500,000 to the Pacific.

The supplies they have donated include 200,000 face masks, 200,000 pairs of surgical gloves, 50,000 protective suits, 10,000 COVID-19 test kits and 300 infrared thermometers.

Bo says China had donated USD1.9 million as the first batch of assistance to Pacific Island countries.

He says with this new assistance of USD500,000 the total assistance given to the Pacific Island countries amounts to USD2.4 million.

China has also donated US$200,000 to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme to support the Secretariat in its efforts to address priority concerns of Pacific Island countries who suffer from both climate change and the COVID-19 crisis.

China will also donate US$ 100,000 to the South Pacific Tourism Organisation to help the Pacific tourism-driven countries affected by the epidemic.

Bo says China is a genuine friend to Fiji and they are committed to assisting their friends in Fiji and the Pacific.




Special court sitting for Fiji’s 9th COVID-19 patient today

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 30/05/2020

The 54-year-old man from Soasoa in Labasa who allegedly breached self-quarantine orders after arriving into Fiji has been charged and will appear in a special sitting in the Labasa Magistrates Court today.

He was Fiji’s 9th COVID-19 patient and was investigated by Police after he recovered from the virus.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has confirmed the accused has been charged with one count of Failure to Comply with Orders.

The man returned from a religious gathering in India and allegedly spread COVID-19 to a few people in the country.

The Ministry of Health had confirmed that they were able to trace a total of 834 people who had come into contact with the man who is the 9th case of COVID-19.



“Act of God” amendment to the Employment Relations Act is sheer sacrilege - Chaudhry

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 29/05/2020
Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry

Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says the categorisation of the COVID-19 pandemic as an “act of God” after the amendment to the Employment Relations Act is sheer sacrilege, and he has also raised the question on how can a man-made disaster be attributed to God.

An act of God is a legal definition in the bill.

Although Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says employers have to prove that they have no work to provide to an employee due to the impact of COVID-19 before laying off the employee, Chaudhry says the amendment is dangerous as it paves the way for employers to terminate workers willy nilly under the guise of the COVID-19 crisis.

Chaudhry says the Fiji Airways Flight Attendants Union had earlier stated its intention to take legal action at the manner in which some 475 of its members were terminated on 25th May in breach of their collective agreement.

He believes the amendment is meant to frustrate court action by the union in this particular case. Chaudhry who says that the Labour Party will be working with FTUC to fight their cause has warned that the legislation could not be used retrospectively, or backdated. Chaudhry also says that it is clear the government has to borrow more money now as government revenue has continued to drop in the past years. He says the consecutive years of growth was also fuelled by consumption and borrowings which are now seriously affected.

He also says it is now understandable that the government has to take more overseas loans as Chaudhry believes the government has borrowed more than enough from FNPF.

Earlier,


Bill passed to allow employers to let go of their workers if they cannot provide work due to an act of God which includes COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 28/05/2020
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

Parliament has today passed the Employment Relations Bill that allows employers to let go of their workers if they cannot provide work due to an act of God which includes COVID-19 - as the definition of an act of God in the passed bill now also includes a pandemic declared by the World Health Organization.

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stresses that the employer has to clearly prove that they have to let go of their employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill sets out the employers’ duty to provide work unless the worker has broken his or her contract, the contract is frustrated or its performance is prevented by an act of God.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad should stop thinking that money is just lying around for the government.

The Minister for Economy says government revenue is down by $1 billion, expenditure is only down by $300 million, and most of the tax revenue is down as there are no more tourists at this stage.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says they are fully aware and have already said that as the weeks and months go ahead, things will get tougher if the economy does not bounce back and the travel bubble does not open up.

National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad believes the government needs to do more as civil servants have already sacrificed a total of $40 million due to the reduction in their FNPF contributions.

He also says the FNPF Withdrawal Scheme and government subsidy is being done in a progessive, sustainable and deliberate manner, rather than just giving money out.





Government revenue likely to drop by almost 50% in the next financial year if things do not pick up - AG

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 29/05/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

Government revenue has decreased by almost $1 billion for the current financial year and is likely to drop by almost $1.5 billion in the 2020/2021 financial year if the economy even becomes more sluggish.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says if government revenue decreases by $1.5 billion, that would be 50 percent of the total annual revenue pre-COVID-19.

Sayed-Khaiyum says revenue in the current financial year has been buffered somewhat by the fact that the government had the asset sale of Energy Fiji Limited to FNPF that injected over $200 million into government coffers.

However Sayed-Khaiyum says revenue is drying up as the expenditure was reduced only by $300 million to ensure that government services continue.

He confirms that normal revenue like VAT, corporate tax, personal income tax, Environmental Climate Adaptation Levy, immigration fees and departure taxes have all been affected.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the government’s job is to try to boost the confidence and get businesses to get into construction activity. He says whilst demand for our goods and services offshore may remain muted, there are opportunities in the construction sector as the sector will create jobs from within.

The Minister for Economy has also raised the question on what the former Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor, Savenaca Narube means when he says that the government should inject $1 billion into the economy. He raises the question where the money will come from. Sayed-Khaiyum says the government has already stated that the plan is now to get more borrowings from offshore rather than onshore as Fiji also has to increase it’s foreign reserves which is down due to no tourism and reduced remittances. He confirms that foreign reserves stand at 6 months of import cover for now.

The Minister for Economy also says they have seen bank deposits of residents increase from $2 billion in 2006 to around $5 billion now. He says this shows there is a lot more wealth accumulation so when people have more savings, they can fight poverty.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says the fortnightly unemployment benefit will also assist people for now and they would like people to get back into employment as soon as opportunities arise.

The Minister for Economy says COVID-19 has had such a dramatic and immediate impact on the global economy that no government ever anticipated this.

He says even a country like Australia that has had 23 years of economic growth went into a shock, and had to go out and borrow large sums of money.

Sayed-Khaiyum says it is no minor feat for any of the economies of the world to be able to deal with this using the normal economic framework.




The government now has a huge focus on offshore borrowings – AG

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 29/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirms that the government now has a huge focus on offshore borrowings when asked by National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad where will the government borrow from as government revenue may be lower than $2.5 billion.

Professor Prasad says no doubt the deficit will be higher as government revenue continues to drop.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the next National Budget will have the details however negotiations have started for offshore loans.

The Minister for Economy also says some countries have come forward to provide direct budget support. He says the Australians and Europeans have already done this while the New Zealanders are also planning to do the same.




3 civil servants allegedly breach curfew

By Semi Turaga
Friday 29/05/2020

Three civil servants were arrested for breaching curfew hours in the Southern and Northern Divisions in the last 24 hours.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho confirms that these civil servants were found heavily intoxicated by officers out on patrols.

Qiliho says 47 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for COVID-19 related breaches.

He says 24 were for breach of sports, 22 for breach of curfew, and one case of breach of quarantine.

Qiliho adds that the lone case of breach of quarantine involves Patient 9 from Soasoa who had allegedly breached self-quarantine orders after arriving into Fiji.

He has been charged with one count of failure to comply with orders and will be produced at the Labasa Magistrates Court today.

The Northern Division recorded 6 cases, 5 for breach of curfew, and one for breach of self-quarantine.

The Southern Division recorded 36 cases in total, 12 for breach of curfew, and 24 reports of a breach of sporting activities.

The Western Division recorded 3 reports of a breach of curfew while the Central Division recorded two cases.




Pandemic is manmade and China is not in heaven - Anthony

By Semi Turaga
Friday 29/05/2020
Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary Felix Anthony. [image: Felix Anthony/Facebook]

Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary Felix Anthony is sending a strong message to the government saying the pandemic is manmade, and China is not located in heaven.

Anthony's statement comes following parliament passing the Employment Relations Bill that allows employers to let go of their workers if they cannot provide work due to an act of God which includes COVID-19 – as the definition of an act of God in the passed bill now also includes a pandemic declared by the World Health Organisation.

He says the lockdowns were imposed by Governments, not God.

Anthony says the Government has moved to assist businesses with a reduction in FNPF contributions and other tax incentives, and now the reduction of Paternity and Family Care leave, and finally decided to blame God for the pandemic.

He says this is outrageous.

Anthony says they note that Governments while doing all for employers has done absolutely nothing for workers.

He also says that no obligation is placed on employers for all the concessions that are being given to them.

Anthony adds that it is no justification to terminate workers just because other airlines or employers have done so.

He further says that the difference is that workers who are terminated abroad are assisted by their Governments and have social safety nets like unemployment benefits or special stimulus packages for workers who have lost their jobs. Anthony says they see nothing of that sort here in Fiji so, let’s compare apples with apples.

The FTUC National Secretary adds that the loss of jobs at Fiji Airways and many other major employers is causing great hardship to thousands of families around the country.

Fiji-Airways-sm


He says many have ongoing financial commitments for housing, rents, motor vehicles, hire purchase, utility bills, and everyday food bills.

Anthony stresses that these are the realities that workers and their families have to face.

He adds that they understand the current pandemic crisis affects all businesses however, there does not appear to be a similar understanding of the workers’ plight.

Anthony says the Fiji Airways terminations send a very wrong signal to other employers who think now they can terminate workers overnight without any further obligation.

He adds that the government’s sanctioning of such behavior is worrying, to say the least.

Anthony says no one disputes the challenges that Fiji Airways faces but what is abhorrent is how they have terminated workers.

He says there was absolutely no dignity accorded to workers and least of all total lack of good faith despite telling the world that Fiji Airways employees were one happy family.

Anthony says the family has been tossed out the window.

He says this is simply shameful behavior.

Anthony adds that it is becoming clear that Fiji Airways wishes to do away with the union and start afresh with individual contracts, reduced wages and salaries, and benefits.

He says many employers likewise have done extremely well over the past decade posting huge profits and expanding their businesses but found themselves on their knees when the lockdown occurred.

Anthony says surprisingly, they wish to make us believe that their balance sheet was not as strong as they appeared to be.

He adds this crisis has really shown that many (not all) businesses have absolutely no loyalty or commitment to their employees.

Anthony says this is a clear message to all workers in Fiji.

He says they have demonstrated that there is no such thing as corporate social responsibility in their policies.

Fiji Airways has said it appreciates the impact of the announcement on their colleagues who have regrettably had their employment terminated.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen says this was an extremely difficult decision, and one that was made only after all other avenues were exhausted, in order to ensure Fiji Airways’ survival.

Andre-Viljoen-sm

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen. [image: file]

Viljoen adds Fiji Airways is in the same position as most other airlines, having to pay recurrent fixed costs, but earning next to zero revenue.

He stresses that in the circumstances, it was simply not sustainable for the company to continue to pay salaries to employees who are not working.

Viljoen further says today’s terminations were based upon the company’s inability to provide work to affected employees; this was not a restructuring or redundancy process.

He adds all Fiji Airways employees have been regularly updated on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company, and the need for increasingly drastic actions if the situation did not improve.

Viljoen says all applicable laws were adhered to.

He adds that this is a sad day for the company, and their thoughts are with their colleagues who, like many people around the world, have lost their jobs as a consequence of this unprecedented global pandemic.




Family Care and Paternity Leave days to be reduced during the COVID-19 period due to an Act of God

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 28/05/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

The Family Care Leave and Paternity Leave of 5 days each will be reduced to 2 days each during the COVID-19 period and resume to 5 days each when a decision is made by the Minister for Employment.

While tabling the Employment Relations bill in parliament, Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the bill seeks to amend the Act to provide for a more realistic work environment which enables the sustainability of jobs and businesses, and to clarify the meaning of “an act of God” in the act during the COVID-19 period. In this case, the “act of God” includes a pandemic declared by the World Health Organization.

The proposed changes include reducing the entitlement to paid Family Care Leave to 2 days, reducing the entitlement to Paternity Leave to 2 days during the COVID-19 period and providing for the transition to the reduced family care and paternity leave entitlements during the COVID-19 period.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says those who have taken more than 2 days of this leave will not be affected.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the increased maternity leave days will not be reduced. He also says annual leave, sick leave and bereavement leave days are also not affected.

Debate on the bill will take place this afternoon.




There is no more presence of COVID-19 however we cannot afford second or third wave – Waqainabete

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 27/05/2020
Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete says their testing is telling them there is no more presence of COVID-19 in our communities however they cannot afford a second or third wave of the disease.

While delivering his ministerial statement, Waqainabete says their testing for COVID-19 is beyond the World Health Organisation criteria as they are testing aggressively and widely.

He says all patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit with symptoms of severe acute respiratory illness have also been tested for COVID-19.

Waqainabete says in addition to this, they have identified 10 health facilities around the country to be sentinel testing sites for patients with respiratory symptoms for COVID-19, adding further surveillance capability.

He says as of yesterday, 2,431 tests have been conducted for COVID-19.

They are doing 121.5 tests per confirmed case and by this measure Waqainabete says Fiji compares favourably with the rest of the world where Australia does 133 tests per confirmed case and South Korea does 69.1 tests per confirmed case for COVID-19.

He says 40 fever clinics have so far seen 16,757 people as of yesterday while 142 people that were seen at these fever clinics were then required to have testing for COVID-19 and all results have been negative.

The mobile fever clinics where house to house visits were conducted saw 809,704 people getting screened.

Waqainabete says today marks 36 days since our last confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported.

While responding to Waqainabete’s statement, NFP’s President, Pio Tikoduadua says Fiji Airways staff and many thousands of victims of COVID-19 deserve government’s attention and assistance and they cannot use the COVID-19 excuse to compromise the health and well being of Fijians because of the inability of government.

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More job lay offs expected in the coming weeks in the tourism industry

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 26/05/2020

As the tourism and hotel business transitions into the next phase of survival, operators involved in the tourism industry will be considering extended Leave Without Pay options, terminations and redundancies in the coming weeks.

More than 150,000 people are directly or indirectly employed in the tourism industry.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association says tourism operators are struggling to continue holding on to staff with their current arrangements.

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Association CEO, Fantasha Lockington says they are optimistic that things will pick up eventually, however this may take months and even years to get to the visitor arrival levels that Fiji was used to.

Lockington says they are expecting a slow start, which in turn will translate to a smaller uptake in employment until the demand grows.

She says tourism has a proven capacity to bounce back and drive the recovery of other sectors.

For this to take place, Lockington says Fiji needs strong tourism businesses, a viable national airline and an innovative national tourism office; all of whom need nationwide support.

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She says the Association notes the increasing anxiety of their tourism members as the current options of reduced hours and Leave Without Pay timeframes are due for review in the next few weeks.

Lockington says while revenue earnings have ground to a halt since government shut the borders to protect Fiji’s population, expenses and operating costs still remain and there is great concern for businesses remaining viable during what is now looking to be a long drawn out hibernation period. She further says that with travel and tourism being very labour intensive it is expected that not only are many more jobs at risk, but that this will be felt throughout the whole tourism value chain.

Lockington also says of even greater concern is that we can also expect that this will affect the most vulnerable groups of the population such as women, youth and rural communities.

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She says they are hopeful that the Tourism Bubble discussions between our governments continue positively but there is a need to understand that this is not going to happen anytime soon until safety concerns are adequately addressed.



Government to guarantee Fiji Airways loans totaling $455 million

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 25/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Parliament has approved the motion by Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for the government to guarantee Fiji Airways loans totaling $455 million.

This includes domestic borrowings of up to FJ$191.1 million and off-shore borrowings of up to US$117.1 million.

This will be valid for 3 years effective from May 30th.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the FNPF is providing a loan of $53.6 million, the Reserve Bank of Fiji through the export finance facility loan will lend $75 million to the Fiji Development Bank which will then on-lend to Fiji Airways as RBF cannot do direct lending.

This will be at a rate of 3 percent, ANZ is providing $52 million in lending, Bred Bank is giving $10.5 million in the loan, DAE Capital is providing 9 months rental deferral of the two A-350s of $US20.2 million, Avalon is providing 9 months rental deferral of the A330-300s of $10.1 million, GCash has provided nine months rental deferral of two Boeing Max 8 of $8.9 million, KfW IPEX-Bank export credit agency is also providing 12 months loan repayment deferral on Max 8s which is $22.2 million.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Asian Development Bank will also provide a loan of US$50 million. He says the ADB draw-down will not take place unless and until the situation prolongs into next year.

He told parliament that despite earning near-zero revenue, Fiji Airways has to pay monthly fixed costs of $38 million and this comprises of aircraft loans and leases of $20.2 million, employee costs, fixed payments for aircraft maintenance, and other costs totalling $6 million.

He says in addition to the fixed costs, ongoing flight suspensions and cancellations are contributing towards increased customer refunds and even if tickets are being sold as non-refundable, Fiji Airways is obliged to refund customers as the service is not being delivered at all.

He adds that all expatriate pilots’ contracts have been terminated, and most of the Fijian pilots except for five will have their jobs as they need them and when they get any good news on international travel, these pilots will be used to fly our planes.

While contributing to the motion, SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro said the manner in which this motion has been brought to parliament is questionable and raises doubts about the intentions of the motion.

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National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says we should guarantee this loan as we do not have any option.

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However, Prasad says there are some pertinent questions that need to be answered about Fiji Airways' profits before the COVID-19 pandemic.



Fiji Airways terminates contracts of 758 employees, lets go of all expat pilots and some expat managers, and implements 20% pay cut

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 25/05/2020
Fiji Airways hanger at Nadi International Airport. [image: flicker]

The country’s national airline, Fiji Airways has today announced the termination of contracts of 758 of their staff, termination of contracts of their expatriate pilots and other management team members, and has also gone into negotiations regarding the loans of the airline company and raising debt finance.

Fiji Airways says in order to ensure the airline’s survival, given its critical and strategic importance to the Fijian economy, 51% of employees from across the Airline Group who do not have work today or in the foreseeable future have had their employment terminated. The company says the 758 workers will be paid a minimum notice period of 1 month (despite most employees having a two-week notice period), plus any accumulated leave and other entitlements.

All 79 expatriate pilots have had their contracts terminated and eight expatriate executives have had their employment terminated, with five expatriate staff remaining, including the CEO.

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The airline has six local executives, who will all retain their jobs and now constitute the majority of the leadership team. The responsibilities of the remaining executives and management have been expanded to absorb the work of those terminated.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen says these employee terminations are based on work available today and for the foreseeable future. Viljoen says these decisions have been carefully considered, and they have retained staff in operational areas who have critical skills, training and experience, including those who are required to carry out ongoing aircraft maintenance programmes, as well as all regulatory and safety-related post-holder positons as per Civil Aviation Authority requirements.

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Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen

Viljoen says a minimal level of staff is required in non-operational areas of the business in order to keep it functioning.

He says in all areas, they have retained staff based on objective and fair criteria such as performance, disciplinary record, and aptitude for the role.

Viljoen also says a 20% permanent salary reduction has been implemented for all retained employees effective 1st June 2020. He says in the short term, retained staff will work between 2 to 5 days per week, and will only be paid for actual days or hours worked.

The CEO also says that employees will be permitted to utilise annual leave days on days not worked, in order to top up their weekly pay.

The company says these workforce reduction measures will result in a 50% reduction in the company’s payroll cost base.

Viljoen says many of their dear colleagues affected by these reductions have contributed enormously to the airline over many years, and they owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

He says the measures they have announced today are painful and difficult, but ultimately necessary for the airline’s survival.

Viljoen says many large and respected airlines around the world are collapsing as a consequence of this unprecedented crisis.

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He says the company will do everything within their power to ensure that Fiji Airways does not suffer the same fate.

Viljoen says the adjustments are necessary and unavoidable as the COVID-19 crisis endures, causing the further suspension of scheduled international services and ensuring that the airline will receive virtually zero revenue in the coming months.

He says Fiji Airways is also negotiating with its lenders and aircraft lessors for loan and lease payment deferrals, and arranging debt finance from a number of financial institutions.

Fiji Airways has also recently extended the suspension of international flights through to the end of June, and is in the process of reducing scheduled flights for July and August.




Sayed-Khaiyum announces concessional loans for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 24/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has today announced concessional loans for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and people can put in their applications from 7th June.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that for new and existing micro-enterprises, they will be able to access up to $7,000 in a way of loan and the interest rate will be 0.5%.

He says that the loan repayment will have a payable term of five years whereby the first year will be a grace period where no interest will be applicable.

The Minister says they have come with a new scheme as to how assessments will be done adding they have been working with a number of stakeholders.

He adds that the applications will be assessed by the Business Assistance Fiji which will have institutions such as Fiji Institute of Accountants, Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Fiji Employers and Commerce Federation and the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism, Trade and Transport.

He says this Business Assistance Fiji will also provide help to people who will be looking at setting up new micro-enterprises.

Sayed-Khaiyum says for existing small enterprises who are facing difficulties, they can apply for loans of up to $14,000 with an interest rate of 1%.

He says the same five-year repayment term will apply.

The Minister adds that what they will do is work out an amount that needs to be repaid in a year and it will be up to the people how they do the repayment as long as they cover the amount set for a year.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that for the existing medium enterprises, they will be able to access loans of up to $21,000 with a concessional interest rate of 1.5%.

He adds that at the moment the concessional loans for small and medium enterprises is only available for existing businesses.



Man allegedly assaults Police officer after he was arrested for breach of curfew

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 24/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

A 23-year-old man from Waiyavi, Lautoka who was arrested for breaching curfew hours faces an additional charge of serious assault after he allegedly attacked a Police officer with an empty bottle.

The incident happened at Votualevu in Nadi.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the officer sustained minor injuries and has been treated and sent home.

Qiliho says breach of curfew reports continue to be recorded and between the hours of 10pm last night to 5am this morning, 35 cases have been recorded.

The Southern Division recorded 18, Eastern Division recorded 9, Western Division recorded 6 while the Northern and Central Divisions recorded 1 case each.

Qiliho says in the Southern Division, officers from the Raiwaqa Police Station while attending to a report of excessive noise arrested two women who were found walking along Leys Road in Raiwai last night.

He adds similar arrests were made in the Southern Division involving those found walking around during curfew hours were made along Fletcher Road, Nailuva Road, Jittu Estate, Rewa Street, Narara Street, Navua Town, Caubati and Nadera.




Fiji’s COVID-19 tracing mobile app expected to be ready by next week

By Semi Turaga
Friday 29/05/2020
Sayed-Khaiyum says they are harnessing the use of non-location tracking technology by using Bluetooth with privacy and security central for the design of the app. [Image: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]

Fiji’s COVID-19 tracing mobile app is expected to be ready by next week and Minister for Economy and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Care Fiji mobile app is based on a Bluetooth trace protocol developed by the Singaporean government.

He says the app mirrors the COVID Safe mobile app widely adopted by millions of Australians in their campaign to eliminate COVID-19.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they are harnessing the use of non-location tracking technology by using Bluetooth with privacy and security central for the design of the app.

He says they are currently doing tests on Google PlayStore and Apple Store and hope to finalise it by the end of this week.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they hope to have the Prime Minister launch it sometime next week.

He says the app works through Bluetooth technology and Bluetooth signals will bounce off each other and the Health Ministry won’t have access to that information.

Sayed-Khaiyum says in Fiji 92.5% of people who use phones have an android phone and 7.4% of the people have an Apple phone and the others have different systems which is 0.08%.




Police seek further legal advice before Soasoa man will be produced in court

By Iva Danford
Friday 29/05/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho confirms that their investigators will be seeking further legal advice before the 54-year-old man from Soasoa in Labasa will be produced in the Labasa Magistrates Court.

The accused returned from a religious gathering in India and allegedly spread COVID-19 to a few people in the country.

He has been charged with one count of failure to comply with orders.

Qiliho says the accused remains in custody.

The Ministry of Health had earlier confirmed they were able to trace a total of 834 people who had come into contact with the man who is the 9th case of COVID-19.




2,982 arrests for breach of COVID-19 related restrictions however there is a significant drop in other offences

By Iva Danford, Tifa Vataiki
Thursday 28/05/2020
Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho. [image: Fiji Police]

A total of 2,982 arrests for breaching COVID-19 related restrictions were made from March to yesterday however Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says there is a significant drop in other offences.

He says the total number of arrests in breach of social gathering so far is 1,586 while the total number of curfew breaches is 1,355.

Other arrests for other offences between March and yesterday was 37.

Qiliho also confirms that as they continue to monitor these breaches, other crimes are also on their radar like drugs.

He says Kadavu was thought to be the main supplier of marijuana, but suppliers have also moved into areas of Tailevu and Vanua Levu.

The Commissioner says with this in mind, they have introduced body cameras and drones to help them in monitoring.

Qiliho says they will be acquiring more drones and body cameras.

He also says the drug dealers are now being rattled as Police have a lot more information on how the drugs are being packed and distributed.

Qiliho says there are also social issues that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic and this is what they are working hard on as this can affect the criminal landscape, which will fall on the responsibilities of the police.




Bala calls on businesses to re-think how they are doing business

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 28/05/2020
Minister for Employment Praveen Bala and National Federation Party Leader Pro. Biman Prasad. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

Minister for Employment, Praveen Bala is calling on employers and corporate organisations to start thinking of ways and means of continuing or re-configuring their operations.

While delivering his ministerial statement, Bala says as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and current medical projections do not give them a concrete timeline, people need to continue to re-think how they are doing business and create lines of employment that work within the health realities and guidelines currently in place.

Bala adds that they have continued to negotiate where workers were affected to re-instate hourly rate on the minimum wage based on different sectors and for some redundant workers to be supplied with groceries for a period of time.

He says in addition, the government has given assistance through FNPF and other top-ups and financial support for micro and medium enterprises.

While responding to Bala’s statement, National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says there is a great need for the establishment of a Workers Solidarity Fund as he thinks the situation will worsen in the next six months.




Fiji’s 9th COVID-19 patient yet to be questioned for breach of Public Health Amendment Act

By Iva Danford
Thursday 28/05/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police are yet to interview the 54-year-old man from Soasoa in Labasa who returned from a religious gathering in India and spread COVID-19 to a few people in the country.

Investigators are still gathering statements from those who reside in Suva.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho also says the 27-year-old flight attendant from Lautoka who was the first confirmed COVID-19 case was questioned and released.

He says investigators are still waiting for more medical statements before proceeding.

According to the Public Health Amendment Act, a person faces upto $10,000 fine or 5 years imprisonment or both, for breaching the self-quarantine directives.

Fiji had 18 cases of COVID-19, 15 patients have recovered and 3 are still admitted in isolation facilities.




Magistrate discharges a person who breached the curfew as there are two conflicting decisions in the High Court regarding offences under the Public Health Act that need to be resolved by the Fiji Court of Appeal

By Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga
Thursday 28/05/2020

Suva Magistrate Jioji Boseiwaqa has discharged a person earlier charged with one count of disobedience of lawful order as he said that there are two conflicting decisions in the High Court regarding offences under the Public Health Act 2009 that need to be resolved by the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Sixtus Torokana was earlier charged with disobeying a lawful order by being found without reasonable cause at Rewa Street at 1.10 am on April 3rd this year within the curfew hours announced by the Prime Minister.

Torokana had pleaded guilty to the charge and also admitted the summary of facts.

Magistrate Boseiwaqa says the court has considered the defendant’s mitigation. He says Torokana is married at 38 years of age, is a graduate student at the university in forensic accounting, he works for Solomon Islands Ports Authority, pleaded guilty, is a first offender, showed remorse and cooperated with the Police.

The magistrate says he has considered the High Court decision by Justice Vincent Perera on April 16th, Justice Salesi Temo’s decision on May 14th and also considered the declaration and order of the Acting Chief Justice Kamal Kumar on May 18th purporting to review and rescind the judgement of Justice Temo.

Torokana has been discharged under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009.

Justice Perera’s decision

Court


On 16th April, 2020, High Court Judge Justice Vinsent Perera set aside the ruling of Nadi Magistrate, Siromi Turaga who had earlier acquitted two people charged with Failure to Comply with Orders of the Public Health Act.

Magistrate Turaga had said in his ruling that the prosecution is prosecuting the accused on a non-existent law and the charge is bad in law.

Justice Perera reviewed the magistrate’s ruling after the matter was handed to him for review by Acting Chief Justice Kamal Kumar.

Justice Perera set aside the orders made by Magistrate Turaga on the grounds that the charge did say the accused failed to comply with section 69(1)(c) of the Public Health Act 1935 and the Public Health (Infectious Disease Regulation, 2020), the orders were issued by the Ministry for Health, the magistrate should have allowed the prosecution to amend the charge by deleting "Prime Minister' to "Minister for Health"; and the implementation of curfew orders was approved by the Minister for Health and Medical Services.

Justice Perera also stated that the notice of the directives was given by the Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services via Extraordinary Gazette No.32 published on 4th April 2020.

Appeal on Justice Perera’s decision

A Petition of Appeal has been filed against the decision of High Court Judge Justice Vincent Perera to set aside the ruling of Nadi Magistrate Siromi Turaga.

It has been filed in the Court of Appeal by law firm Vosarogo Lawyers on behalf of the appellants Ravin Rohit Lal and Shalvin Chand.

These two men who had pleaded guilty in the Nadi Magistrates Court on 10th April were acquitted by Magistrate Turaga on 15th April.

Magistrate Turaga had ruled that even though the two men had pleaded guilty, they had pleaded guilty to a charge that was bad in law and the prosecution was prosecuting the accused on a non-existent law.

Under the particulars of the charge by Police, Lal and Chand on the 9th of April, 2020 in Nadi without lawful exercise failed to comply with orders of the Prime Minister of Fiji by breaking the curfew hours, an order that was deemed necessary for the protection of public health from an infectious disease, namely Novel Coronavirus.

In his judgement on 15th April, Magistrate Turaga said the prosecution is relying on a declaration by the Prime Minister but not made by the Minister of Health pursuant to his powers set out in section (69)1 of the principal Act nor made pursuant to the Public Health [Infectious Diseases] Regulation 2020.

Lal and Chand intend to appeal against the revision decision on several grounds.

The first ground is "that the learned judge erred in law in making the orders that it did, to the prejudice of the Appellants without giving them the opportunity to be heard either by themselves or by their lawyers as mandatory under Section 262(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009."

They are also appealing on the ground "that the learned judge was prevented by-law under section 262(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 from exercising revision jurisdiction on an order of acquittal by the Magistrates Court and that the proper course of action was for the State to appeal against the decision of the Magistrates Court, which procedure wasn't exercised."

The third ground is "that the learned trial Magistrate was correct in identifying that the charge was defectively pleaded and that no such application to amend was made by the State and as, the consequential result would have been an acquittal based on law."

Lal and Chand also want the revision judgement dated 16th April 2020 of the Suva High Court be set aside and the consequential orders therein be quashed as being manifestly unsafe, perverse and a miscarry of justice.

They also want the Court of Appeal to confirm the orders of acquittal of the Nadi Magistrates Court dated 15th April 2020.




Family Care and Paternity Leave days to be reduced during the COVID-19 period due to an Act of God

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 28/05/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

The Family Care Leave and Paternity Leave of 5 days each will be reduced to 2 days each during the COVID-19 period and resume to 5 days each when a decision is made by the Minister for Employment.

While tabling the Employment Relations bill in parliament, Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the bill seeks to amend the Act to provide for a more realistic work environment which enables the sustainability of jobs and businesses, and to clarify the meaning of “an act of God” in the act during the COVID-19 period. In this case, the “act of God” includes a pandemic declared by the World Health Organization.

The proposed changes include reducing the entitlement to paid Family Care Leave to 2 days, reducing the entitlement to Paternity Leave to 2 days during the COVID-19 period and providing for the transition to the reduced family care and paternity leave entitlements during the COVID-19 period.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says those who have taken more than 2 days of this leave will not be affected.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the increased maternity leave days will not be reduced. He also says annual leave, sick leave and bereavement leave days are also not affected.

Debate on the bill will take place this afternoon.




AG says they want Australia and New Zealand to change the narrative on the travel bubble

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 27/05/2020
Attotney General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service and Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [Image: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says what they are trying to get Australia and New Zealand to do is to change the narrative with regards to the travel bubble and to say they can open it to Fiji or respective countries within the Pacific region as opposed to treating everyone as a whole group.

Sayed-Khaiyum told parliament that the talk coming out from Wellington and Canberra is the Pacific will be included in the bubble but what Fiji has said is that different countries in the Pacific have different experiences and capacities pertaining to COVID-19.

He says Fiji is the only Pacific island country that actually has a WHO certified COVID-19 testing lab while all other pacific island countries sent all their swabs overseas.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the rate of testing in Fiji is also significantly higher and there have been no fatalities in Fiji.

He says as far as the conditions are concerned, they are hearing sometimes about having a health passport.




Two thirds of companies in Fiji surveyed by IFC believe COVID-19 has increased employees’ experiences of domestic and sexual violence

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 27/05/2020
The International Finance Corporation

Two thirds of companies in Fiji that were surveyed by the International Finance Corporation about the impact of COVID-19 believe the pandemic has increased employees’ experiences of domestic and sexual violence.

The International Finance Corporation is a member of the World Bank Group and the Fiji Human Resources Institute.

Fifteen companies were surveyed as part of an International Finance Corporation and Fiji Human Resources Institute webinar series called Rakorako: Building a Safe and Resilient Business to help the private sector address childcare demands and workplace responses to domestic and sexual violence.

According to the survey, some businesses had safe systems in place to allow their employees to work safely or use flexible options for work through providing laptops and mobile devices.

However, some businesses were not prepared for more complicated scenarios that might impact their employees such as an increase in childcare demands, clients’ aggression or domestic and sexual violence.

The survey also found that businesses needed support in mental health programs for employees, wage subsidies and financial support.

The findings will be discussed by businesses at the next session of the Rakorako webinars which will be held today and tomorrow.

Fiji Human Resources Institute President, Kameli Batiweti says employer supported childcare and workplace responses to domestic and sexual violence are relevant now more than ever to promote a safe and resilient business as companies cope with the impact of COVID-19.

He says overall, the survey found out that 93 percent of the businesses have been negatively affected by COVID-19 with main impacts centering around restrictions on operations, cuts in demand and in turnover or cash flow.

Batiweti says some companies have sent staff on leave and implemented home-based work.

He says COVID-19 has impacted the world all over and most economies are struggling to find solutions for the new normal.

International Finance Corporation Resident Representative for Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu, Deva De Silva says as businesses find solutions to survive, it is important they are also creating safe, family friendly and resilient workplaces.

FNPF Human Resources General Manager, Ravinesh Krishna says the Fiji National Provident Fund is providing counselling to its employees on parenting, domestic and sexual violence and financial stress management in COVID-19 times.

The series is built on the findings of two IFC reports released last year on the Business Case for Employer Supported Childcare in Fiji and the Business Case for Workplace Responses to Domestic and Sexual Violence.

IFC’s work in this area has been supported by the governments of Australia and New Zealand under the Fiji Partnership.




9 people arrested for breach of COVID-19 restrictions

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 27/05/2020

9 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for COVID-19 related breaches which includes people playing touch rugby.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says in the Northern Division, a 25-year-old man from Soasoa was arrested after Police pursued the suspect after he failed to stop his vehicle at a checkpoint.

Qiliho says four of the nine arrests were for breach of sporting activities in the Southern Division.

He says the four which included a 17-year-old juvenile were found playing touch rugby in Tacirua.

Qiliho further says 3 arrests were made in Tamavua-i-Wai whereby a woman and two men were found drunk and moving around during curfew hours.




FNPF pensioners to get $300 to $900 as COVID-19 Relief Payment

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 26/05/2020
Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi

More than 7,000 Fiji National Provident Fund pensioners will receive a COVID-19 relief payment today.

The payment, which ranges from $300 to $900, will be disbursed directly to the Fund’s active pensioners.

Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi said the Fund was able to provide this one-off payment to pensioners, following amendments to the FNPF Act.

Koroi says these amendments have allowed the Fund to distribute surpluses in the Retirement Income Fund to eligible pensioners.

He also says the provision of this relief for pensioners, is attributed to the successful Reform of the FNPF Pension Scheme in 2012.

The FNPF CEO says the Fund is now in a strong position to consider specific benefit improvements for the FNPF Pensioners and they are able to fund this relief assistance from the surplus in the Retirement Income Fund.

Pensioners who have received a pension payment up to 1st May 2020, will have their COVID-19 relief paid directly to their bank account or by pension order; whichever method they normally receive their monthly pension.

Those pensioners who have not received any monthly payment for March, April and May, will need to contact the Fund to verify and validate their accounts to enable them to access the COVID-19 payout.

Dependents and nominees of pensioners who have passed away, but the guaranteed pension payments are yet to be completed, will be eligible for this relief payment, however they must ensure their account status is active, in order to qualify.

Koroi also says that on Monday 1st June, the Fund will publicize the list of Pension IDs for pensioners whose accounts are suspended or inactive. These pensioners will need to contact the Fund before June 30th, 2020.




Government to guarantee Fiji Airways loans totaling $455 million

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 25/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Parliament has approved the motion by Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for the government to guarantee Fiji Airways loans totaling $455 million.

This includes domestic borrowings of up to FJ$191.1 million and off-shore borrowings of up to US$117.1 million.

This will be valid for 3 years effective from May 30th.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the FNPF is providing a loan of $53.6 million, the Reserve Bank of Fiji through the export finance facility loan will lend $75 million to the Fiji Development Bank which will then on-lend to Fiji Airways as RBF cannot do direct lending.

This will be at a rate of 3 percent, ANZ is providing $52 million in lending, Bred Bank is giving $10.5 million in the loan, DAE Capital is providing 9 months rental deferral of the two A-350s of $US20.2 million, Avalon is providing 9 months rental deferral of the A330-300s of $10.1 million, GCash has provided nine months rental deferral of two Boeing Max 8 of $8.9 million, KfW IPEX-Bank export credit agency is also providing 12 months loan repayment deferral on Max 8s which is $22.2 million.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Asian Development Bank will also provide a loan of US$50 million. He says the ADB draw-down will not take place unless and until the situation prolongs into next year.

He told parliament that despite earning near-zero revenue, Fiji Airways has to pay monthly fixed costs of $38 million and this comprises of aircraft loans and leases of $20.2 million, employee costs, fixed payments for aircraft maintenance, and other costs totalling $6 million.

He says in addition to the fixed costs, ongoing flight suspensions and cancellations are contributing towards increased customer refunds and even if tickets are being sold as non-refundable, Fiji Airways is obliged to refund customers as the service is not being delivered at all.

He adds that all expatriate pilots’ contracts have been terminated, and most of the Fijian pilots except for five will have their jobs as they need them and when they get any good news on international travel, these pilots will be used to fly our planes.

While contributing to the motion, SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro said the manner in which this motion has been brought to parliament is questionable and raises doubts about the intentions of the motion.

Aseri-sm

National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says we should guarantee this loan as we do not have any option.

Biman-Prasad-sm

However, Prasad says there are some pertinent questions that need to be answered about Fiji Airways' profits before the COVID-19 pandemic.




Hotels and resorts are empty but have to pay insurance premiums – Sayed-Khaiyum

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 25/05/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says during the COVID-19 situation, the only certainty we have is the uncertainty.

He made this comment while speaking on the debate on Reserve Bank of Fiji Insurance 2017 Annual Report where Sayed-Khaiyum stated that there is a big issue in the tourism sector where hotels and resorts are empty but they have to pay insurance premiums.


Sayed-Khaiyum says no revenue is being generated, however these hotels and resorts have to pay premiums.

Sayed-Khaiyum says some of the insurance companies are working with these businesses.




Fiji Airways to make formal statement today after some workers report that more than 700 workers have been asked to go home

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 25/05/2020

Fiji’s international carrier, Fiji Airways will release a formal statement later today as reports are coming in from the workers that more than 700 airline workers are being let go from the company due to the effects of COVID-19 and closure of the international borders.

FijiVillage has been contacted by some cabin crew members who have received their termination letters, and being asked to return all the airline company’s property within 48 hours.

Fiji Airways employs upto 1,500 workers.

Stay with us as we are waiting for the statement from Fiji Airways.




Man arrested for breach of curfew after found hiding in a drain in Nabua

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 25/05/2020

A man was arrested for breach of curfew last night after he was found hiding in a drain near the Muslim League Settlement in Nabua.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the 27-year-old man is one of the 14 that was arrested in the Southern Division for breaching curfew hours. The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.

In total, 16 arrests were made last night. The Northern and Western Divisions both recorded a case each.

Other arrests made in the Southern Division include a 40-year-old man who was found to be allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol when stopped by officers at a checkpoint in Pacific Harbour.

Two passengers aged 30 and 35 years of old were also arrested.




Restrictions and health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t dampen Eid celebration - NFP

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 24/05/2020
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad

National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says restrictions and health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t dampen the celebration of Eid.

In his Eid Message, Professor Prasad says the celebration of Eid is a significant event in our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

He says fasting is an act of both seeking purification and making a sacrifice for the blessings of the almighty for peace, unity and prosperity.

The NFP Leader adds thus, Eid is a celebration about seeking righteousness taking the solemn pledge to lead a righteous life.

He says this is an occasion to also remember the pioneer leaders of the Islamic community in Fiji adding they also acknowledge the immense contributions made by the Muslim community in the development of Fiji.

Professor Prasad further says they perfectly understand that COVID-19 and austerity measures prevent the Muslim community from celebrating Eid with fanfare and with friends and relatives like previous years.

He adds while it shouldn’t dampen spirits, it is important for all of us look after our families and share what we have with those who are less fortunate and underprivileged.

He says they also note the restrictions that have been put in place as travel bans and lockdowns stranding family members relatives in various parts of the country and the world.

He adds but that does not take away the significance of Eid and the sacrifices made during the month of Ramadan.




47 people arrested for curfew breaches

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 23/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

47 arrests were made last night for curfew breaches.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 5 men were arrested in the Northern Division for failure to comply with orders and also face additional charges for allegedly resisting arrest.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 17 arrests, the Eastern Division recorded 11 while the Western Division recorded 14.

Qiliho adds that in the Southern Division a taxi driver and a farmer were arrested in Navua after producing an expired inter-island bus ticket to officers manning checkpoints.

He is advising people to plan their activities well and avoid being caught out during curfew hours.




Fijian Police officer currently in India tests positive for COVID-19 – Qiliho

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 22/05/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho. [image: file]

A Fijian Police Officer who is currently in India with his family has tested positive for COVID-19.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the officer who is based at the Labasa Police Station flew to New Delhi, India on the 13th of February accompanying his wife and daughter who was to undergo medical treatment.

He says on the 18th of May, medical clearance tests were conducted and the results which came out on the 21st of May returned positive for the Police Officer, and results for his wife and daughter returned negative.

Qiliho says they have communicated his status to the Permanent Secretary for Health.

The Police Officer is now admitted at the Max Hospital in New Delhi and is in stable condition.




A travel bubble that includes Fiji with Australia and New Zealand would do far more good than any aid or assistance - Sayed-Khaiyum

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 22/05/2020
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [image: Fijian Govt]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says a travel bubble that includes Fiji alongside Australia and New Zealand would do far more good than any aid or assistance.

Fiji wants to join Australia and New Zealand's plans for a coronavirus-safe travel bubble, proposing a restart to South Pacific tourism and temporary worker programs.

Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this month agreed to create a trans-Tasman tourism zone, allowing flights between the two countries as soon as coronavirus lockdowns are eased.

Sayed-Khaiyum has proposed Fiji be included, taking advantage of any move to restart international travel more than a month after Fiji's last confirmed COVID-19 case.

He told The Australian Financial Review the country was on the way to eliminating local community-based transmission, having successfully used border closures, aggressive contact tracing, isolation rules and World Health Organisation-certified testing.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji is also developing a bluetooth-based contact tracing application, based on the COVIDSafe app designed for the Australian government.

He says we embarked on the largest health mobilisation campaign in Fijian history, with nearly 95 per cent of our population screened by medical teams going door to door to take temperatures and check for symptoms.

Sayed-Khaiyum says we’re incredibly grateful for the help of our larger regional neighbours, Fijians yearn to swim sustainably, not just be kept afloat. The Australian Financial Review says any move to include Fiji could also help fill labour shortages in New Zealand and Australia, with the Fijian government also eager to attract manufacturing and supply-line businesses.

Urbis chief economist Richard Gibbs says the Australia-New Zealand bubble would boost confidence and help restore some of the AUD$19 billion two-way trade between the nations.

Ardern and Morrison have warned implementing any new travel arrangements would take months.

Australia’s Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has said broader international travel was likely not possible for the rest of 2020.




Schools to remain closed until no cases of COVID-19 in Fiji

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Friday 22/05/2020

Schools will be closed until there are no more COVID-19 cases in Fiji.

This has been highlighted by Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama during his visit to the island of Vatulele.

Bainimarama says one reason why schools are closed for a long period is that children can transmit this virus easily to their elders and this is why the government is always urging children to stay away from their elders.

He says this virus is similar to a tsunami where those that are fit can survive and those that are weak will perish.

The Prime Minister adds we are fortunate that the Health Ministry has done a good job in combating this virus, where no fatalities have been recorded.

He says Fiji had 18 cases of COVID-19, 15 patients have recovered and 3 are still admitted in isolation facilities.

School is expected to resume on the 15th of next month.



33 days without a new COVID-19 case – PM

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 21/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji has gone 33 days without recording a new COVID-19 case.

Bainimarama says they are working with all stakeholders including the private sector to develop a long term containment strategy which upholds the health of every Fijian and instills confidence in our citizens, businesses and our international partners that Fiji is responsibly managing a return to normalcy.


The Prime Minister further says as soon as they decide there is a manageable risk to resume recreational contact sports, he will let the people know.

Bainimarama adds when it is safe to do so , we will resume full scale sporting tournaments in a way that puts the well-being of fans and athletes first.




Plan your activities in advance to avoid getting caught moving around during the curfew hours from 10pm to 5am - Qiliho

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 22/05/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho is reiterating the call to people to plan their activities well in advance to avoid getting caught moving around during the curfew hours from 10 pm to 5 am, as they will be arrested.

21 people were arrested over the last 24 hours which included 5 for breach of sporting activities.

The 5 arrested include a 16-year-old juvenile as they were found playing touch rugby at the Nasole Grounds.

The Southern Division recorded 15 breach of curfew arrests while the Western Division recorded 1 case.

5 of those arrested for breach of curfew were heavily intoxicated at the time of arrest and were trying to get back to their homes.

Qiliho says restrictions on sporting activities remain and will only change once an official announcement is made.




Fiji one of few countries poised to completely eradicate community-based transmission of COVID-19 - PM

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 21/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says they are working with all stakeholders including the private sector to develop a long term containment strategy which upholds the health of every Fijian and instills confidence in our citizens, businesses and our international partners that Fiji is responsibly managing a return to normalcy.

Bainimarama says Fiji has gone 33 days without recording a new COVID-19 case.

The Prime Minister further says that makes us of the few countries on Earth poised to completely eradicate community-based transmission of COVID-19.

He adds but we cannot afford for our health protection measures to end as quickly as they were first introduced.

Bainimarama says as soon as they decide there is a manageable risk to resume recreational contact sports, he will let the people know.

Bainimarama adds when it is safe to do so, we will resume full scale sporting tournaments in a way that puts the well-being of fans and athletes first.




Beware of street-smart professional beggars trying to take advantage of the current situation – Dept of Social Welfare

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 21/05/2020

The Department of Social Welfare says if you are able to assist a person in need please do so however do verify their claims as there are street-smart people out there who know how to get to the hearts of the people and take advantage of the current situation.

While there are genuine cases on the ground, Director Rupeni Fatiaki has also highlighted cases of a man being dropped off every morning to beg on the streets and then picked up every afternoon by his son, people owning properties however still begging on the streets, youths and adults begging to get money for drugs and those people who have relatives who can look after them however they prefer to stay on the streets.

Many people have also started using children to move around with them to ask for money.

People are asked to verify these cases.

He says the genuine people also want to get out of poverty and do not want to sit on the streets all their lives.

The beggars are categorised as professional beggars, mentally challenged cases, social welfare recipients, child beggars, the homeless, and part-time beggars who move around during major events.




78% recovery rate has successfully broken the chain of COVID-19 transmission in Fiji- Dr. Waqainabete

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Thursday 21/05/2020
Minister for Health Dr.Ifereimi Waqainabete

Fiji’s COVID-19 recovery rate is at 78% and this has successfully broken the chain of transmission of the virus.

This was highlighted by Minister for Health Dr.Ifereimi Waqainabete as he addressed the 73rd Session of the World Health Assembly via the virtual de minimis platform.

Dr Waqainabete says that the COVID-19 pandemic was an extraordinary event for all humanity and has brought suffering to countless families and communities across the globe.

He also acknowledged the strong and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Fijian government which enabled Fiji’s effective containment of the pandemic.

The Health Minister stressed that the World Health Organisation including the global leaders should focus not only on the pandemic but more so on the other issues confronting the global community such as the impact of climate change.

The 73rd session of the WHA was officially opened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres where he stressed to world leaders that despite the call for solidarity, very little has been achieved and that COVID-19 was a wake-up call for all, saying that if the world cannot address this virus, the economy can never recover.

Guterres also called upon all leaders to take responsibility to provide a stronger and resilient society and have human rights in all that they do, including the continuous battle and commitment to address the climate risks among the vulnerable community.

Other notable leaders including President Xi Jinping of China, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea also addressed the floor during the opening segment and impressed on the urgent need for global solidarity now than ever before.

The main agenda for this virtual WHO Session this year firstly is to coordinate a global response amongst Health and Political leaders to address the COVID-19 pandemic and second, to ensure that the governance mechanism of the organization continues through the appointment of new Executive Board members including the review and approval of the proposed program budget.




Police arrest drunk truck driver during curfew hours

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 21/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Fourteen arrests were made last night for breach of the nationwide curfew hours.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says one case in particular involved a 52 year old heavy goods truck driver who was arrested in Korovou after 11pm as he was allegedly found driving under the influence of alcohol.

Qiliho says upon checking the suspect’s documents issued by employers as proof to indicate that he was supposed to be moving around between the hours of 10pm to 5am, officers discovered the suspect to be drunk.

The driver was arrested and is currently in custody.

Qiliho says this was the lone case recorded in the Eastern Division, while the Southern Division recorded 11 cases, whereas the Northern and Southern Divisions recorded one case each.

He says officers will be coming down hard on those using authorised documents issued by their employees to move around other than for its intended purpose.




Four juveniles allegedly breach curfew

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 20/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Four juveniles were arrested in the Southern Division in the last 24 hours for breach of curfew.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says of the 18 arrests made, four were juveniles aged 16 and 17 years old.

He says the juveniles were arrested by a team of officers on beat patrol along the road near the Delai Nabuni Settlement in Cunningham.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 15 of the 18 arrests made for breaching the nationwide curfew hours.

The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.

The Western, Eastern, and Northern Divisions all recorded one report of breach of curfew each.




Lower earnings for Fiji in the first quarter of 2020 - RBF

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 19/05/2020
Tourism earnings declined by 19.3 percent [Image: Fiji Airways]

Tourism earnings declined by 19.3 percent over the first quarter of this year to $522.5 million, due to reduced earnings from New Zealand and Australia.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji also states that lower prices of fruits, vegetables and yaqona underpinned the -2.8 percent March annual inflation outcome, lower than the -0.9 percent in December.

The RBF confirms that holdings of foreign reserves were $2.198 billion at the end of March 2020, sufficient to cover 6.9 months of retained imports of goods and non-factor services.




Fijian economy is expected to decline more sharply than -4.3%

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 19/05/2020
Reserve Bank of Fiji [Image: File Photo]

The Reserve Bank of Fiji has stated that the national economy is now expected to decline more sharply than the earlier estimate of -4.3% on account of the catastrophic impact of COVID-19.

In it’s latest quarterly report for 2020, the RBF says with travel restrictions and border closures imposed by Fiji’s major trading partner countries, the tourism industry along with the broader economy is expected to be severely affected.

The RBF says the economic contraction this year is in line with the anticipated recession in all major trading partner countries, except for China and India.

The Reserve Bank further says that the halt in tourism activity and its negative effects on other key sectors are expected to hinder growth during the year.

While efforts have been made to ensure supply chains are not affected, weak domestic demand and softening business confidence will be a drag on economic activity going forward.

Anaemic labour market conditions, reflected in reduced working hours and job losses, especially in tourism and related sectors, will also result in weak consumer spending in the short to medium term.

The stalling of large construction projects and slowdown in Government capital projects will also be a drag on construction, real estate and investment activities in 2020.

The Reserve Bank also confirms that tax revenue collections by Government are anticipated to fall significantly this year given the weak domestic and global economy.

To cushion the impact of a deep and prolonged recession, the RBF says it lowered its Overnight Policy Rate to 0.25 percent and recalibrated an existing lending facility to support businesses facing financing difficulties.

The Overnight Policy Rate is the interest rate at which a depository institution lends immediately available funds (balances within the central bank) to another depository institution overnight.

It also states that the Government announced fiscal stimulus initiatives by increasing funding to priority sectors and offering tax concessions to businesses.

The RBF says in light of these expansionary policies, the Fijian economy is expected to recover in 2021. However, the expected recovery is dependent on the resumption of global travel and trade, lifting of local restrictions and effectiveness of policy responses.




Muslims urged to monitor people visiting them on Eid to control crowding

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 19/05/2020
Eid is expected to be celebrated this weekend. [Image: File Photo]

The Fiji Muslim League is urging families to strictly monitor maximum gathering restrictions in their homes as people will be visiting their friends and families during Eid.

The League says people must take note that congregating in groups always has the risk of exceeding 20 people and has the potential of violating the social distancing rules.

They are also strongly recommending members to offer Eid prayers with families at homes as places of worship remain closed as per the government directive.

Meanwhile, League President Haji Hafizud Dean Khan says all Muslims are advised to break their fast at home with their household family members only.

Meanwhile, Eid is expected to be celebrated this weekend.




Badminton, Squash and Bowling now permitted- Qiliho

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 19/05/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says following further consultation and clarification on the sports that will be permitted,  non-contact sports namely Badminton, Squash and Bowling will now be permitted.

Qiliho says as most of these sports are played at their respective clubs, operators are warned that their bars must remain closed and there is to be no sale of alcohol.

Qiliho had earlier confirmed that people can play single non-contact sports like golf, tennis and volleyball.

However, he had stressed that the clubs are to remain closed.

He says those intending to get together for a friendly volleyball match are advised to limit the numbers to those playing and watching to less than 20 as any number above 20 will be considered a breach.

Qiliho says contact sports like touch rugby, soccer, basketball and others are still not allowed to be played.




12 breach of curfew arrests

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 19/05/2020
12 arrests were made in the last 24 hours for breach of curfew. [Image: Fiji Police Force]

12 arrests were made in the last 24 hours for breach of curfew.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Western Division recorded four cases while South recorded eight cases.

He says there were no cases recorded in the remaining three divisions.

Qiliho says while the reduction in numbers and the zero number of cases recorded in three other divisions is commendable, they know that the number can be reduced further.

The Police Commissioner says trends have shown that at the beginning of the week the number of arrests is usually low and as we head towards the end of the week and into the weekend, numbers spike again and the arrests can be avoided if people adhere to the nation-wide curfew hours from 10pm to 5am.




500 Jacks staff are jobless from today

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 19/05/2020
Jacks of Fiji

500 Jacks employees have been let go from today.

Jacks of Fiji had issued the notice of termination on the 20th of April.

Some staff who are part of the 500 workers who now do not have a job were being paid for 10 hours known as COVID-19 hours at a reduced rate.

CEO, Bhavin Khatri is yet to respond to these claims.

We were provided payslips where it showed an employee who was previously paid $3.64 an hour was being paid $3.12 an hour.

Khatri had said that he would not comment however they will issue a press release in due course which will answer the queries.

Khatri had earlier said that a significant number of employees are being impacted as their business is predominantly tourism related.

The company has outlined the redundancy package these staff are receiving.

They will be given one week’s pay per completed year of service provided they have completed a year of service while one week’s pay will be given for the staff who have not completed the one year of service.

The ex gratia payment would have been paid for the last 4 weeks.

900 workers continue to stay employed at Jacks Fiji.




Visitor arrivals at 678 for April due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 18/05/2020
From the 678 visitors that came in last month, 6 came by air while 672 came by sea. [Image: Fiji Airways]

The provisional numbers show that visitor arrivals to Fiji for April 2020 totaled 678.

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics says this decrease in numbers can be attributed to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on international travel due to closure of most international airports.

In comparison, in 2019, visitor arrival numbers for April stood at 76,813.

From the 678 visitors that came in last month, 6 came by air while 672 came by sea.

The sea visitor arrivals were mostly seamen on fishing vessels, who were already in Fiji waters when international travel was restricted.

Meanwhile a total of 7,608 Fiji residents departed our shores during the month of March of which 5,855 or 77 percent were for a short-term absence of under three months and 1,122 or 14.7% were for over three months and within 12 months period.




Police get legal advice in Veiraisi church service case

By Semi Turaga
Monday 18/05/2020
24 breach of curfew arrests were recorded from 10pm to 5am this morning. [Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Police are getting legal advice before taking further action in the case where 13 people were allegedly found conducting a church service in Veiraisi near Nadawa in Nasinu yesterday at a place of worship.

Social gatherings of 20 people or fewer are allowed while places of worship are not allowed to open as announced by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says all of the 13 people have been released.

Qiliho says investigators will be forwarding their case file for legal advice.

He says a total of 37 arrests were made in the last 24 hours and the majority were found sitting around at bus shelters or by the side of the road for absolutely no valid reason.

24 breach of curfew arrests were recorded from 10pm to 5am this morning.

The Southern Division recorded 13 cases, the Western Division recorded 5 cases, the Eastern Division recorded 4 cases while 2 cases were recorded in the Central Division.




13 people questioned and released for church service at place of worship

By Semi Turaga
Monday 18/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

13 people have been questioned and released after they were allegedly found conducting a church service in Veiraisi yesterday at a place of worship.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says all 13 have been released as investigators will be forwarding their case file for legal advise.

A total of 37 arrests were made in the last 24 hours and the majority were found sitting around at bus shelters or by the side of the road for absolutely no valid reason.

24 breach of curfew arrests were recorded from 10pm to 5am this morning.

The Southern Division recorded 13 cases, the Western Division recorded 5 cases, the Eastern Division recorded 4 cases while 2 cases were recorded in the Central Division.




12 students who were arrested for allegedly playing soccer released on bail

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 17/05/2020
3 of the 12 students that appeared in court today for breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

12 tertiary students who were arrested for playing soccer at the Queen Elizabeth Drive beachfront on Friday have been released on bail.

All students who are from Vanuatu appeared before Suva Magistrate, Liyanage Wickramasekara today.

All have been released on a bail bond of $2000 and have been ordered not to re-offend.

A 7pm to 7am curfew has also been imposed on them and they have been ordered not to leave Viti Levu without the courts permission.

The court was told that the students found out through social media that the ban on playing contact sports had been lifted and they were allowed to play.

Magistrate Wickramasekara reminded them that laws in this country are not imposed through social media and as university students they should be well aware of it.

He says they had ample time to know that there is a complete ban on all contact sports.

The case will be called on the 31st of July.




No one should be treated unfairly or subjected to any form of harm and abuse during COVID-19 pandemic - Haus of Khameleon

By Dhanjay Deo
Sunday 17/05/2020

The Haus of Khameleon, a movement that is led by transgender women says that no one should be treated unfairly or subjected to any form of harm and abuse nor left behind, because of who they are or who they love during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The Haus of Khameleon is urging government and other stakeholders, to give visibility to and protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual, non binary and pansexual persons during the COID-19 pandemic.

The Director of Haus of Khameleon, Miki Wali says as they mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, this year’s theme on “Breaking the Silence” is timely given that the Fiji LGBTQI community is still reeling from the horrendous killings of two young members of their community in 2017 and 2018, with the cases still being investigated as they await justice to be served.

Wali says it is critical to ensure that the Fiji Police Force continue this investigation without delay, as justice delayed is justice denied.

Iosefo Magnus was found brutally murdered at the Vesida shortcut off Caubati and 23yr old USP student Akuila Salavuki was found dead along the Suva foreshore.

Police Spokesperson, Ana Naisoro says the Caubati murder case is open and still being investigated.

Naisoro says cases are not given a specific time frame for when it should be completed as some take longer than others and there are other cases of interest that are still open and still under investigation.

She says in the Suva foreshore case, the accused was acquitted by the court.

We have asked if the case will be reopened as the killer may still be out there.

Police are expected to provide a confirmation on this later.

Meanwhile, Wali adds that in Fiji, it is clear that the 2013 Constitution prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression and it is imperative that the state and all other actors fully recognize this aspect.

Wali says given Fiji’s recent appointment as Vice Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the state has a responsibility to also uphold, respect, promote and protect human rights for everyone in Fiji.

Wali says over the past decades, protection of LGBTIQA+ people and all people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions and sex characteristics, has greatly expanded.

Wali says this year in Fiji is also the 10th Anniversary since Fiji, became the first Pacific Island nation to decriminalize Homosexuality.

The Haus of Khameleon will be coordinating an online engagement with response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for Transgender and Gender non-conforming people in Fiji called #TransActionFiji.

This is a campaign to break the silence and provide spotlight on the multiple and intersecting forms of injustice and inequalities Transgender and Gender Non-conforming people experience but also to share messages of hope, resilience and solidarity to fellow LGBTIQA+ Fijians.




38 arrests made last night for curfew breach

By Iva Danford
Sunday 17/05/2020

38 arrests were made last night for breach of curfew regulations.

There were no arrests in the Central Division.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded 21 arrests.

Most people were found walking around after 10pm for no valid reason.

Qiliho says the Western Division recorded 9 arrests, Eastern Division recorded five arrests and the Northern Division recorded 3 arrests.

He says no juvenile was arrested over the last 24 hour period.

The Commissioner stressed that the nationwide curfew remains from 10pm to 5am and unless it is a medical emergency or someone has a valid reason such as work to be moving around with a signed letter indicating hours of work, people must stay home.

Qiliho says people should plan their time well and if they are at social functions when the clock strikes 10pm, they should be prepared to spend the night at that location as people will only be allowed to move again at 5am, the next morning.



12 arrested for playing soccer at Queen Elizabeth Drive beachfront

By Iva Danford
Saturday 16/05/2020

12 arrests were made for breach of sporting activities in the Central Division as a group of men were found playing soccer at the Queen Elizabeth Drive beachfront yesterday afternoon.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says 52 arrests were made in the last 24 hours with breach of curfew arrests topping the list with 40 cases.

There were 20 arrests in the Western Division, Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded 17 arrests and Eastern Division recorded 3 arrests.

Qiliho is urging those who still need clarification regarding the restrictions to call the Police National Command Center on 9905 296.




Single non contact sports like golf, tennis and volleyball allowed but their clubs cannot open

By Vijay Narayan, Dhanjay Deo
Friday 15/05/2020
People can play single non-contact sports like golf, tennis and volleyball. [image: Fiji Volleyball]

People can play single non-contact sports like golf, tennis and volleyball.

However, Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho stresses that the clubs are to remain closed.

He says those intending to get together for a friendly volleyball match are advised to limit the numbers to those playing and watching to less than 20 as any number above 20 will be considered a breach.

Qiliho says contact sports like touch rugby, soccer, basketball and others are still not allowed to be played.

All health-protective measures remain as the government wants to ensure Fiji does not have a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji currently has 3 active COVID-19 cases and 15 cases have fully recovered.

Bainimarama has announced that the nationwide curfew will remain in effect from 10pm until 5am every day.

He also says social gatherings must be limited to 20 people or fewer.

Gyms, nightclubs, cinemas and swimming pools will remain closed, as will houses of worship. Schools will also remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020.

The Prime Minister says existing quarantine protocols will remain in place, including for Fijians returning from overseas. These repatriating Fijians will immediately enter 14 days of quarantine in government-funded facilities.

At the end of the 14 day period, if they test negative for the virus, they can complete their remaining 14 days of self-quarantine at home.

Bainimarama says China is already seeing a second wave of infections and Europe is bracing for the same.

He stresses we cannot risk a second wave of Fijian infections; that is why, for the time being, all of the health protection directives will remain in full effect.



Health directives remain in relation to COVID-19 to avoid second wave of cases – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 15/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. [image: Fijian Govt]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that the health directives will remain for now as Fiji does not want to risk a second wave of COVID-19.

Fiji currently has 3 active COVID-19 cases and 15 cases have fully recovered.

Bainimarama has announced that the nationwide curfew will remain in effect from 10pm until 5am every day.

He also says social gatherings must be limited to 20 people or fewer. Gyms, nightclubs, cinemas and swimming pools will remain closed, as will houses of worship. Contact sports are still not allowed to be played. Schools will also remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020.

The Prime Minister says existing quarantine protocols will remain in place, including for Fijians returning overseas. These repatriating Fijians will immediately enter 14 days of quarantine in government funded facilities. At the end of the 14 day period, if they test negative for the virus, they can complete their remaining 14 days of self-quarantine at home.

Bainimarama says China is already seeing a second wave of infections and Europe is bracing for the same.

He stresses we cannot risk a second wave of Fijian infections; that is why, for the time being, all of the health protection directives will remain in full effect.

Gradual scale-back in the next few weeks but the good health habits should remain - PM

The Prime Minister has confirmed that in the coming weeks, they will finalise the game plan for a gradual scale-back of some of health protection directives.

Voreqe Bainimarama says no matter how confident we are that this virus has been defeated, the most critical restrictions aren’t going anywhere.

He says the good habits that we’ve picked up over the past few months – physical distancing, regular handwashing, staying home or wearing face masks when we’re sick, not sharing takis and bilos, and keeping a clean working environment – must become new ways of Fijian life.

Bainimarama says we cannot risk falling back into life-risking bad habits.

More than 800,000 Fijians screened and new contact tracing app developed

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says they have already health screened over 800,000 Fijians through the largest healthcare mobilisation campaign in Fijian history, and in the coming weeks they will massively step-up testing as well.

Bainimarama says under the digitalFIJI initiative, a mobile app called “careFIJI” has been developed that will harness our phones’ Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective. He says it will do so all while protecting the privacy of the user. Bainimarama says if enough Fijians use careFIJI, they will be able to avoid large-scale lockdowns entirely. He says more importantly, widespread adoption of careFIJI will help save lives, bring back jobs, and increase confidence among our tourism and trading partners.

The Prime Minister says this app comes from the very same technology that has been widely adopted by millions of Singaporeans and Australians in their own fights to contain the virus - meaning that its success will help pave the way to safely re-opening our borders to visitors.

He says when that day comes, tourists will be able to download careFIJI upon landing, giving them the confidence that Fiji has COVID-19 firmly under control. They are aiming to launch a pilot programme of the app as soon as they get approval from the Android PlayStore and Apple AppStore.

Bainimarama says the government needs you to download this app when it’s available, just as they need you to continue to adhere to every one of the life-saving directives.

More than 1,000 tests have also been done so far.

Minister for Economy to announce more support for the unemployed in partnership with the FNPF

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says early next week, the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will announce the second round of COVID-19 unemployment benefits to be paid out in partnership with FNPF to aid those Fijians whose employers have been severely impacted by this crisis.

Bainimarama says they are also closely monitoring and working with businesses in various sectors and financial institutions to provide targeted support.

He says the coronavirus is the challenge of our generation.

Bainimarama says if the campaign presses onwards to total victory, when the history books recount the difficulty of this period, they will tell of how Fijians led the way in beating this virus for good.

Bainimarama says we cannot risk falling back into life-risking bad habits.




More than 800,000 Fijians screened and new contact tracing app developed

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 15/05/2020
Bainimarama says under the digitalFIJI initiative, a mobile app called “careFIJI” has been developed that will harness our phones’ Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says they have already health screened over 800,000 Fijians through the largest healthcare mobilisation campaign in Fijian history, and in the coming weeks they will massively step-up testing as well.

Bainimarama says under the digitalFIJI initiative, a mobile app called “careFIJI” has been developed that will harness our phones’ Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective.

He says it will do so all while protecting the privacy of the user. Bainimarama says if enough Fijians use careFIJI, they will be able to avoid large-scale lockdowns entirely.

He says more importantly, widespread adoption of careFIJI will help save lives, bring back jobs, and increase confidence among our tourism and trading partners.

The Prime Minister says this app comes from the very same technology that has been widely adopted by millions of Singaporeans and Australians in their own fights to contain the virus - meaning that its success will help pave the way to safely re-opening our borders to visitors.

He says when that day comes, tourists will be able to download careFIJI upon landing, giving them the confidence that Fiji has COVID-19 firmly under control.

They are aiming to launch a pilot programme of the app as soon as they get approval from the Android PlayStore and Apple AppStore.

Bainimarama says the government needs you to download this app when it’s available, just as they need you to continue to adhere to every one of the life-saving directives.

More than 1,000 tests have also been done so far.



Health directives remain in relation to COVID-19 to avoid second wave of cases – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 15/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. [image: Fijian Govt]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that the health directives will remain for now as Fiji does not want to risk a second wave of COVID-19.

Fiji currently has 3 active COVID-19 cases and 15 cases have fully recovered.

Bainimarama has announced that the nationwide curfew will remain in effect from 10pm until 5am every day.

He also says social gatherings must be limited to 20 people or fewer. Gyms, nightclubs, cinemas and swimming pools will remain closed, as will houses of worship. Contact sports are still not allowed to be played. Schools will also remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020.

The Prime Minister says existing quarantine protocols will remain in place, including for Fijians returning overseas. These repatriating Fijians will immediately enter 14 days of quarantine in government funded facilities. At the end of the 14 day period, if they test negative for the virus, they can complete their remaining 14 days of self-quarantine at home.

Bainimarama says China is already seeing a second wave of infections and Europe is bracing for the same.

He stresses we cannot risk a second wave of Fijian infections; that is why, for the time being, all of the health protection directives will remain in full effect.

Gradual scale-back in the next few weeks but the good health habits should remain - PM

The Prime Minister has confirmed that in the coming weeks, they will finalise the game plan for a gradual scale-back of some of health protection directives.

Voreqe Bainimarama says no matter how confident we are that this virus has been defeated, the most critical restrictions aren’t going anywhere.

He says the good habits that we’ve picked up over the past few months – physical distancing, regular handwashing, staying home or wearing face masks when we’re sick, not sharing takis and bilos, and keeping a clean working environment – must become new ways of Fijian life.

Bainimarama says we cannot risk falling back into life-risking bad habits.

More than 800,000 Fijians screened and new contact tracing app developed

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says they have already health screened over 800,000 Fijians through the largest healthcare mobilisation campaign in Fijian history, and in the coming weeks they will massively step-up testing as well.

Bainimarama says under the digitalFIJI initiative, a mobile app called “careFIJI” has been developed that will harness our phones’ Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective. He says it will do so all while protecting the privacy of the user. Bainimarama says if enough Fijians use careFIJI, they will be able to avoid large-scale lockdowns entirely. He says more importantly, widespread adoption of careFIJI will help save lives, bring back jobs, and increase confidence among our tourism and trading partners.

The Prime Minister says this app comes from the very same technology that has been widely adopted by millions of Singaporeans and Australians in their own fights to contain the virus - meaning that its success will help pave the way to safely re-opening our borders to visitors.

He says when that day comes, tourists will be able to download careFIJI upon landing, giving them the confidence that Fiji has COVID-19 firmly under control. They are aiming to launch a pilot programme of the app as soon as they get approval from the Android PlayStore and Apple AppStore.

Bainimarama says the government needs you to download this app when it’s available, just as they need you to continue to adhere to every one of the life-saving directives.

More than 1,000 tests have also been done so far.

Minister for Economy to announce more support for the unemployed in partnership with the FNPF

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says early next week, the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will announce the second round of COVID-19 unemployment benefits to be paid out in partnership with FNPF to aid those Fijians whose employers have been severely impacted by this crisis.

Bainimarama says they are also closely monitoring and working with businesses in various sectors and financial institutions to provide targeted support.

He says the coronavirus is the challenge of our generation.

Bainimarama says if the campaign presses onwards to total victory, when the history books recount the difficulty of this period, they will tell of how Fijians led the way in beating this virus for good.

Bainimarama says we cannot risk falling back into life-risking bad habits.




We are having discussions with Australia and New Zealand about a potential travel bubble - Sayed-Khaiyum

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 14/05/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirms that he has been in discussions with respective ministries of Australia and New Zealand and are looking forward to working with them in order to be in this travel bubble.

However, Sayed-Khaiyum says there is a lot of work yet to do regarding this and they still need a bit of time to do so.

He says COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the tourism sector and there is a need to get the sector back on.

Sayed-Khaiyum says it is important to note how we can re-engineer the tourism market going forward in terms of what types of products we can offer, what types of specials we can offer and the prices of food and beverages.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes says there is no time given to this potential travel bubble because they are still working with New Zealand regarding this and it will take some time before an agreement is reached.

Feakes says there are still active COVID-19 cases in the three countries and the health of the Australians, Fijians and the New Zealanders will be first priority before a Trans-Tasman travel is looked into.




15 people arrested for breach of COVID-19 restrictions

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 14/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

15 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says 4 juveniles were arrested in Namaka, Nadi for playing basketball.

Qiliho says the Western Division recorded 6 arrests for curfew breaches.

He adds the Southern Division recorded 5 arrests for breach of curfew.




27 people arrested last night for breach of COVID-19 restrictions

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 13/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

19 people were arrested for breach of sporting activities in the last 24 hours.

Police say there were 27 arrests last night for the breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 9 people which included 6 juveniles were arrested in Nadawa for playing soccer while 2 men were arrested in Valelevu as they were playing touch rugby.

Qiliho says 8 people which included 6 juveniles were arrested in Nasese for playing basketball.

8 people were arrested in the Southern Division for breach of curfew.




All COVID-19 related breach arrests last night were from the Southern Division

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 12/05/2020

There were 25 COVID-19 related breach arrests last night and all were recorded in the Southern Division.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 20 were for breach of curfew and 5 for breach of sporting activities.

Qiliho says of the 20 breaches of curfew arrests, 8 were juveniles aged 16 and 17 years as they were found sitting outside Caqiri Hall in Nasinu during curfew hours by a team of officers on patrol.

A 17-year-old was arrested with three others as they were found playing touch rugby at the Pacific Harbour beach front yesterday afternoon.

Qiliho says the tempo of mobile and foot patrols is being increased in densely populated areas and they have made several arrests where people were found walking around or sitting in groups in public places during curfew hours.




Police interview Fiji’s first COVID-19 patient

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 12/05/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says investigators interviewed Fiji’s first COVID-19 patient yesterday after he was cleared by medical authorities after completing his second mandatory quarantine isolation.

Qiliho says investigations were earlier put on hold regarding claims that the flight attendant had given false information to officials about his health status as investigators awaited medical clearance.

He adds the patient was interviewed at the Border Police Office in Nadi and has been released as investigations continue.




29 arrested for breach of curfew last night

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 11/05/2020
Photo: Fiji Police Force

29 people were arrested for breach of curfew last night.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 21 arrests, the Eastern Division recorded 7 arrests while the Western Division recorded 1.

The Central and Northern Divisions recorded nil arrests.

Qiliho says they do anticipate cases of sporting breaches as we head into another week based on past trends.

He says they are reminding all Fijians that sporting activities are still prohibited.

The Police Commissioner adds frequent patrols will be conducted and anyone who has information of these breaches taking place is requested to call the National Police Command Centre on 9905 296 or their Divisional Command Centres on the following numbers:

Western Command Centre - 9905 457 Southern Command Centre - 9905 529 Northern Command Centre - 9905 722 Eastern Command Centre - 9905 563 Central Command Centre - 893 2875




Ministry of Agriculture urging farmers to use one acre of their land for rice farming

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 11/05/2020
Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy

Farmers are being urged to use one acre of their land to plant rice to uplift the rice sector in the economy.

Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy says to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production a total of 24,000 acres of land with 2 crops per year is needed and currently, only 7000 acres of land is under rice cultivation.

He says Fiji imported $42.6m worth of rice last year, and this is equivalent to around 40,000 metric tonnes of rice.

Dr Reddy adds under the Rice Planting Initiative for Sugarcane Farmers that was launched in Lautoka last week, each sugarcane farmer will be provided with seeds of improved high yielding varieties that could be grown under rain fed climatic conditions.

He says this will provide food and increase income for sugarcane farmers as it has been proven that rice can be rotated with sugarcane.

He adds they are trying to revitalise the rice farming in sugarcane farming communities as history depicts that this community had been doing this in the recent years.




Traditional Mother’s Day church services moved online

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 10/05/2020
Centenary Church Fiji

With houses of worship closed until further notice due to COVID-19 related restrictions, traditional Mother's Day church services were moved online today.

Mothers still took centre stage.

Christian denominations around the country live-streamed special Mother's Day services on their Facebook pages.

Apart from this, many families organised services at their homes and live-streamed it for other family members that could not make it.

As part of programs organised for Mother's Day, the Methodist Church in Fiji is holding a live panel discussion by women and experts on family life on the roles and responsibilities in the home at 2 o'clock this afternoon.




27 breach curfew with some too drunk to realise where they were

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 10/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 27 people were arrested last night for breaching the curfew and there were a few cases where people were heavily intoxicated and did not realise where they were.

The Southern and Eastern Divisions recorded 10 arrests each while the Western Division recorded five cases while the Northern Division recorded two cases.

The Police Commissioner says the majority of the arrests involved those who were found walking around during curfew hours from 10pm to 5am.

Qiliho is reiterating the importance of planning, because while you may be allowed to move around for social gatherings with 20 people or less, as soon as it's 10pm you have to stay where you are until the curfew is lifted at 5am.



54,141 FNPF members receive $35 million under COVID-19 Assistance

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 06/05/2020
FNPF staff serving members. [image: file]

54,141 members of Fiji National Provident Fund have accessed their funds for the COVID-19 relief withdrawal scheme, which is 70% of the total applications received by the Fund so far.

More than $35 million has been paid for the COVID-19 relief withdrawals.

FNPF says the $31 million paid by the Fund to date, is more than half of the total amount ($56.3m) accessed for early withdrawals (excluding housing) by members in 2019.

41,698 members have accessed their own funds, while 12,443 members were assisted by the Government, with a payout of $4.2 million.

Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi says the Fund is doing its best with the processing of applications.

Koroi says they understand that these are anxious times for members and they are doing their best to process COVID-19 withdrawal applications.

He also says the Fund has encountered some setbacks with payments processing, especially for those opting for M-PAiSA, BillPaid (Post Fiji) and the Government top-up, but this is due to the large volume of payments that are processed daily.

Koroi says these are challenges that they encounter daily but they continue to address it in their quest to ensure that members receive their funds.

The FNPF CEO has assured members that those who have applied for the COVID-19 withdrawals and meet the requirements, will receive their funds.

He reiterates that there are no cash flow issues as some were claiming, but the Fund is simply ensuring proper processes are followed for the withdrawal payout.

Koroi says these withdrawals are well within the Fund’s financial means and members can refer to FNPF’s annual reports that are available on their website because it contains all the facts pertaining to their funds.

406 members withdraw funds under TC Harold Assistance

A total of $515,000 has been paid to 406 FNPF members for the TC Harold withdrawal scheme, which is being processed simultaneously with the COVID-19 applications.

FNPF CEO, Jaoji Koroi says the Fund’s inspection teams are in Kadavu this week and have started visiting the villages and settlements that have been identified by the National Disaster Management Office.

Koroi says inspection for areas identified on Viti Levu, wrapped up last week and their teams will be in Kadavu until the end of next week.

He also says members who live outside of the areas identified as worst affected, can still access their funds for housing withdrawal if they are eligible.




Deaf community in Fiji now have access to accurate information relating to COVID-19 pandemic

By Priteshni Nand
Saturday 09/05/2020
Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj

The deaf community in Fiji now have access to news, critical and accurate information relating to the Coronavirus pandemic through the availability of sign language interpreters on the two national television stations daily.

The initiative is led by the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme under its Fiji Access to Justice project.

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission says as a key human rights priority, persons with disabilities, including the deaf community, should have access, on an equal basis with others, to information and communication, state services and emergency services available during a global pandemic.

It says as such, the Commission had written to the two national television stations, Fijian Broadcasting Corporation and Fiji Television, initiating the idea of making their news bulletins more inclusive by using sign language interpreters, who constitute the ‘voice’ of deaf persons and hearing impaired, more so, enabling their accessibility to crucial information.

Commission Director, Ashwin Raj says during these unprecedented times when the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and with social media platforms rife with misinformation and false information on the pandemic, special attention and care must be afforded to the needs of the vulnerable groups, in particular, women, children and persons with disabilities, to have access to information and public health services.

Raj says it is encouraging to see that the two television stations are now using accessible formats to enable the deaf community or the hearing impaired to have access to critical and accurate information on issues of public interest.

He says this will assist them to make an informed decision in ensuring safety and adherence to the laws in terms of knowing about curfew hours, accessing medical services and fever clinics at designated locations, accessing funds from the Fiji National Provident Fund and generally being able to fully participate in society at large.

This initiative is in line with Section 42 (1) of the Fijian Constitution which promotes the right of the persons with disabilities to have reasonable access to information and use of sign language. Article 9 and 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also aims at elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility to information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Levan Bouadze says in these critical times, it is crucial that all citizens have equal access to important and timely information that can save lives.

Bouadze says UNDP has an existing partnership with the Fiji Association of the Deaf, which facilitated a fast response to the request from the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission’s request to have a team of sign language interpreters available for the evening news and special government updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fiji Access to Justice Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP, supports access to justice, in particular for impoverished and vulnerable groups.

It does so by empowering people to access their legal rights and services, strengthening key justice institutions to deliver improved services, and strengthening the capacity of CSOs to deliver justice accompaniment services, with a special focus on supporting persons with disabilities and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.




117 people in quarantine facilities in Nadi

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Saturday 09/05/2020
Chief Medical Advisor Dr Jemesa Tudravu [Photo: Fijian Government]

A total of 117 people are currently being held at the four government quarantine facilities in Nadi.

These are Fijian nationals who came back from overseas.

This has been stated by Chief Medical Advisor Dr Jemesa Tudravu who says that none of these individuals have been showing symptoms of COVID-19.

He says as per protocol, these people will be tested on the 14th day of their stay and if it comes out negative, then they will be allowed to quarantine themselves at their homes for the next 14 days.

Dr Tudravu adds those that have been discharged from the quarantine facilities have been continuously followed up by their health team.

He says after they complete their 28 days of quarantine, the Ministry will give them their certificate of clearance.

Currently, Fiji has 4 active COVID-19 cases.

14 out of the 18 cases have recovered.




Cop and Corrections Officer allegedly breach curfew

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 09/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

An off duty Police Officer and Fiji Corrections Service Officer were among 32 people arrested in the last 24 hours for COVID-19 related breaches.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the off-duty Police Officer was arrested in Narere while the Fiji Corrections Service Officer was arrested along Princes Road.

The Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua, Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded 24 cases.

10 of the cases in the Southern Division were in relation to people playing touch rugby.

The Police Commissioner says three juveniles aged 14, 15 and 16-years-old were playing touch rugby with another 20-year-old in Tacirua.

Qiliho says six men were also arrested for playing touch rugby at the beach along Pacific Harbour.

Police say both the Central and Western Divisions recorded three reports of curfew breaches while the Northern Division recorded two reports.




Lautoka City Council offers spaces in the city for tradespeople facing difficulties to earn an income

By Iva Danford
Saturday 09/05/2020
Sashi Kiran - Founder FRIEND

The Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND says the Lautoka City Council has agreed to offer spaces free of charge around the city where tradespeople can operate from to earn an income during this difficult period.

FRIEND says the current focus for this program are people from Ba, Lautoka and Nadi impacted by the demise of the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Council CEO Mohammed Anees Khan confirmed to FRIEND that the Council is able to offer Natokowaqa Pygmies Court and Shirley Park (opposite ANZ bank where the Saturday flea market used to be) as spaces where tradespeople could operate to service repairs on a daily basis.

FRIEND says due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, thousands of people have lost employment or are on reduced hours making it difficult for them to make ends meet.

They say the areas allocated can be used for unemployed technicians and electricians to repair washing machines, fridges, blenders, irons, brush cutters to help tradespeople generate income as they may be out of jobs, and providing a cheaper alternative to repair appliances for the public.

FRIEND says a marquee will be set up by the Council at Natokowaqa courts, but technicians will have to provide their own tents and tables at Shirley Park.

They say power can be supplied at Natokowaqa and Shirley Park at cost sharing basis and operating hours will be 8am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.

FRIEND confirms that a timeframe for this initiative has been agreed for next three months.

They say conditions for use include that users clear the repaired or unrepaired appliances at the end of the day for these spaces.

FRIEND is requesting those interested to please register with your trade at https://forms.gle/yYqm5f1686HsfoFX8

They say all those registered will have to be certified, registered and agree to City Council Conditions and abide by Health Safety Rules.

FRIEND is also offering free online training for those unemployed with assistance from Traseable Farms.

Through offering free online training and creating spaces for tradespeople, FRIEND with the assistance of other partners is trying to assist with income generation initiatives for those in need.




Contracts of some workers of Nausori and Nasinu Town Councils not renewed

By Iva Danford
Friday 08/05/2020
Nasinu Town Councils

Contracts of some workers of the Nausori and Nasinu Town Councils have not been renewed.

The Special Administrator of Nasinu and Nausori Town Council Baskaran Nair says 12 workers in Nasinu Town Council whose contracts had expired were employed on a temporary basis.

Nair says as per the council's HR Policy, it cannot keep any staff employed temporarily for more than one year.

He says the 12 workers contracts expired on the 30th of April.

Nair says the council's recruitment policy is to advertise vacancies and any person can apply.

Meanwhile, Fijivillage has got confirmation that the contracts of 19 workers from the Nausori Town Council have expired and have not been renewed.

We have sent questions to the Nausori Town Council concerning this issue and are still waiting for their response.




HART clarifies that rent payments are on hold from March

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 08/05/2020
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Sanjeeva Perera

The Ministry of Housing and Community Development confirms that residents of the Housing Assistance and Relief Trust or HART who featured in the Fiji Times yesterday and today, pay $5 a week or $20 a month for their rent and not $42 as stated.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Sanjeeva Perera says the Ministry would also like to reiterate that rent payment for all HART residents have been put on hold from 20th March of this year and will continue to be so, amid the COVID 19 pandemic and effects of Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Perera says furthermore, HART Chief Executive Paserio Furivai and his team have been working closely with the Water Authority of Fiji and Energy Fiji Limited on having special bill payment arrangements for its residents according to the COVID 19 Budget response. He further says HART over the past weeks has distributed food rations donated by individuals and organisations adding whilst HART prioritizes families of single mothers with little children, families of those with special needs and senior citizens, they continue to work with community leaders, in identifying those who are in need and work towards providing the much needed assistance.

Perera adds HART has been working collaboratively with other organisations and individuals on providing assistance towards its residence and the response has been encouraging.

He says this has enabled them to reach out to residents who are most in need.

He confirms residents of HART will also be assisted by the Veilomani Food Bank initiative.




50% of 305 COVID-19 related employment complaints resolved - Bala

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 08/05/2020
Minister for Employment Parveen Bala [Photo: Fijian Government]

Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala says they have managed to resolve 50 percent of the 305 complaints they had received in relation to COVID-19.

Bala says the other 50% that they have now is on the issue of redundancy.

The Minister says this is something they have to deal with, and there is a process to that and they are asking the companies to follow that.

Bala had earlier highlighted that the issues were such as non-payment of statutory leave entitlements and other entitlements under the Employment Relations Act 2007.




Police officer among people arrested for playing sports which is breach of COVID-19 restrictions

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 08/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

A Police officer was arrested yesterday for playing volleyball with three others in Veisari.

12 people were arrested for playing touch rugby at Lagilagi Housing in Jittu Estate and at the Lady Narain roundabout in Tamavua.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says there were also 16 arrests for curfew breaches.

The Western Division recorded 5 while the Southern Division recorded 11 for curfew breaches.

Qiliho says they commend those who have been listening and adhering to the advisories and they hope that the weekend will not see a spike in the number of arrests of curfew breach as people move around with the intentions of gathering for social purposes.




Defer your studies if you are facing challenges with online learning – FNU

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 07/05/2020

FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor James Pounder says if students are facing challenges with online learning because of internet connectivity and no access to proper devices, their advice as a university is to defer studies for the time being and pick it up when face to face teaching resumes and learn everything you missed.

He says if students don’t have connectivity or a device, their advice is to contact their course coordinator.

Professor Pounder says there will be things like block or intensive teaching to enable students to catch up with anything they have missed.

He says they are also assisting students as far as internet connectivity is concerned.

Professor Pounder says in terms of costs they've negotiated arrangements with Vodafone and Digicel for students to get free access to the FNU website and Moodle as long as they have connectivity.

He says they are obviously aware that it's very difficult for students to be able to do assignments on smartphones and what students need is a proper device which is either a PC or a notebook or IPAD.

Professor Pounder says they are negotiating now with the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board about the book allowance which is normally given to the students to be used as a device allowance.

He says what they are looking to do is take control of that part of the TSLB grant so they can actually make sure that students get devices.

Professor Pounder says there should be no student in FNU in the future who should not have a suitable device.

He says the thing about the online mode is that in terms of the time that is taken up by teachers, it is actually more intensive.

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Professor Pounder says there are Moodle discussion groups and teachers are sometimes even working right till the evening answering questions and creating discussions that happen when online learning is done properly.

He adds they are still in a learning situation at the present time because many of the faculty were not accustomed to online learning.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor says online learning is not a cheap option.

Professor Pounder says they had discussions with students yesterday and they have not in any way requested for a reduction in fees.

Professor Pounder says they have very good relations with the student union.

He says anything they do in FNU is done with the consent of the President of the student union and his team.

He says online learning has been an experience for everyone at FNU and this should make them much better prepared for the future.




Govt to make announcements after 30 days of State of Natural Disaster

By Iva Danford
Thursday 07/05/2020
Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete. [image: Fijian Govt]

The government as a whole will be having discussions and the Prime Minister will be making announcements as to what will happen when the 30 days of State of Natural Disaster comes to an end next week.

This has been highlighted by Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete who says their role is to provide technical advice as to where we are in terms of COVID-19 and what they are doing to fight it.

Waqainabete says it is heartening to see the behavioural changes in place in terms of what needs to be done in breaking the chain of the spread of COVID-19.

Waqainabete says majority of the people are practicing social distancing, keeping away from the mass gatherings and many are fronting up to the fever clinics.

He says we need to continue with these good practices because the pandemic is still out there and the World Health Organisation has not called it off.

Waqainabete says some countries are having re-emergence of the virus and we need to be careful that we don't have that.

The Minister says what is really helping them now is the COVID-19 supplementary budget which ensures that they procure important equipment and consumables that are needed to fight the virus.

Waqainabete says they are still facing challenges which include breaches of the curfew and mass gatherings.




USP students facing issues with lack of laptops, smart devices and internet

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 07/05/2020
University of the South Pacific

The USP Students’ Association says they are receiving information from USP students who are now studying online about lack of information and communication tools like laptops and smart devices.

Student Association’s President, Joseph Sua says students are also having internet issues during peak hours of the day and difficulties in accessing materials on e-learning platform due to data traffic.

Sua says students have appreciated the work by USP faculties and course coordinators in being flexible with deadlines and extending them on case by case basis accordingly.

Sua says that they are keeping an active tab on their social media pages/groups and emails in noting down concerns of the students.

The University of the South Pacific had said yesterday says it is conducting a survey among their students to see whether they have sufficient resources to access online materials.

Professor Ahluwalia had stated that from the initial set of data they have received, about 89% of their students have some electronic equipment or gadget such as Laptop/PC, Tablet or Smart Phone.

We have sent further questions to the USP.

When questioned if the USP Students’ Association has reached out to its members in Fiji to check whether they are facing major financial constraints and whether the association will be able to help them through welfare funds, Sua says the University is also being consulted on possible ways to assist students so that they can jointly provide assistance.

He says they have contacted their Branch Presidents in Labasa, Laucala and Lautoka campuses who are working on their possible scenarios and planning for welfare projects.




Workplace survey to find impact of COVID-19

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 07/05/2020
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Parveen Bala

A nationwide workplace survey will start next Wednesday that is aimed at finding the impact of COVID-19 at workplaces.

While opening the Enumerators Training for the survey, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Parveen Bala says this survey is quite an exercise, implemented to achieve a maximum number of participation out of the 24,000 registered employers to confirm their count, distribution, characteristics, perspectives and experiences on the effect of COVID-19 in the workplaces and on their employees.

Bala told the enumerators that the information that they gather will assist them to create an accurate, up-to-date and locally accepted representation of the workplaces and the effects of COVID-19 on its employees.

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He adds this information is fed back to the government and its partners to inform policy and planning in their collective response to COVID-19.

The Minister further says survey data is a critical tool for workplaces and government through his ministry aims to provide this to them.

Bala says it will help workplaces and government understand the effects of COVID-19 on the labour markets and how it has affected their services.

He adds the exercise will also increase understanding of the ministry in respect of the issues faced by workplaces and workers alike.




No social gathering arrests in the last 24 hours

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 07/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

No reports of social gatherings were recorded in the last 24 hours, however arrests were made for breach of curfew regulation.

Twelve people were arrested last night for breach of curfew with the Western Division recording six cases.

The Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua, Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded four cases while the Northern and the Central Divisions recorded one case each.




More than 1,300 COVID-19 tests done in Fiji

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 06/05/2020
Minister for Health Ifereimi Waqainabete

More than 1,300 COVID-19 tests have been done in Fiji.

This was confirmed by the Minister for Health Ifereimi Waqainabete who says that Fiji’s COVID-19 positive rate is 1.4 percent.

Waqainabete says Fiji’s testing capacity has increased remarkably because the Fiji Centre for Disease Control is here and the freight flights through Fiji Airways is able to bring the re-agents needed for testing.

He says Fiji’s testing capability is much more than the World Health Organization’s criteria in terms of what we need to do to test the population.

Fiji has 4 active COVID-19 cases, where 14 out of the 18 cases have recovered.

Waqainabete says the active cases are all in stable condition.




Senior RFMF officers discuss military cooperation beyond the COVID-19 with other foreign military representatives

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 06/05/2020
Military Cooperation beyond COVID-19 [Photo: New Zealand High Commission Suva]

Senior officers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces met with foreign defence attache’s and other foreign military representatives to discuss military cooperation beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

In attendance were the defence attaché’s from Australia, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, UK, United States and representatives from Japan.

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The Dean of the Attachè Corps, Lieutenant Colonel Josh Wineera says that battle against COVID-19 continue but they also need to think about the security environment beyond that and how the defence partners in Fiji can assist the RFMF to build its future capabilities.

Wineera adds each of the nations represented at this forum bring a collective mass of engagement programmes such as individual training opportunities, collective training as well as supplying military equipment.

The one-day forum saw the RFMF senior officers present the priorities for military engagement and the foreign representatives outline the programmes and activities for each of their countries.

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USP conducting survey to see whether students have resources to study online

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 06/05/2020
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia [Photo: Twitter Page]

The University of the South Pacific says it is conducting a survey among their students to see whether they have sufficient resources to access the online materials.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia says at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and during the lockdown period, the USP converted almost 300 face-to-face courses, to online courses, whilst meeting the required quality standard of online learning and teaching delivery.

Professor Ahluwalia says from the initial set of data they have received, about 89% of their students have some electronic equipment or gadget such as Laptop/PC, Tablet, or Smart Phone.

He says they are still receiving feedback and this figure may change.

Professor Ahluwalia says they have formed a Learning and Teaching Continuity Team that is tasked with monitoring the quality of their online delivery.

He says USP has a long experience in flexible learning and teaching and since 1970, the USP distance education programme has expanded tremendously in both the number of courses it offers and student enrolments.

He adds that all their students have experience with online learning and teaching.

Meanwhile, the USP Students’ Association President, Joseph Sua says network traffic has been all time high in Fiji and the eLearning platform will be affected.

He says they are doing their best in every way to facilitate student requests/issues from all their branches to appropriate authorities at the University.




Southern Division continues to dominate COVID-19 related breaches

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 06/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Most of the arrests for breaches of COVID-19 related restrictions in the last 24 hours were in relation to people participating in sporting activities in the Southern Division.

32 arrests were made in the last 24 hours.

Police say the Southern Division recorded 29 reports which includes 17 for sporting activities and 12 cases of breach of curfew.

The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu, and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says nine juveniles were arrested in the last 24 hours.

He says a 15 and 16-year-old were found walking around in Delaivalelevu after curfew hours.

Qiliho adds two 17-year-olds were arrested with others as they were found playing basketball along Padam Lala Road.

Five youths were also arrested in Vatuwaqa for playing touch rugby.

The Western Division recorded two cases of curfew breaches while one report was recorded in the Eastern Division.




Sabha assists 167 families affected by COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 06/05/2020

Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji has assisted 167 families who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Tropical Cyclone Harold and will be assisting another 100 families in the coming weeks.

However Sabha General Secretary, Vijendra Prakash says the number of people seeking assistance is increasing as more jobs are affected.

He says they will be having a discussion with their national executive council members to be prepared to provide assistance.

Prakash says they are also requesting their branch officials to survey their own area.

He says they have already given food packs to 32 families in the Nabua lockdown area and 98 families in the Soasoa lockdown.

They have also assisted 37 families in Nausori and Tailevu who were affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

He also says that Delta Timber has provided over $17,000 worth of roofing iron and other material to the people of Vusuya who were affected by TC Harold.

Prakash says members of the Sanatan Dharm Rewa Sabha will be distributing 100 parcels to people who were affected by the recent flooding in Omkar Road, Narere as they have received assistance from former members in the United States.




USP will consider re-looking at their fee structure

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 05/05/2020
Drone footage of USP, Laucala Bay Campus. [image: PMC]

The University of the South Pacific says they will consider re-looking at their fee structure, however the current measures which includes online classes are temporary and they will resume face to face teaching as soon as government relaxes the social distancing requirements.

The USP has made this comment after Fijivillage asked whether the University will re-look at the fee structure as students are no longer provided with face to face lectures, and students are no longer using any USP facilities like labs, lecture rooms and library as they are studying from home.

We have raised that private students definitely have been affected and asked whether there will be some relief for them in regards to their fees.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor, Pal Ahluwalia says they are confident that given the excellent control over COVID-19 by all their member governments, they will return to normal classes in Semester 2.

He says they have also ensured that students can access materials as their computer labs and library are open and assisting their students with access.

Professor, Pal Ahluwalia adds that they are also flexible about the due date for tuition fees and have extended the deadline for Semester 1 and Trimester 1, 2020, up to the end of exams.

Meanwhile, the USP’s Students’ Association says it has been liaising with the University on fees and other costs that would need to be re-looked at from next semester should the current situation continue where students are now studying online.

President, Joseph Sua says some private students have also requested for fees refund due to hardships faced.

He says their students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and and the recent TC Harold.

Sua says they have received requests from USP students in Fiji Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati with regards to food rations and educational materials and this has been looked at.




FWRM deeply concerned with gender based violence during COVID-19 pandemic

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 05/05/2020
The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Nalini Singh. [image: file]

The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement says ten women tragically lost their lives to domestic violence in 2019 and the FWRM is deeply concerned with news reports of a young woman that was allegedly stabbed to death by her partner in Naitasiri.

Executive Director Nalini Singh has also reiterated the need to prioritise responses to gender based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the added stress emerging from the pandemic, FWRM realises that the vulnerabilities of women and girls has increased even further.

FWRM along with other women’s rights organisations and the Ministry of Women have warned of a likely increase in domestic violence in lockdown situations.

Singh says according to their research, it generally takes a woman more than 2.5 years to report domestic violence.

She says with COVID-19 restrictions, this enforced isolation could mean the worst case scenarios for victims or survivors and those at risk.

FWRM has also commended the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation for the formation of the Gender Based Violence Working Group and the COVID-19 Response Gender Working Group to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls.

Rape statistics are worrying

Singh says additionally, news reports of the alleged rape of a 2-year-old girl in Rakiraki is disheartening, particularly after continued analysis by FWRM notes, that the average age of the youngest victims or survivors of Sexual Violence and Rape Cases heard in the courts from 2016-2019, was under 5 years.

The movement’s analysis also found that all victims/survivors of the 101 rape cases decided by the High Court last year were female. The oldest victim/survivor was a 63-year-old woman whilst the youngest victim/survivor was 2 years and 11 months old child.

In all 101 cases of rape, all the accused were male, the youngest accused was 12 years old and the oldest at 83 years of age.

The average age of victims from 2016 to 2019 is 16 years old and 53 percent of victims were under 17 years of age.

Singh says this is a sad reflection of our society.

She says there is no excuse for such despicable acts of crime and we need to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and also address the deeply entrenched patriarchy in our communities which perpetuates violence against women and girls.

If you are, or know of anyone at risk of, or subjected to domestic violence please call the Domestic Violence Helpline Number on 1560 and the Child Helpline on 1325.




Fiji having discussions with Australia and NZ on the idea of opening up travel between the three countries

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 05/05/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Fiji is having discussions with Australia and New Zealand on the idea of opening up travel between the three countries based on new legal requirements.

This has been confirmed by the Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who says that they are in talks since Easter.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that they have had discussions and have written to ministers in Australia and New Zealand and they are awaiting a formal response.




We have this virus on the ropes now but keep following health directives – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 04/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Photo: Office of the Prime Minister]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says we have COVID-19 on the ropes at the moment, and the government is aiming to have 4 weeks without any new case in Fiji that will see us officially breaking the known chains of transmission.

While speaking from onboard the RFNS Kacau, Bainimarama says people should remain vigilant as there could still be hidden symptom-less cases.

Bainimarama says they are focusing on the 28 day period with no new cases.

Bainimarama left with Infrastructure Minister, Jone Usamate to visit the areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold in Lau and Kadavu today.

He will go to Ono-i-Lau, Vatoa, Moala, Matuku and Kadavu during the weeklong tour.




FSC now implementing two months leave without pay for their 130 staff where possible – Clark

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 04/05/2020

The Fiji Sugar Corporation says they are now implementing two months leave without pay for their 130 staff where possible instead of sending them on leave without pay for four months.

The FSC says it understands that due to the COVID-19 crisis, unemployment rates have increased substantially and any chance of their employees seeking temporary employment elsewhere has diminished remarkably.

CEO, Graham Clark says they are rotating individuals so that instead of four months unpaid leave, the impact is felt only for two months.

He says in a scenario where they have two drivers in a department, each can go on two months unpaid leave instead of one individual going for four months.

Clark adds that as part of the COVID-19 response plan, contracts for works previously outsourced have been cancelled such as grass cutting, mill mud/bagasse transportation as these tasks can be done by employees included in the leave without pay.

He says the crushing season is only six weeks away and they will be needing lorry drivers for cane carting and FSC employees with a valid license can be selected for the role.

Clark says first preference will be given to their permanent employees on leave without pay for work assigned in the crushing period.

The FSC CEO says the COVID-19 Response Plan is designed to be temporary where possible and should things normalise sooner globally, changes will be restored.

However, he says that they have to be mindful that if the COVID-19 crisis isn’t averted with WHO warning to be wary of the 2nd and 3rd wave of COVID-19 and if if the global economic situation doesn’t improve in the four months, then they may be compelled to extend the Response Plan further.

Clarks adds that seven contracts have not been renewed and six employees have officially retired post-COVID-19 Response Plan.




Victims of Domestic Violence are now locked in 24/7 with their perpetrators- Shamima Ali

By Iva Danford
Monday 04/05/2020
Coordinator of the Fiji Women Crisis Centre Shamima Ali [Photo: Fiji Women Crisis Centre]

Women who are victims of domestic violence are now locked in at home 24/7 with their perpetrators who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there have been a lot of cases of coercive control by violent partners.

This was highlighted by the Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Shamima Ali who says that 91 percent of the calls they are receiving now are reports of COVID-19 related violence.

In April alone, 498 out of the 669 calls were domestic violence related.

She says they are getting calls from the victims and even their neighbours. These are then referred to police.

Ali says they still believe more cases of domestic violence, rape and child abuse remain under-reported and they continue to work with stakeholders on this issue.

She says she would like to remind the women who are going through this issue that they are not alone.




Nineteen arrested for curfew breaches last night

By Shanil Singh
Monday 04/05/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Nineteen arrests were made last night for curfew breaches with the Northern Division recording the highest number with 12 arrests.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Western Division recorded five cases while there were two arrests in the Southern Division.

There were no arrests in the Eastern and Central Divisions.

Qiliho says it is commendable that there were no reports of social gatherings in the last 24 hours but hopes that the high number of arrests made in relation to sporting activities last week will not be repeated this week.

He says they reiterate the Prime Minister's reminder that everyone should act as if COVID- 19 is around.




4 juveniles and 2 adults arrested for playing touch-rugby in Vesida, Nasinu

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 03/05/2020

More people have been arrested for playing touch rugby as this is a breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 4 juveniles aged between 11-16 years and 2 adults aged 19 and 21 years were arrested in Vesida, Nasinu.

Qiliho says it is never an easy situation to see young children be taken into custody with their parents and guardians, however to avoid these situations, parents and guardians need to be fully alert and know the whereabouts of their children at all times.

All sporting activities are not allowed as a precautionary measure under the Public Health Act.

Please comply with these protective measures.




9 adults who were caught playing touch-rugby in Navua ordered to do community service

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 03/05/2020

10 people who were arrested for breaching COVID-19 restrictions as they were found to be playing touch rugby in Nakaulevu, Navua on Friday have pleaded guilty to their charges.

They were produced in the Navua Magistrates Court today.

All of them were charged with failure to comply with an order under the Public Health Act.

Temo Tuirabe, Pita Caras, Jiuta Korovu, Varanisese Vauoro, Laisiasa Ligani, Eparama Masu, Samuela Dokana, Ratu Manasa and Asaeli Mata have been sentenced to do 40 hours of community work under the supervision of the Probation Officer.

They are to report to the Social Welfare Office in Navua within the next 72 hours.

A juvenile who was also arrested has been released on a bail bond of $1000.

The case will be called on the 22nd of this month for the review of community work.




5 people arrested and make court appearance for breaching COVID-19 restrictions

By Shanil Singh
Sunday 03/05/2020
Sharon Begum, Atunaisa Ramatau and Annette Maharaj were among the 5 that appeared in court today.

Five people who were arrested for breaching COVID-19 related restrictions appeared before Suva Magistrate Joseph Daurewa yesterday.

All five have been charged with failure to comply with an order under the Public Health Act.

Sharon Begum and Annette Maharaj have been released on a bail bond of $500 each and have been ordered not to re-offend or change their residence.

Begum has been told to report to the Samabula Police Station every Saturday while Maharaj has been ordered to report to the Totogo Police Station every Saturday.

Begum’s case will be called on the 6th of July while Maharaj’s case will be called on the 19th of this month where they will take their plea.

Atunaisa Ramatau and Vetaia Lewenavanua who were arrested last Friday for loitering around during curfew hours, pleaded guilty to their charges and have been fined $500 each.

Ramatau and Lewenavanua have been given 2 months to pay their fines and are facing 30-days imprisonment if they fail to do so.

A 21-year old man who was also arrested for breaching curfew has been released on a bail bond of $500.

Timoci Batinuka has been ordered to report to the Raiwaqa Police Station every Saturday between 10am to 3pm .

The case will be called on the 2nd of June where he will take his plea.




All 35 COVID-19 tests last night have returned negative - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Sunday 03/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. [image: Fijian Govt]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that all 35 COVID-19 tests last night have returned negative.

Fiji has not had any new cases in the last 2 weeks and 2 days.

The government has 12 days left to it's Expected Day of Declaration.

Bainimarama had earlier told Fijivillage that is when the government can declare Fiji COVID-19 free from the community.   

He says after that planned declaration, the only threat will be those arriving back into the country but they are in quarantine so they don’t pose a big risk.

The Expected Day of Declaration is also the day that corresponds with the end of the COVID-19 State of Natural Disaster.

Fiji has 4 active COVID-19 cases.

The Prime Minister says 14 out of the 18 cases have recovered which is a 78% recovery rate.

Bainimarama stresses that the nationwide curfew remains from 10pm to 5am, social gatherings should be 20 people or less and people should continue to practise social distancing.

Please do not ignore the health directives and always act as if COVID- 19 is around because it is still around us.




4 juveniles and 2 adults arrested for playing touch-rugby in Vesida, Nasinu

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 03/05/2020

More people have been arrested for playing touch rugby as this is a breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 4 juveniles aged between 11-16 years and 2 adults aged 19 and 21 years were arrested in Vesida, Nasinu.

Qiliho says it is never an easy situation to see young children be taken into custody with their parents and guardians, however to avoid these situations, parents and guardians need to be fully alert and know the whereabouts of their children at all times.

All sporting activities are not allowed as a precautionary measure under the Public Health Act.

Please comply with these protective measures.




PM confirms Fiji now has only 4 active COVID-19 cases

By Vijay Narayan
Saturday 02/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

More good news today as Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that Fiji now has only 4 active COVID-19 cases.

Bainimarama says Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that another 2 patients have fully recovered today.

The Prime Minister says 14 out of the 18 cases have now recovered which is a 78% recovery rate.

The 4 active cases are the man from Nadera, the hairdresser from Suva, the child of the hairdresser and barber in Suva and the woman from Ba.

Both Nabua and Soasoa have also completed 28 days and the lockdowns have been lifted.

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Soasoa lockdown area in Labasa [image: Satish motormart]13785199965e97f826f5e88ac806f3 Nabua lockdown area in Suva. [image: File]

Bainimarama stresses that the nationwide curfew remains from 10pm to 5am, social gatherings should be 20 people or less and people should continue to practise social distancing.

Please do not ignore the health directives and always act as if COVID- 19 is around because it is still around us.




39 people who breached the COVID-19 restrictions front court

By Shanil Singh
Saturday 02/05/2020
A few of the 39 people that were playing rugby at the Nukuwatu foreshore in Lami.

21 juveniles and 18 adults who were arrested for breaching COVID-19 restrictions appeared before Suva Magistrate Jioji Boseiwaqa today.

All have been charged with failure to comply with orders under the Public Health Act.

They have been released on a bond of $200 each and have been told not to re-offend.

They were arrested for playing touch rugby at the Nukuwatu foreshore in Lami on Thursday.

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Magistrate Boseiwaqa has also ordered them not to recommit such offences.

The juveniles have been told to report to the Juveniles Court on the 9th of next month while the case of the adults will be called on the 27th of July.




Government has 13 days left to it's Expected Day of Declaration - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Saturday 02/05/2020
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the government has 13 days left to it's Expected Day of Declaration.

Bainimarama says that is when the government can declare Fiji COVID-19 free from the community.

He told Fijivillage that after that planned declaration, the only threat will be those arriving back into the country but they are in quarantine so they don’t pose a big risk.

The Expected Day of Declaration is also the day that corresponds with the end of the COVID-19 State of Natural Disaster.

Fiji now only has 4 active COVID-19 cases.

The Prime Minister says 14 out of the 18 cases have now recovered which is a 78% recovery rate.

Bainimarama stresses that the nationwide curfew remains from 10pm to 5am, social gatherings should be 20 people or less and people should continue to practise social distancing.

Please do not ignore the health directives and always act as if COVID- 19 is around because it is still around us.




59 arrested over the last 24 hours for alleged COVID-19 breaches including 10 people who were playing touch rugby

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 02/05/2020

59 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for alleged COVID-19 breaches.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says 42 of the 49 arrests were for breach of curfew 10 were sports related and 7 for failing to adhere to social distancing restrictions.

The Southern Division recorded 31 arrests, 21 for breach of curfew and 10 for playing touch rugby.

The West recorded 14 breach of curfew cases.

The Northern Division recorded three cases of curfew breach while the Eastern Division recorded two cases.

Central Division recorded nine reports in total, 2 for curfew breach and 7 for failing to adhere to social distancing restrictions.

Qiliho says seven people were arrested as they were found under the Stintson Parade Bridge allegedly breaching social distancing measures.

Qiliho adds the onus is on every individual to take responsibility of their actions and be mindful of maintaining physical distancing, and failure to comply will result in Police taking necessary action.




10 arrested for playing touch-rugby in Nakaulevu, Navua

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 02/05/2020

10 people were arrested yesterday for allegedly breaching COVID-19 restrictions as they were found to be playing touch rugby in Nakaulevu, Navua.

The 10 are aged between 18 to 25 years.

Police say they were arrested by a team of officers on mobile patrol.

All sporting activities are not allowed as a precautionary measure under the Public Health Act.

Please comply with these protective measures.




Fiji has had no new COVID-19 case for two weeks - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 01/05/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that Fiji has not had a new COVID-19 case for two weeks now however people should still act as if the virus is still out there because it is.

Speaking from his home, Bainimarama says we now only have 6 positive cases in the country.

He stresses that the nationwide 10pm to 5am curfew remains, gatherings should remain for 20 people or less and there should be social distancing.

Bainimarama says the TC Harold response continues and he may start visiting the affected areas from next week.

Bainimarama says the Ministry of Health is undertaking it’s door to door campaign to fight off Leptospirosis, Typhoid, Dengue and Diarrhoea.

He says Leptospirosis is caused when cuts or scrapes are exposed to water carrying the disease so be sure to avoid puddles or streams.

Fiji has already seen 7 deaths from Leptospirosis this year.

Bainimarama also says Fiji currently has 791 cases of Dengue in Fiji, mostly in the Northern and Central divisions.




39 arrested for playing touch-rugby in Lami

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 01/05/2020
The 39 that were arrested in Lami yesterday.

39 people were arrested in Lami yesterday afternoon for breaching COVID-19 restrictions as they were playing touch rugby at the Nukuwatu foreshore.

Police say there were 22 juveniles, the youngest being 14 years and 17 adults.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says parents and guardians are warned to monitor their children's whereabouts as Police will not hesitate to arrest anyone who is found failing to comply with health orders as adequate warnings have been issued.

A police team on mobile patrol saw a group of people playing touch rugby along Hedstrom Road in Samabula and managed to arrest a 20 year old who was found with the rugby ball while others ran away from the area.

Arrested-39-lami

All sporting activities are not allowed as a precautionary measure under the Public Health Act.

Please comply with these protective measures.

Another 2 juveniles were arrested in the Southern Division for breach of curfew.

The Western Division recorded 2 cases of breach of curfew while the Central Division recorded 1 case.




7 people arrested in Nabua yesterday for breaching COVID-19 restrictions

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 30/04/2020
Police operations in the Central Division. [image: Fiji Police]

7 people were arrested in Nabua yesterday for breaching COVID-19 restrictions which included playing touch rugby and working out in a gym.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says a team of officers on mobile patrol along Sukanaivalu Road arrested two men aged 18 and 19 years who were playing touch rugby

Qiliho says in a separate case, five people including a 16 year old juvenile were arrested by a team of officers on patrol as they were allegedly found working out in a gym.

The Police Commissioner says it has been clearly stated that gyms are to remain closed and touch rugby is prohibited because of the potential threats they have on individuals in our nation's ongoing campaign to control and contain the spread of COVID-19.

Qiliho adds that the 7 arrests recorded in Nabua were part of the 19 arrests made in the last 24 hours in the Southern Division.

The remaining 12 were for breach of curfew.

The Eastern Division 5 breach of curfew arrests, while the North and West recorded 1 case each.

Qiliho says it has and continues to be a busy period for policing operations in light of COVID-19, the unfavorable weather conditions and routine operations, but they will continue to step up on the monitoring of related breaches.




FRIEND working with landowners in Lautoka to get food security for people on Leave Without Pay or reduced hours

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/04/2020
[Photo: Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development]

Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development or FRIEND is now working with landowners in Lautoka to get food security for thousands of people who are on Leave Without Pay or reduced hours.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sashi Kiran says they are working with the Turaga Ni Koro, Advisory Councillors, youths and other people to utilize available land to plant root crops and vegetables to assist those severely affected after losing their jobs or getting reduced pay.

Kiran says assessments are coming through and about 50,000 people in the country are estimated to be severely affected.

She says they are also looking at people preserving and eating cassava and kumala leaves that used to be eaten in the past, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue for some time.

She says their focus is on assisting people in Lautoka, Nadi and Ba.

Kiran says NZAID, ANZ and other people including former citizens have come forward to assist FRIEND. The organisation has used the donations to assist more than 3,000 people however FRIEND needs more support to continue to assist the affected families.

She has also assured people who make cash donations to their bank account that all the money is given to people being assisted, and none of these funds go towards admin fees. If you are interested in providing a helping hand, you can contact FRIEND on 8983183 or email them on friend@connect.com.fj




36,499 FNPF members receive a total of $25 million through the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 29/04/2020
FNPF members lineup outside FNPF main building, Suva, to apply for the COVID-19 assistance earlier this month. [image: file]

36,499 people who are FNPF members have received a total of $25 million after they had applied for assistance under the FNPF COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

FNPF CEO, Jaoji Koroi says $3.0 million was paid by Government and $22 million has been paid by the Fund.

Koroi says that 65,800 applications have been received from members, which is equivalent to 93% of the total withdrawals made in the last financial year.

He says they have paid out some 56% of applications received and they have a target to clear another 25,000 this week, inclusive of approximately 8,600 applications that were received before 16th April.

Koroi says 3,700 COVID-19 withdrawal assistance applications are on queried status with the Fund.

He says while there is progressive improvement in its processing, the Fund is also faced with the arduous task of rectifying these 3,700 applications.

Koroi says applications are queried due to the form not fully completed by the member, employer’s stamp or signature or both are missing, required documents not submitted by the member or employer or both and wrong form filled by the member.

He says they have a dedicated team looking into all queried applications as it is one of the main reasons as to why some applications are delayed further.

Koroi says members whose applications are queried are being contacted by their team and for those that continue to be unreachable, the Fund will publish their names in the media at the end of this week so they can have them come forward to rectify the query.

He says they continue to seek members’ patience and understanding of the delays and also reassure members that they will pay all members as soon as practical.

Koroi says it is definitely not because of cash flow but they want to ensure that proper procedures are maintained on withdrawals.

He says the Fund has also been actively working with all banks for verification of member’s bank accounts, before any approval or payment is done and this is due to the relaxation of the bank statement requirement.




Fiji Trades Union Congress working with employers to see how they can save people from losing their jobs

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 29/04/2020
General Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress Felix Anthony

The General Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress Felix Anthony says they are trying to work with the employers to see how they can save people from losing their jobs.

Anthony says they are currently carrying out a survey to find out how many workers have been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked if the unions will be assisting their members who have lost jobs, Anthony says unions are not a cash cow and people don’t pay taxes to them but minimal subscriptions which are for the administration of the unions and some other benefits for the members.

Anthony says there are also some employers who are taking advantage of the situation and are not fulfilling their social responsibilities to the workers.

Anthony adds that they totally disagree that workers should be made to withdraw from their retirement fund during a time of disaster or a problem.




Tenants and landlords are in a better position to negotiate on rent - Ali

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 29/04/2020
President of Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry Doctor Nur Bano Ali

The President of Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry Doctor Nur Bano Ali says they will leave all rental negotiations to the tenants and landlords as they are in a better position to understand the situation.

This is after they received reports from their members on the difficulties they are facing with meeting their costs including rental payments.

Doctor Ali says they are also requesting all businesses to support each other as best they can during these trying times as most if not all businesses have been affected due to COVID-19.

She says the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry is especially concerned about the Small and Medium Enterprises and will continue to seek relief for them in various forms of funding that can be made available.

Doctor Ali says funding options for Small and Medium Enterprise are available through RBF which can be accessed via the financing institutions.




Many children and relatives of sugarcane farmers who were working in hotels and resorts are now totally relying on cane income

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 29/04/2020
Sugarcane farm workers on a farm in Ba. [image: devpolicy.org]

The Sugarcane Growers Council says many children and relatives of sugarcane farmers who were working in hotels and resorts are now totally relying on cane income.

Council’s Acting Chief Executive, Sunil Chaudhry says they have written to the Fiji Sugar Corporation requesting them to bring forward the fourth cane payment which is due at the end of May as this may bring some relief for everyone.

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The Sugarcane Growers Council Acting Chief Executive, Sunil Chaudhry.

He says they are working closely with growers and are encouraging their children who are out of employment to come back to the farm.

Chaudhry says with the adversity faced in the tourism industry, there is hope that the sugar industry will help those to survive who come from the sugarcane belt areas and those that have lost jobs.

He says this is the opportune time for those that have lost jobs to take advantage of the New Farmers Assistance Scheme which is designed to entice new and young farmers to venture into sugarcane farming.

Under this assistance, Ministry of Sugar Industry meets the cost of lease acquisition (that is the amount stated in the offer letter from TLTB and Ministry of Lands) and also assists in establishing farms by providing free fertilizer and weedicides for a maximum of 5 acres of land in the first year only.

The Ministry also provides a grant for land preparation and planting of sugarcane for a maximum of 5 acres through an ongoing program called Sugarcane Development and Farmers Assistance grant which is commonly known as Cane Planting Grant or CPG.

There are approximately 11,600 active growers that supplied cane to mills in 2019.

1.8 million tonnes of cane was crushed last year and approximately 169,000 tonnes of sugar was produced.




FNPF received around 300 applications for TC Harold assistance, paying out $141,000 to 112 members

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 29/04/2020
FNPF staff assisting members at their main branch. [image: FNPF]

The Fiji National Provident Fund has received around 300 applications for the Tropical Cyclone Harold withdrawal scheme and has paid out a total of $141,000 to 112 members.

FNPF Chief Executive Officer Jaoji Koroi says the TC Harold Scheme is targeting only those members whose homes were damaged and also reside in areas that were declared a natural disaster area by the National Disaster Management Office.

Koroi says the Fund is working closely with the NDMO and District/Provincial Offices to verify which members were affected by the cyclone and their inspectors will then visit the affected areas to issue the FNPF Natural Disaster Forms, which is also collected on-site. He says members who have missed out on the inspections have been requested to provide their details to their nearest District Office.

Koroi says the Fund is also aware of members that have taken to the media to publicise their frustration on the Fund, its processes and requirements.

He says they understand that members are in a difficult position and FNPF has even gone to the extent of relaxing some of the requirements, however, they will not compromise their processes.

Koroi says they are governed by their legislation and policies that protects the long term interest of the member.

He says FNPF is here for the member’s retirement and they request that members be mindful of any withdrawal as it leads to the depletion of their retirement funds.




10 people arrested last night for breaching curfew hours

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/04/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Ten people were arrested last night for breaching curfew hours.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says five people were arrested in the Western Division including a 16-year-old juvenile and a 43-year-old man who were both found intoxicated and were returning from a social gathering in Namaka.

Qiliho says a 35-year-old Lami man has been arrested after he was found walking back from Lautoka to Nawaka following a grog session.

The Southern Division recorded one case while East recorded four cases.




Financial lifeline loan package remains in place to assist severely impacted small and medium-sized businesses in Fiji - RBF

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 29/04/2020
The Reserve Bank of Fiji. [image: File]

The Reserve Bank of Fiji confirms that the financial lifeline loan package remains in place to assist severely impacted small and medium-sized businesses in Fiji.

Fijivillage has received confirmation that under the three facilities combined, more than $300 million has been lent out to businesses to date.

Following the COVID-19 Response National Budget, the RBF says it is continuing to support local businesses by granting access to emergency funding to help keep them and the Fijians they employ, operating through this difficult period.

The Reserve Bank offers three facilities targeted to Small and Medium Enterprises through the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme; Import Substitution and Export Finance Facility; and Disaster, Rehabilitation and Containment Facility.

An SME is defined as either an enterprise with a turnover between $30,000 to $500,000 or an enterprise that employs fewer than 50 workers.

RBF says people in these categories are eligible for the relief.

Those looking to start a new SME can also take advantage of these facilities by applying through relevant lending institutions for assistance.

Small and Medium Enterprises may access these funds through an application to a commercial bank, licensed credit institution or the Fiji Development Bank.

Funding will be subject to each individual bank’s normal credit criteria.

The RBF says the funding will range from $10,000 up to $500,000, depending on the SME’s requirements.

The Reserve Bank says loans above $500,000 can be considered under special circumstances.

The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme will cover 50 per cent of the principal amount outstanding on defaulted SME loans, up to a maximum of $50,000 per individual business.

Latest financial statements for your business from a certified accountant; Tax compliance certificate/letter; Business registration certificate; Business plan and cashflow projections; and an application to a commercial bank, licensed credit institution, or FDB stating the level of funding sought and the rationale supporting your request are needed.

The Fiji Chamber of Commerce has also been asked by the RBF to assist potential clients with their cashflow statements.




We are doing a survey with the ILO to determine the number of employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic - Bala

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Minister for Employment Parveen Bala

Minister for Employment Parveen Bala says they are doing a survey with the International Labour Organisation to determine the number of employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked by Legend FM News about what sort of assistance will be provided to these affected workers, Bala says cabinet will make the final decision.

Bala says they have received information that all the companies that have sent their workers home, will take back their employees when the situation improves.

He says his ministry is working with all stakeholders to keep as many Fijians as possible in the workplace.

The Minister adds they are working with employers for ways and means of lessening the impact on employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Bala is warning all employers that they should not take advantage of the COVID-19 situation as they have received 305 complaints from employees in regards to shift work and reduced hours of work.

He says some of the complaints they are receiving now is also in regards to reduced hourly rates.

The Minister is urging workers to talk to the Ministry staff if they have any concerns.

Bala adds that they are aware of and are sympathetic to the downturn in business but it is important that employment laws and regulations in place are followed and workers are not denied their rights.

He adds that they have managed to resolve at least 50% of the complaints by some workers. While celebrating World OHS Day today, the Minister adds that his ministry has been conducting COVID-19 workplace awareness to both employers and workers since March 9th, before Fiji's first case was announced on March 19th.

He says that they have covered over 1,536 employers with 9,989 workers in both essential and non essential industries.

Bala adds that his ministry will be introducing a recognition award to those workplaces that show compliance and commitment towards COVID-19 prevention at their workplace.

The theme for World OHS Day is "Stop the Pandemic: Safety and Health at work can save lives".




People not taking social distancing seriously in supermarkets and in long lines outside banks

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 28/04/2020
People lined up outside a bank in Suva and being relaxed about social distancing.

It has been noticed that people have been relaxed about social distancing in supermarkets and in long lines outside the supermarkets and banks.

Fijivillage have noticed this in the past few weeks as there is a general feeling of not knowing the threat or ignoring the fact the COVID-19 still exits in Fiji and other countries.

We have also noticed that while some retailers are monitoring in the inside, people lining outside are still standing very close to each other.


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People have frequently been told to practice social distancing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but no matter how often we have been given such advice, it is noticeable that people are not following it.

Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and avoiding crowded public places.

COVID-19 spreads from person to person and reducing the ways people come in close contact with each other is essential.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says it is important for people to know that they still have to maintain physical distancing if they are at a picnic or even at home grogging with others.

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Qiliho says they are tasked with enforcing this but there should also be personal responsibility by people.

He says they will use their community policing to go out and spread the message about COVID-19.

The Police Commissioner has stressed that we are not out of the woods yet.





137 ration packs distributed to families in the quarantined areas in Nabua and Soasoa Settlement in Labasa through the Veilomani Food Bank initiative

By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission CEO, Joel Abraham distributing ration packs. [image: FCCC]

137 ration packs have been distributed so far to families in the quarantined areas from Nabua Muslim Settlement in Suva and Soasoa Settlement in Labasa through the Veilomani Food Bank initiative to address food poverty.

Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission CEO, Joel Abraham says these packs contain food items such as rice, flour, cooking oil, potatoes, onions, dhal, salt and sugar and other items such as kerosene and bathing soap.

Abraham says they will be following up on these families on a fortnightly basis to check how these families are doing and a second wave of food rations will be delivered.

He also says this Saturday they will be going out to Ba and Dreketi to ensure that these communities are also assisted.

The Veilomani Food Bank initiative has been established to assist Fijian families affected by COVID-19 quarantine measures, and are currently unable to work and put food on the table.

Meanwhile Digicel Fiji today donated $5,000 to the Veilomani Food Bank initiative.




Fiji Corrections Service provides financial assistance to the spouses of 10 Corrections staff who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Services Commander Francis Kean with Corrections staff and spouses of the ten Corrections personnel. [image: Fiji Corrections Services]

The Fiji Corrections Service has provided financial assistance to the spouses of ten Corrections personnel who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

These families received $300 each to help them cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven families are from the Central and Southern Division, two families are from the Western Division while one is from the Northern Division.

26-year-old, Ulamila Ravidiki, a pastry chef at the Novotel Hotel in Lami says the assistance was most unexpected but is most appreciated.

The mother of two says that she had been laid off from work for the past month without any pay and with no guarantee when they would start again.

Ravidiki says that she thanks the Fiji Corrections Service for remembering them as it has been a tough few weeks mostly because they do not know how long this crisis would go for.

She adds the donation will go towards the family groceries and teaching aid for the children.

Meanwhile, Tokasa Viniana who works for Peninsula Hotel in Suva says she was quite humbled by the kind gesture but adds that family was always very important to the Fiji Corrections Services.

The mother of five says this money will be put aside for when school starts because she is not working and they have to plan.

Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Services, Commander Francis Kean said that this small gesture of financial support to their staff who are affected by the COVID 19 pandemic is a reflection of their values in the Corrections Services; Family and Empathy.

He adds that they trust that this small support will be put to good use.




Worrying concerns that savings, government and FNPF assistance expected to run out by next month

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/04/2020

There are worrying concerns that a vast majority of people who were sent on Leave Without Pay, sent home or have been put on reduced hours from March until the effects of COVID-19 subside, may be running out of savings and even the government and FNPF assistance provided is expected to run out by next month.

CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Fantasha Lockington says these people, including hotel and tourism workers and others previously working in the retail and services sector, face a bleak future until some positive signs emerge for the businesses.

Chief-Executive-Officer-of-Association-Fantasha-Lockington  CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Fantasha Lockington

Those positive signs will not emerge until the threat of the global pandemic is over.

Lockington says they have been receiving many reports that many of these affected workers are now planting vegetables and root crops to survive.

While this provides some relief, there are growing concerns regarding how people will continue to afford to pay rent, put food on the table for their families and pay for their utility bills.

Close to 40,000 people working in the hotel and tourism sector in the country continue to remain seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockington says the assessment of the industry is that more than 150,000 people are directly or indirectly affected by the drastic drop in visitor arrivals as a result of the global pandemic. This includes all the businesses connected with the provision of goods and services when we have tourists in the country.

Lockington says it is devastating for the entire industry for now - with no light seen at the end of the tunnel.




Nurse helps disadvantaged families who have medical needs and calls for much needed assistance for her cause

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Lanieta Lelea . [image: Facebook]

A nurse who returned from a peacekeeping mission in Iraq last month is now going to homes of the disadvantaged families who have medical needs and cannot afford to go to the hospital for the dressing of their wounds.

Lanieta Lelea, who is a nurse with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces says she is helping these people, and is also doing high blood pressure and diabetes checks in the Davuilevu area.

She is calling for people to assist her in this cause by providing medical items as she is also getting requests to treat people from Lovoni Road, Cunningham and Vatuwaqa.

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Lelea who has been a nurse for 24 years, says she wants to help the senior citizens but after she posted about her initiative on Facebook, she has received messages from even young people who are not able to make it to hospital.

In an effort to get the equipment to help her carry out her work she has reached out to people on Facebook via the Barter for Better Fiji page.

Lelea says she needs things such as trays, forceps, medical kits and white bed sheets that she can use to change the dressings of patients.

She is calling on people to provide her assistance so she is able to help others.


To provide assistance for medical supplies, you can contact Lelea on 2079420 or connect with on her Facebook page, La Nabainivalu.




Police will push forward to jetties and wharves to ensure compliance of restriction measures - Qiliho

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/04/2020

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says more police officers will be pushed forward to our jetties and wharves to ensure compliance of restriction measures to avoid overcrowding which was witnessed last night in Suva.

People have raised concern on the lack of physical distancing being practised by people.

Qiliho says Police were present however a sudden heavy downpour that occurred while boarding was taking place led to the sudden rush for shelter inside the boat that was leaving for Lau.

The Commissioner is also calling on shipping operators to assist ongoing efforts by implementing measures that will ensure their passengers or those utilizing their services are able to maintain physical distancing.

Qiliho says they will continue to work with officials from the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji and Fiji Ports to ensure all measures are adhered to and continue to call on every individual to also take responsibility for their own wellbeing.




No arrests for social gathering breaches last night while 4 people arrested for breaching curfew hours - Qiliho

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho. [image: file]

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has confirmed that there were no arrests for social gathering breaches last night while four people were arrested for breaching curfew hours.

Qiliho says two cases were recorded in the South while the North and West recorded one case each.

The Commissioner says while the decrease in the number of social gathering breaches was anticipated due to the relaxation of restrictions, Fijians cannot be complacent and resort back to potential life threatening habits.

Qiliho says physical distancing and avoiding the sharing of bilos and glasses during any social gathering is still being emphasized, and again, if you don’t need to leave your home, please do the right thing, and stay home.




Ministry of Health stresses that all sporting events in the country remain temporarily suspended

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 28/04/2020

The Ministry of Health says although restrictions have been lifted to allow gatherings of 20 people or fewer, they wish to remind the public that all sporting events in the country remain temporarily suspended.

The Ministry says this includes events organized by sporting bodies as well as those organized at community levels by community members.

The Health Ministry further says this is in line with the measures announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to contain the spread and local transmission of the virus.

They add the risk of person to person transmission of COVID- 19 is high when there is a large gathering of people and at places such as sporting facilities, stadiums or even village playgrounds where maintaining a safe physical distance can be a challenge.

The Ministry adds while sporting events are not permitted at this stage, Fijians however are free to undertake their own exercises.

They says these could be simple exercises such as jogging or walking adding regular exercises and healthy diet is key to a stronger immune system.

Fiji currently has 7 active cases while 11 patients have recovered.

The Health Ministry says Fijians should not be complacent and should continue to take heed of the COVID-19 measures adding that the Government remains on the highest alert level and will advise the public as soon as possible if more cases are found




Only 7 active cases of COVID-19 with zero new cases is the best birthday gift - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama cuts his birthday cake at the NDMO office today.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has tweeted that he has already received the best birthday gift this morning after the confirmation that Fiji now has only 7 active cases of COVID-19 and there have been zero new cases.

Bainimarama who turns 66 years old today, says 11 of the 18 patients have now recovered, and all 7 patients remain in stable condition.

COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at CWM

He also says we now have 61% recovery rate.

According to the brief provided by the Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete to the Prime Minister this morning, the 54-year-old Soasoa man from Labasa and his wife have now tested negative twice.

april-07-sm Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete.

Bainimarama says there is more good news as the 107 tests done in the last two days have all returned negative.

Further relaxation of the health directives today as gatherings of 20 or fewer people allowed

There is a further relaxation of the health directives as gatherings of 20 or fewer people will be allowed from today.

However Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that even one new confirmed case can result in going back to the earlier restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho also says it is important for people to know that they still have to maintain physical distancing if they are at a picnic or even at home grogging with others from today.

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Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho 

He says people can now drink grog with their neighbours or other people but it is important to maintain physical distancing, not to share bilos and cigarettes.

Qiliho says they are tasked with enforcing this but there should also be personal responsibility by people.

The Police Commissioner says it is still important for people to understand that if they have nothing to do they should stay home.

When asked if Police would arrest or caution those not practising physical distancing especially with social gatherings of 20 people or fewer allowed from today, Qiliho says all of these things will come into play and they have to do that because they are tasked with enforcing it.

Qiliho says he would also like to thank the majority of Fijians who have been following the restrictions. 




Punjas Group of Companies faced issues with its rice products during the lockdown period

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 27/04/2020
A range of Punjas rice products. [image: Punjas.com]

Punjas Group of Companies says it faced some issues with its rice products during the Lautoka and Suva lockdown period however it has been sorted and stocks are being replenished in supermarkets.

Procurement Manager, Avnit Kumar says their shipment from Vietnam and Thailand had to be diverted to New Caledonia during the lockdown period.

Kumar says this is why some of their rice products like Long Grain, Jasmine and Calrose Rice got affected on the shelves.

He says the issue has been rectified and they now have a good amount of stock of these items.




Close to 40,000 people working in the hotel and tourism sector on leave without pay and reduced hours

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 27/04/2020

Close to 40,000 people working in the hotel and tourism sector in the country continue to remain seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of workers have been sent on Leave Without Pay while a small number of people are on reduced hours and on rotational work.

Chief-Executive-Officer-of-Association-Fantasha-Lockington


Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association CEO, Fantasha Lockington says the assessment of the industry is that more than 150,000 people are directly or indirectly affected by the drastic drop in visitor arrivals as a result of the global pandemic. This includes all the businesses connected with the provision of goods and services when we have tourists in the country.

Lockington says it is devastating for the entire industry for now - with no light seen at the end of the tunnel.


Lockington says this time of the year would have been the beginning of the high season however Fiji does not hold any bookings rather than returning residents from April to June this year.

She says the industry does not know and no one can predict at this stage on when the borders will open, and when can tourists safely come into the country.

Lockington says health protective measures will also need to be in place when the borders do open up.


She says from April to June last year, we had 235,634 visitors.

Between January to June last year, we had 470,000 visitors and they spent $1.2 billion. For the whole of last year, Fiji had 894,000 visitors and $2.1 billion came in through tourism earnings.

Lockington says the March arrival figures are down 53 percent, from 59,000 visitors in March last year to 27,972 visitors this year.

empty-hotels   





37 arrested over the last 24 hours for allegedly breaching COVID-19 restrictions

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 27/04/2020
[Photo:Fiji Police Force]

37 people were arrested over the last 24 hours for alleged cases of COVID-19 restriction breaches.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the Eastern Division recorded 19 cases, 10 for social gathering 9 for breach of curfew.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 11 cases, 6 for breach of curfew and 5 for social gathering.

He adds the Western Division recorded 7 cases, 6 for social gathering and 1 for breach of curfew.

Both the North and Central Divisions recorded nil arrests in the last 24 hours.

Qiliho says as the restrictions on social gatherings are being relaxed to 20 people or fewer, everyone needs to still take responsibility and ensure that they do not risk their own lives, the lives of their loved ones and all other Fijians.

He adds the message remains the same, if you don’t need to leave your home, then please do the responsible thing and stay home.

The Police Commissioner says the relaxation of the social gathering restrictions should not be used as an excuse to hold unnecessary yaqona and drinking parties as this can also lead to other probe problems including assault.

He adds physical distancing measures should still be practiced at all times.




Further relaxation of the health directives today as gatherings of 20 or fewer people allowed

By Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga
Monday 27/04/2020
Families gathered for a day out at My Suva Park, Suva before the health directives came in to place: [image: file]

There is a further relaxation of the health directives as gatherings of 20 or fewer people will be allowed from today.

However Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that even one new confirmed case can result in going back to the earlier restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho also says it is important for people to know that they still have to maintain physical distancing if they are at a picnic or even at home grogging with others from today.

Qiliho-sm

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho 

He says people can now drink grog with their neighbours or other people but it is important to maintain physical distancing, not to share bilos and cigarettes.

Qiliho says they are tasked with enforcing this but there should also be personal responsibility by people.

The Police Commissioner says it is still important for people to understand that if they have nothing to do they should stay home.

When asked if Police would arrest or caution those not practising physical distancing especially with social gatherings of 20 people or fewer allowed from today, Qiliho says all of these things will come into play and they have to do that because they are tasked with enforcing it.

Qiliho says he would also like to thank the majority of Fijians who have been following the restrictions. 




No comments yet from Fiji Sun, MIDA and Grace Road Church on claims made in paid advertisement

By Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga
Sunday 26/04/2020
The paid advertisement from The Grace Roads Church that appeared in The Fiji Sun.

There are still no comments from Fiji Sun, MIDA and Grace Road Church on claims made by Grace Road Church in a paid advertisement in the Fiji Sun claiming the reason for the COVID-19 outbreak is the unjust persecution, imprisonment and slandering of its leader Reverend Okjoo Shin as a cult.

We have asked MIDA if this conforms to the Code of Ethics for Advertising in the Media Act.

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Grace Road Church made this claim in the paid advertisement titled "The Judge of God - Judgement Has Now Begun".

Under the sub-heading - "COVID-19: What is the reason?" Grace Road Church said, "We believe the reason for COVID-19 outbreak is because of Spirit of Truth was slandered as a cult, persecuted and imprisoned".

The leader of Grace Road Church Reverend Shin is mentioned in the advertisement as "The Spirit of Truth Reverend Okjoo Shin".

The Health Ministry and WHO have stated that COVID-19 was discovered in late December 2019 after an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases was noted in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China.

On December 31st last year, China alerted the WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

The virus was unknown.

Several of those infected worked at the city's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which was shut down on January 1.

As health experts worked to identify the virus amid growing alarm, the number of infections exceeded 40.

On January 11th, China announced its first death from the virus, a 61-year-old man who had purchased goods from the seafood market.

Treatment did not improve his symptoms after he was admitted to hospital and he died of heart failure on the evening of January 9.

Grace Road Church says they have violated neither the law of God nor this world's law.

The son of the founder of the Grace Road Church Daniel Sungdo has refuted the charges of Assault, Incarceration, Child Abuse, and Fraud which his mother Reverend Okjoo Shin and the Church have been accused of by people they are calling traitors.

Sungdo says their church has violated neither the law of God nor this world's law.

The founder, Reverend Shin is serving a sentence of six years in prison for detaining her followers in Fiji and subjecting them to violence and barbaric rituals.

She has been serving for more than 1 year and 8 months.

The Suwon District Court, in South Korea, jailed her for keeping some 400 followers in captivity in Fiji, with their passports reportedly taken away by senior church leaders.

The court also said the followers spend their days performing forced labour and attending evening sermons.

In a more than 17 minutes video on its social media page, Sungdo addressed the issue directly saying “But to the self-proclaimed Christians, pastors, missionaries and the General Assembly who accused our Reverend and Grace Road Church of being a cult, to the people who were among us who discovered the truth and forsook the truth through their false testimonies, and the investigator (the son of a self-proclaimed missionary) who allied with the traitors with his devious plots, and to the press who turned a blind eye to the truth and branded our Reverend and our Church with intentionally maligned and devious editing: You have sued Grace Road Church, the group of true Christians who see, hear, believe and act by the Bible”

Grace Road Church has also been long accused of severe public beatings known as “ground threshing”.

Sungdo says what is so wrong about them carrying out threshing on the floor as written in the bible by understanding the word of truth.

He says they made a resolution to themselves and they slapped themselves adding how is this assault.

Sungdo says they are confident to confess and testify that all churches must carry out the biblical threshing floor and show an example that people are able to live by the law of God without requiring the world's law.

The Grace Road Church has also started a petition for a retrial of their leader's case in South Korea.

In a statement, the Church said "Grace Road Church's Reverend Okjoo Shin was sued by plaintiffs composed of people who claim to be victims on grounds of "bodily harm, special assault, assault, aggravated confinement, special confinement, fraud, violation of commercial law, violation of child welfare laws (neglect, abuse) and abetment of assault, sentenced to 6 years in 1st trial, 7 years in 2nd trial, and our appeal was dismissed at the Supreme Court"

Reverend Shin has been held in a detention centre from 24th July 2018 until now.




83 people to appear in special court sittings today after being arrested for COVID-19 breaches in the last 24 hours

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 26/04/2020
[Photo:Fiji Police Force]

83 people will appear in special court sittings around the country today after being arrested and charged for curfew and social gathering breaches in the last 24 hours.

Police say of the 83 arrests, 61 were for social gathering breaches.

The Western Division recorded 25 reports with 11 for social gathering breaches.

21 cases were recorded in the Southern Division.

The Eastern Division 18 cases recorded with 13 of those arrests for social gathering breaches.

Nine cases were recorded in the Northern Division while Central Division recorded 10 cases for social gatherings.

The Central and Northern Divisions both recorded nil reports of breach of curfew.

Special court sittings will be called in Lautoka, Nadi, Sigatoka, Tavua, Rakiraki, Nasinu and Suva this morning.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says physical distancing of two metres should be maintained at all times and people should not share cigarettes, takis or bilos during grog sessions.




7 people appear in special sitting in court today for breaching curfew and social gathering restrictions

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 26/04/2020
2 of the 7 people who allegedly breached the curfew hours

Seven people appeared in a special sitting in the Suva Magistrates Court today for breaching curfew and social gathering restrictions.

Two 42-year-old men who allegedly breached the curfew hours have been granted bail.

Inia Cama Ledua and Nemani Biu were drinking liquor along a road in Suva during curfew hours last night.

Magistrate Joseph Daurewa has granted them bail with one surety each and $500 bond.

They have also been told to visit the Totogo Police Station every Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

Magistrate Daurewa also told the two men that they should not change their address and if they do so then they should get the approval from the court.

The case has been adjourned to 3rd June. Five people who allegedly breached social gathering restrictions have also been granted bail.

It is alleged that Timea Burenatau,Teweru Uriam, Benioni Malakito, Bataba Apisalome and Maere Banian were sharing food at Bidesi Park in Suva yesterday.

The defence lawyer objected to the charges as his clients had told him two of them were standing outside a car eating while 3 of them were inside the car.

Their lawyer also objected to the interview done on Friday where there was no interpreter present and some technical terms were used.

Magistrate Daurewa told the prosecution to provide the video in their next hearing and it should be typed out clearly.

The five people have been released on a bail bond of $500 each.

The case will be called again on 5th June.




Grace Road Church says they have violated neither the law of God nor this world's law

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 26/04/2020
Son of the founder of the Grace Road Church Daniel Sungdo

The son of the founder of the Grace Road Church Daniel Sungdo has refuted the charges of Assault, Incarceration, Child Abuse, and Fraud which his mother Reverend Okjoo Shin and the Church have been accused of by people they are calling traitors.

Sungdo says their church has violated neither the law of God nor this world's law.

The founder, Reverend Shin is serving a sentence of six years in prison for detaining her followers in Fiji and subjecting them to violence and barbaric rituals.

She has been serving for more than 1 year and 8 months.

The Suwon District Court, in South Korea, jailed her for keeping some 400 followers in captivity in Fiji, with their passports reportedly taken away by senior church leaders.

The court also said the followers spend their days performing forced labour and attending evening sermons.

In a more than 17 minutes video on its social media page, Sungdo addressed the issue directly saying “But to the self-proclaimed Christians, pastors, missionaries and the General Assembly who accused our Reverend and Grace Road Church of being a cult, to the people who were among us who discovered the truth and forsook the truth through their false testimonies, and the investigator (the son of a self-proclaimed missionary) who allied with the traitors with his devious plots, and to the press who turned a blind eye to the truth and branded our Reverend and our Church with intentionally maligned and devious editing: You have sued Grace Road Church, the group of true Christians who see, hear, believe and act by the Bible”

Grace Road Church has also been long accused of severe public beatings known as “ground threshing”.

Sungdo says what is so wrong about them carrying out threshing on the floor as written in the bible by understanding the word of truth.

He says they made a resolution to themselves and they slapped themselves adding how is this assault.

Sungdo says they are confident to confess and testify that all churches must carry out the biblical threshing floor and show an example that people are able to live by the law of God without requiring the world's law.

The Grace Road Church has also started a petition for a retrial of their leader's case in South Korea.

In a statement, the Church said "Grace Road Church's Reverend Okjoo Shin was sued by plaintiffs composed of people who claim to be victims on grounds of "bodily harm, special assault, assault, aggravated confinement, special confinement, fraud, violation of commercial law, violation of child welfare laws (neglect, abuse) and abetment of assault, sentenced to 6 years in 1st trial, 7 years in 2nd trial, and our appeal was dismissed at the Supreme Court"

Reverend Shin has been held in a detention centre from 24th July 2018 until now.




Grace Road Church claims in paid advertisement the reason for COVID-19 outbreak is the imprisonment and slandering of its leader

By Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga
Saturday 25/04/2020
The paid advertisement from The Grace Roads Chrurch that appeared in The Fiji Sun.

The Grace Road Church is claiming in a paid advertisement in the Fiji Sun that the reason for the COVID-19 outbreak is the unjust persecution, imprisonment and slandering of its leader Reverend Okjoo Shin as a cult.

It made this claim in the paid advertisement titled "The Judge of God - Judgement Has Now Begun".

Under the sub-heading - "COVID-19 : What is the reason?" Grace Road Church said, "We believe the reason for COVID-19 outbreak is because of Spirit of Truth was slandered as a cult, persecuted and imprisoned".

The leader of Grace Road Church Reverend Shin is mentioned in the advertisement as "The Spirit of Truth Reverend Okjoo Shin".

Shin-Ok-Ju-Founder-SM1
Shin Ok-Ju

The advertisement further says "Furthermore, some Christian leaders of the world, who use the Bible, transgressed against God.

Many plagues have emerged since creation, but this prevailing COVID-19 is completely different.

COVID-19 is God's Warning to turn from lawlessness and unrighteousness, God's sign to show the end of the time for the wicked with their works and God's Sword to judge this wicked world!"

The same advertisement has also been shared by Grace Road Church on its Facebook page.

Grace-Road-Church-covid-19-post-sm

The World Health Organization, the Health Ministry and health experts have stated coronaviruses are a large group of viruses, with six of these viruses known to cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to the more serious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The Health Ministry and WHO have stated that COVID-19 was discovered in late December 2019 after an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases was noted in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China.

On December 31st last year, China alerted the WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

The virus was unknown.

Several of those infected worked at the city's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which was shut down on January 1.

As health experts worked to identify the virus amid growing alarm, the number of infections exceeded 40.

On January 11th, China announced its first death from the virus, a 61-year-old man who had purchased goods from the seafood market.

Treatment did not improve his symptoms after he was admitted to hospital and he died of heart failure on the evening of January 9.

We are currently trying to speak to the Grace Road Church, Media Industry Development Authority and Fiji Sun on the publishing of the advertisement.

We are also asking MIDA if this conforms to the Code of Ethics for Advertising in the Media Act.




China provides USD$300K to Fiji to assist in their response to COVID-19 crisis

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Saturday 25/04/2020
Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo

USD$300,000 has been provided by the People’s Republic of China to the Fijian Government to assist in their response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo says work is also in progress to assist Fiji through the supply of Personal Protective Equipment where the first batch of supplies is expected to arrive this week followed by the next batch later this month.

Earlier in the week, they also donated USD$100,000 to the National Disaster Management Office to aid the relief and rebuilding efforts in communities affected by severe Tropical Cyclone Harold.




Brief survey on COVID-19 impact on the wider Fijian business community being done by Ministry of Commerce and International Finance Corporation

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 25/04/2020
Permanent Secretary Shaheen Ali

A brief survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wider Fijian business community is being done by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism, and Transport and the International Finance Corporation.

Permanent Secretary Shaheen Ali says they are working very closely with the various industries and Government agencies to get a fair assessment of immediate on the ground impact in order to devise policy redress and incentives.

He says the survey will help find practical solutions.

Ali says irrespective of how big or small the operation, everyone should have a say.

He further urged businesses across-all-sectors to participate in the survey to assist in the upcoming budgetary process, which has commenced, for the next financial year.

The survey will assess the overall impact of the crisis and TC Harold on businesses, what is and could be done to adapt in the short, medium, and long term, what changes are being made, and can be made to ensure business continuity, recovery, and growth




Practice physical distancing in your social gatherings of 20 people or fewer from Monday - Qiliho

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 25/04/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says it is important for people to know that they still have to maintain physical distancing if they are at a picnic or even at home grogging with others from Monday when social gatherings of 20 people or fewer will be allowed.

He says people can now drink grog with their neighbours or other people but it is important to maintain physical distancing, not to share bilos and cigarettes.

Qiliho says they are tasked with enforcing this but there should also be personal responsibility by people.

The Police Commissioner says it is still important for people to understand that if they have nothing to do they should stay home.

When asked if Police would arrest or caution those not practising physical distancing especially with social gatherings of 20 people or fewer allowed from Monday, Qiliho says all of these things will come into play and they have to do that because they are tasked with enforcing it.

Qiliho says he would also like to thank the majority of Fijians who have been following the restrictions.

There are other social issues we have to be aware of as a lot of people are out of jobs - Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says for them in policing it is not just about COVID-19 because there are other social issues they have to be aware of as a lot of people are out of jobs.

He says people will see their posture changing and there will be snap checkpoints if they see people are not adhering to the restrictions.

Qiliho also says it is also important for parents and guardians to know where their children are as it is a difficult task for Police to be picking up juveniles for breaches.




58 arrested in the last 24 hours for allegedly failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 25/04/2020
[Photo:Fiji Police Force]

58 people were arrested by Police in the last 24 hours for allegedly failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions and 43 of those arrests were in relation to social gathering breaches.

Police confirm most of the arrests for social gathering breaches were in relation to people drinking grog and alcohol in groups.

The most number of arrests were recorded in the Western Division which is 27 and 20 were for social gathering breaches.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 16 reports and 11 were for social gathering.

The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.

Qiliho says the Eastern Division recorded 13 cases including 10 for social gathering breaches.

Two arrests for social gathering breaches were made in the Central Division.

The Central Division which includes Suva City, Waimanu Road, Toganivalu Road, Reservoir Road and the whole of Laucala Bay.




There are other social issues we have to be aware of as a lot of people are out of jobs - Qiliho

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 25/04/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho [Photo: Fijian Government]

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says for them in policing it is not just about COVID-19 because there are other social issues they have to be aware of as a lot of people are out of jobs.

He says people will see their posture changing and there will be snap checkpoints if they see people are not adhering to the restrictions.

Qiliho also says it is also important for parents and guardians to know where their children are as it is a difficult task for Police to be picking up juveniles for breaches.

Practice physical distancing in your social gatherings of 20 people or fewer from Monday - Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says it is important for people to know that they still have to maintain physical distancing if they are at a picnic or even at home grogging with others from Monday when social gatherings of 20 people or fewer will be allowed.

He says people can now drink grog with their neighbours or other people but it is important to maintain physical distancing, not to share bilos and cigarettes.

Qiliho says they are tasked with enforcing this but there should also be personal responsibility by people.

The Police Commissioner says it is still important for people to understand that if they have nothing to do they should stay home.

When asked if Police would arrest or caution those not practising physical distancing especially with social gatherings of 20 people or fewer allowed from Monday, Qiliho says all of these things will come into play and they have to do that because they are tasked with enforcing it.

Qiliho says he would also like to thank the majority of Fijians who have been following the restrictions.




10pm to 5am curfew from tonight

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced progressive relaxation of the health restrictions relating to COVID-19 – which include the nationwide curfew to start at 10pm and go until 5am from tonight, the resumption of all passenger inter-island travel, by air and sea from tomorrow and social gatherings of 20 people or fewer will be allowed from Monday.

Bainimarama also says if even one new case is detected, the most stringent health protection measures will snap right back into place.

He confirms that nightclubs, swimming pools, cinemas and gyms will all continue to remain closed.

Houses of worship will remain closed until further notice.

All schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020.

  • 114 samples tested since this Monday and all have returned negative.
  • No new COVID-19 cases so far.
  • All remaining COVID-19 patients in stable condition.
  • 10 out of 18 patients have fully recovered from the virus.
  • Only 8 patients remain with COVID-19.
  • No confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fiji has been over the age of 65.
  • The sobering reality is that those who contracted the virus were young and in good health.
  • With over 900 tests having been made only 2% have come back positive with is far lower than world figures.
  • PM has declared this weekend Fiji's Weekend of Readiness and Responsibility.
  • Nightclubs, swimming pools and gyms to remain closed.
  • From Saturday 25th April curfew will be from 10 pm to 5 am.
  • Inter-island travel to begin on Sunday 26th April.
  • Social gatherings of 20 people or less will be allowed from Monday 27th April.


This weekend is Fiji’s Weekend of Readiness and Responsibility

People should maintain social distancing, use sanitisers and wear masks - PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says they have declared this weekend as Fiji’s Weekend of Readiness and Responsibility.

Bainimarama says through the weekend, the government needs to see Fijians take greater ownership over the health containment measures.

He says they plan to gradually scale back a handful of the health protection measures.

Bainimarama says the Weekend of Readiness and Responsibility starts with the Leptospirosis, Typhoid, Dengue and Diarrhoea Campaign.

He says every Fijian should spend this weekend tracking down breeding grounds for mosquitoes as this has become a concern after Tropical Cyclone Harold.

He has asked people to empty out containers, tyres or rubbish that hold water and for people to cooperate with medical teams if they conduct screenings in your area.

Bainimarama also says from Sunday morning, as inter-island travel resumes, all transportation vehicles, whether that’s taxis, mini-buses, buses, boats or planes, are encouraged to provide hand sanitiser to passengers upon boarding, and members of the public are encouraged to wear masks while travelling.

He also stresses that through the weekend, all of the advice remains in effect.

Physical distancing of two metres should be maintained at all times.

The Prime Minister stresses for people not to share cigarettes, or takis or bilos during grog sessions.

He has also stressed for people to limit unnecessary person-to-person contact as much as humanly possible.

Through the weekend, the coronavirus testing will also press ahead.

COVID-19 remains public enemy number one – PM

Government restocks thousands of COVID-19 tests

Only 2% of the tests in Fiji have returned COVID-19 positive

The Prime Minister says as we see some of the restrictions lifted, it’s vital the Fijian public go about their lives responsibly, in ways that do not compromise the practice of physical distancing and put Fijian lives at risk.

Bainimarama says coronavirus is still public enemy number one.

He says since this Monday, they have tested 114 more samples for COVID-19, and all have returned negative.

The Prime Minister says the health screening effort in Ba is progressing extremely well.

Bainimarama says nationwide, the government has restocked with thousands of COVID-19 tests, a step critical to boosting confidence in the success of the health containment efforts.

He also says 10 of the 18 patients have made full recoveries from the virus.

There are eight active cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji, meaning that, for the first time, more Fijians have recovered than are currently still living with the virus.

Bainimarama has applauded every Fijian responsible for aiding these recoveries and delivering us this beacon of hope.

But he says as relieved as we all are, we must still reckon with some sobering realities.

The Prime Minister says no confirmed case of coronavirus in Fiji has been in a person over the age of 65. He also says most of the patients have had no underlying health conditions.

Bainimarama says his point is, in Fiji, so far we have been blessed by demographics, and more vulnerable Fijians have been spared. But he says if we lull ourselves into complacency, that could all too tragically change.

He also says across the world, over 186,000 lives have been lost to this virus.

Bainimarama says every day, tens of thousands more add to the total. He says we cannot allow Fiji to fall victim to the same fate.

He stresses that we are at war with COVID-19, we must stay vigilant, we must stay disciplined and we must keep ourselves one step ahead of this killer virus.

The Prime Minister also says if we keep the course, we will be able to confidently rank ourselves among the nations leading the world in stomping out coronavirus.

He says our success so far leaves us reason for cautious optimism.

Bainimarama says they have isolated every close contact of every case of the virus in our country, a world-leading feat.

He says of the over 900 samples they have tested in Fiji, only 2% have returned positive, compared from up to 19% or even higher in harder-hit countries.


High-need households whose homes have been badly damaged after TC Harold will be assisted - PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the Ministry of Housing and Community Development is working to provide relief to high-need households affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold as quickly as possible.

According to the latest NDMO report, 635 homes across the country were destroyed by TC Harold, with over 2,100 suffering damage.

Bainimarama says as has been the case in the wake of previous cyclones, the government will be subsidising the cost of government-procured building materials for eligible households, those making less than $15,000 a year, on a one-third, two-thirds basis.

He says alternately, those applying for assistance can cover the cost of all building materials but pay more affordable rates based on government bulk-buying, and then have those discounted materials delivered to them with all shipping costs covered.

Bainimarama confirms that trees felled by the cyclone are also being repurposed into timber that will be provided free-of-charge for impacted homes by the Ministry of Forestry.

The Prime Minister says for anyone benefiting from this programme who cannot secure carpenters of their own, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development’s carpentry team, assisted by the Public Rental Board, will be provided free of charge for repairs and reconstruction.

He says they will also be assisting with building plans to ensure the new homes are cyclone-resilient, and they will also be carrying out site inspections to keep everything up to standard.

The Prime Minister also says assistance has made its way to the hardest-hit areas across Fiji, with thousands of food ration packs and other supplies being delivered to even the most remote corners of the country.




COVID-19 remains public enemy number one – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The Prime Minister says as we see some of the restrictions lifted, it’s vital the Fijian public go about their lives responsibly, in ways that do not compromise the practice of physical distancing and put Fijian lives at risk.

Bainimarama says coronavirus is still public enemy number one.

He says since this Monday, they have tested 114 more samples for COVID-19, and all have returned negative.

The Prime Minister says the health screening effort in Ba is progressing extremely well.

Bainimarama says nationwide, the government has restocked with thousands of COVID-19 tests, a step critical to boosting confidence in the success of the health containment efforts.

He also says 10 of the 18 patients have made full recoveries from the virus.

There are eight active cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji, meaning that, for the first time, more Fijians have recovered than are currently still living with the virus.

Bainimarama has applauded every Fijian responsible for aiding these recoveries and delivering us this beacon of hope.

But he says as relieved as we all are, we must still reckon with some sobering realities.

The Prime Minister says no confirmed case of coronavirus in Fiji has been in a person over the age of 65. He also says most of the patients have had no underlying health conditions.

Bainimarama says his point is, in Fiji, so far we have been blessed by demographics, and more vulnerable Fijians have been spared. But he says if we lull ourselves into complacency, that could all too tragically change.

He also says across the world, over 186,000 lives have been lost to this virus.

Bainimarama says every day, tens of thousands more added to the total. He says we cannot allow Fiji to fall victim to the same fate.

He stresses that we are at war with COVID-19, we must stay vigilant, we must stay disciplined and we must keep ourselves one step ahead of this killer virus.

The Prime Minister also says if we keep the course, we will be able to confidently rank ourselves among the nations leading the world in stomping out coronavirus.

He says our success so far leaves us a reason for cautious optimism.

Bainimarama says they have isolated every close contact of every case of the virus in our country, a world-leading feat.

He says of the over 900 samples they have tested in Fiji, only 2% have returned positive, compared from up to 19% or even higher in harder-hit countries.




10pm to 5am curfew from tonight

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/04/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced progressive relaxation of the health restrictions relating to COVID-19 – which include the nationwide curfew to start at 10pm and go until 5am from tonight, the resumption of all passenger inter-island travel, by air and sea from tomorrow and social gatherings of 20 people or fewer will be allowed from Monday.

Bainimarama also says if even one new case is detected, the most stringent health protection measures will snap right back into place.

He confirms that nightclubs, swimming pools, cinemas and gyms will all continue to remain closed.

Houses of worship will remain closed until further notice.

All schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020.




University lecturer Vinay Nand facing charges of bribery and failure to comply with orders appears in court

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 24/04/2020

A 40-year-old university lecturer of Koroba, Nakasi is facing charges of bribery and failure to comply with orders related to COVID-19 appeared in the Nausori Magistrates Court today.

Vinay Nand was allegedly found drinking liquor with Shalvin Goundar and Saten Mudaliar at Deepwater Settlement on Wednesday afternoon.

It is alleged that Nand tried to bribe a Police Officer by offering $500 to be released from custody.

It is alleged that Nand initially took out $40 from his pocket and told the Police Officer that he will withdraw and give the remaining amount later.

The court has ordered for Nand to surrender his travel documents.

Nand has been released on bail and the matter has been adjourned to the 12th of next month.

Goundar and Mudaliar have also been released on bail.




76 arrested last night for alleged breach of COVID-19 restrictions with majority being caught drinking yaqona and alcohol and playing rugby

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 24/04/2020
Police operations in the Central Division. [image: Fiji police}

76 people were arrested last night for allegedly breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

In most cases, people were caught drinking yaqona and alcohol.

A group of people were arrested in the Western Division after they were caught playing rugby.

Of the 76 cases, 34 were recorded in the Western Division with 26 social gathering breaches and 8 curfew breaches.

The Southern Division which includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area recorded 14 cases of social gathering breaches.

The Central Division which includes Suva City, Waimanu Road, Toganivalu Road, Reservoir Road and the whole of Laucala Bay recorded 13 cases, 12 for social gathering breaches and one for curfew breach.

The Eastern Division recorded 12 cases of social gathering breaches while the North recorded three 3 cases, 1 for breach of curfew and 2 for social gathering breaches.




Fiji Muslim League gives 600 food packs to families suffering from COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Friday 24/04/2020
Fiji Muslim League Suva Branch provided food packs to the officers at Nabua Police Station and those manning Nabua lock-down stations.[Photo:Fiji Muslim League]

The Fiji Muslim League has given 600 food packs to families suffering from hardships caused by COVID-19.

This has been confirmed by the League President Haji Hafizud Dean Khan who says they will be helping 200 more families in Lautoka over the weekend.

Khan says essential food items are being given to families affected.

He adds this effort is being funded by the members of the league and other private donors.

Khan also adds they are helping people as they have received requests from the members of the community.





Nausori juveniles who breached the curfew regulations to meet each other appear in Court

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 23/04/2020

A 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy of Buiduna, Nausori who have been charged with failure to comply with curfew orders appeared in the Nausori Magistrates Court this afternoon.

It is alleged that the girl left her home during curfew hours last night and spent the night at the boy’s house.

The 16-year-old boy has also been charged with a count of abduction.

The boy has pleaded guilty to a count of failure to comply with curfew orders but pleaded not guilty to the charge of abduction.

He has been released on bail, an interim domestic violence restraining order has been issued and a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am has also been placed.

The girl’s plea has been deferred and the matter has been adjourned to the 7th of May.

She has also been released on bail.




Private schools and day care centres to remain closed until 12th June 2020

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 23/04/2020

The Ministry of Education says private schools and day care centres should also remain closed until 12th June 2020.

The Ministry says it had announced that all schools will remain closed until 12th June 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Classes are expected to resume from 16th June.

The Ministry says any further extension on school closure will also be applicable to the private schools and day care centres.

It says parents can also contact the respective heads of schools for additional resource materials however, these resources are supplementary and are non-examinable.




ANZ Bank donates AUD $500,000 to help COVID-19 relief efforts in eight Pacific countries

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 23/04/2020
ANZ Bank Fiji

ANZ Bank today announced it would donate AUD $500,000 to help COVID-19 relief efforts in eight Pacific countries.

Red Cross Fiji will receive $200,000 to support their relief efforts for families affected by the global pandemic and cyclone Harold.

ANZ Fiji Country Head, Saud Minam said the double crisis of dealing with cyclone Harold, on top of the global COVID-19 pandemic has meant many Fijians are experiencing significant hardship and there are families in real need, where one or more caregiver has lost employment.

ANZ Regional Executive for the Pacific Tessa Price said combating the spread of COVID-19 was a regional challenge and that ANZ is playing its role to support our customers and communities.

Director-General for the Red Cross in Fiji, Ilisapeci Rokotunidau, said the staff and volunteers felt overwhelmed by the donation.

The donation follows fee removals, interest rate reductions and loan repayment deferral options already offered by ANZ to support Pacific customers experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.




3 men who were arrested for allegedly breaching curfew hours are also facing drug-related charges

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 23/04/2020

Three men who were arrested for allegedly breaching curfew hours are also facing drug-related charges after they were allegedly found with white substances believed to be methamphetamine.

Police say the three were arrested in Nadonumai, Lami after officers found them sitting at an empty roadside market stall after 11pm.

They say a search conducted resulted in the discovery of plastic containing white crystals believed to be methamphetamine and sachets of dried leaves believed to be marijuana.

Police say they have also seized cash which is believed to have been gained from the sale of illicit substances.

The three remain in custody as investigations continue.




FNPF pleads with members to be honest while applying for COVID-19 assistance

By Iva Danford
Thursday 23/04/2020

The Fiji National Provident Fund is pleading with its members to be honest while applying for the COVID-19 assistance as they have noted that some people that are not affected have applied.

This has been highlighted by the FNPF Chief Financial Officer, Pravinesh Singh who says there are cases where fraudulent letters from employers have been circulated.

Singh says this is not an opportunity to profit from the assistance that has been rolled out by FNPF and government.

He says the requirement for this assistance is very clear and this includes those that have been terminated, reduced hours, reduced pay, leave without pay or indefinite leave.

Singh says this assistance is not for civil servants as they have not suffered any pay cut.

FNPF CEO, Jaoji Koroi says they try to process 5,000 applications per day.

Koroi says a total of $18.19 million has been paid out so far by the Fiji National Provident Fund and the government through the COVID-19 withdrawal assistance.

He says $2.39 million has been paid by the government and $15.8 million has been paid by the Fund.

Koroi says about 25,320 FNPF members have been assisted through the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

He says the volume of applications received continues to increase and to date, they have received more than 52,083 applications.




52 people test negative for COVID-19 last night – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Fiji now only has 10 active cases of COVID-19 in Fiji

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that all 52 COVID-19 tests last night have returned negative.

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has said in a brief to the Prime Minister that 23 sailors who have been in quarantine have tested all negative. He says they can now go to home isolation.

It has also been confirmed that 3 more cases have tested negative twice.

This means that 8 out of the 18 positive COVID-19 patients in Fiji have recovered.

Fiji now only has 10 active cases of COVID-19 in Fiji

The recovery rate at this stage is 8/18 which is 44%.




Students will now be able to access educational programs through a new free-to-air Education Channel on Walesi

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Fijian students from Kindergarten to Year 13 will now be able to access educational programs through a new free-to-air Education Channel on Walesi.

Minister for Education Rosy Akbar has urged students to take advantage of this opportunity provided by Government and learn as much as they can during this time.

Akbar says Fijian students will have access to a wide range of relevant curriculum-based educational programmes in literacy, numeracy and all other subjects from kindergarten to Year 13.

She added this initiative is for the benefit of our young ones and she is urging parents to encourage their children to view the free-to-air channel and, when possible, get actively involved in the process.

Students will be able to access the channel at any time through Walesi.

To further ensure that students are engaged in their studies during this period, the Ministry of Education has also prepared supplementary resource materials that will be accessible online.

This syllabus has been carefully prepared by the Curriculum Advisory Services Department of the Ministry of Education with the current circumstances in mind and covers all critical information to keep Fijians students up to date from the comfort of their own homes.

Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Akbar held negotiations with the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation and Walesi to implement the new educational channel.




Health Ministry urges the public not to rely on IgM/IgG rapid tests for diagnosis of COVID-19

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 22/04/2020
IgM/IgG rapid tests [image: medakit.com]

Ministry of Health has strongly adviced all health providers in Fiji to cease offering IgM/IgG rapid tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

The Ministry states that these tests are based on the detection of antibodies and antigens and they are not reliable for the acute diagnosis of COVID-19.

They say members of the public should not rely on these rapid test kits, as their use jeopardises Fiji’s efforts to contain and suppress the coronavirus.

The Ministry states the World Health Organisation and the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia have both recently issued statements strongly advising against the use of these antibody and antigen based rapid test kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

The Ministry states that the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia recommends that the new IgG/IgM tests are not used to screen for early infection, and that current Polymerase Chain Reaction tests remain as the primary testing method for COVID-19.

They say false negatives would have serious risks of incorrectly reassuring people and therefore increasing the spread of infection within the community.

The Ministry say the molecular based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing worldwide and is the test conducted at the Ministry of Health, Fiji Centre for Disease Control.

They stress that the only reliable testing for COVID-19 in Fiji is available through the Ministry of Health’s molecular laboratory at Fiji CDC.




Qiliho confirms 3 police officers quarantined in Labasa after attending to a missing child report in the Soasoa lockdown area

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Three police officers have been quarantined in Labasa after attending to a missing report in the Soasoa lockdown area.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the three officers had gone to attend to a report of a missing child.

Qiliho says the officers were quarantined as a precautionary measure after being advised to do so by the Ministry of Health.

He says they were quarantined straight after attending to the report.




Ranjit Garments has committed to make and donate bed-sheets pillowcases and blankets to the Ministry of Health

By Violet Matakibau
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Ranjit Garments donated a total of 850 bed-sheets and 850 pillow cases last week. [image: Health Ministry]

Ranjit Garments has committed to make and donate 3000 bed-sheets 3000 pillowcases and 300 blankets to the Ministry of Health.

The items will be used in community isolation facilities set up by Ministry Of Health across the country.

They donated a total of 850 bed-sheets and 850 pillow cases last week and will be donating the rest in the course of two weeks.

The Ministry of Health says such timely assistance from corporate organisations go a long way in responding to this pandemic.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services also thanks other companies and organisations who have contributed to the Ministry’s efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19.




4 youth volunteers donate hand made masks and antibacterial hand washing soaps to the Health Ministry

By Priteshni Nand
Wednesday 22/04/2020
The hand made masks will be used in the fever clinics around the country.

Few youth volunteers in the Northern Division have come forward to provide assistance towards the provision of masks and antibacterial hand washing soaps to assist the health workers in the fight against COVID-19.

This initiative has been made possible through the Ministry of Youth and Sports office in the Northern Division and the Labasa District Youth Council.

The team have donated 160 hand made masks and 160 antibacterial hand washing soaps to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Ministry of Youth and Sports Manager North, Walter Matalau and the President of the Labasa District Youth Council, Shaneel Mohammed handed over the donation to the Divisional Medical Advisor North, Dr. Hari Subramanian today.

The volunteers had undergone practical sewing and soap making training through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Skills and Empowerment program.

The Ministry of Youth says they will be contacting ex-trainees in sewing and soap making to assist where possible.






April sitting of parliament deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 22/04/2020
An empty parliament chamber before a recent sitting. [image: Parliament of Fiji]

The April sitting of parliament has been deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the life-saving directives and restrictions put in place by the Ministry of Health.

The Parliamentary Business Committee has agreed that all Parliamentary business for the April sitting of parliament be dealt with in the May sitting which is scheduled to take place from 25th to 29th May, 2020.




52 people test negative for COVID-19 last night – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Fiji now only has 10 active cases of COVID-19 in Fiji

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that all 52 COVID-19 tests last night have returned negative.

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has said in a brief to the Prime Minister that 23 sailors who have been in quarantine have tested all negative. He says they can now go to home isolation.

It has also been confirmed that 3 more cases have tested negative twice.

This means that 8 out of the 18 positive COVID-19 patients in Fiji have recovered.

Fiji now only has 10 active cases of COVID-19 in Fiji

The recovery rate at this stage is 8/18 which is 44%.




62 arrests made in the last 24 hours while the Western Division recorded 22 cases regarding COVID-19 restriction breaches

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 22/04/2020
Police operations regarding COVID-19 restrictions

62 arrests were made regarding COVID-19 restriction breaches with the Western Division recording 22 cases in the last 24 hours.

Of the 22, 17 were for social gathering and 5 for curfew breach.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the Northern Division continues to record social gathering breach reports with another 13 arrests made yesterday.

Southern Division recorded 15 cases, 12 for social gathering and 3 for curfew breach.

The Central Division recorded 12 cases, 11 for social gathering and 1 for curfew breach.

Qiliho says everyone needs to remember that physical exercise activities are limited to those that can be done within safe physical distance from others and therefore rules out any team sport like activities.

The Police Commissioner says this is a concern because apart from the number of social gathering arrests made for drinking yaqona and alcohol, people are being arrested for playing rugby and other team like sports.




Total of $13.95M paid out so far by FNPF and the government through the COVID-19 withdrawal assistance

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 21/04/2020
FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi

A total of $13.95 million has been paid out so far by the Fiji National Provident Fund and the government through the COVID-19 withdrawal assistance.

FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi says $2.05 million has been paid by the government and $11.90 million has been paid by the Fund.

Koroi says about 18,400 FNPF members have been assisted through the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme.

He says that the volume of applications received continues to increase and to date, they have received more than 46,791 applications.

Koroi says FNPF teams have been working continuously ever since this withdrawal scheme started and a total of 14,900 applications still need to be processed and paid.

He says the number of applications received so far is almost 70% of the total number of applications that were processed by the Fund in the whole of 2019.

Koroi says as the Fund copes with this huge demand, they are also pleading with members to be patient, reassuring members that each application will be processed.

He says with the Fund implemented a new digital submission platform through the Employer Online Portal, a huge number of applications were received manually.

Koroi says 7,700 applications were received from the Western Division manually dating back to 1 April 2020.

He says these applications have been prioritized for processing this week as the forms were delayed due to lockdown restrictions which only enabled the Fund to receive the forms last week.

Koroi says the same application forms also underwent a quarantine and scanning process to ensure that it was uploaded for online processing.

He says applications forms received via the Funds email platforms are also prioritized for processing this week.

Koroi says they understand the urgency of disbursing members’ funds due to the economic hardships that have come about as a result of COVID-1, however, they will ensure that applications go through the required checks.

He says teams have also been mobilised to deal with incomplete or queried applications and are engaging daily with employers to verify members’ details.

Koroi says from the applications that have been received, some were queried due to employers not signing or stamping the form; incomplete form; members not submitting the requirements with their completed applications and employers not submitting required documents with the members’ application forms.

Koroi says the Fund has also received enquiries from members about the dual payments of top-up amount from Government.

He says government top-up portion is processed on the same day, with the FNPF balance, however, members whose bank accounts are held with Westpac, BSP, Bank of Baroda, HFC Bank or Bred Bank, funds are updated one day later.

Koroi says this is due to FNPF’s EFT platform being ANZ Bank’s Transactive payment portal, which processes payments for other banks, on the next business day.

He has reassured members that there is no need to panic and that the Fund will pay out the member as timely as possible.

The CEO says that those opting for M-PAISA payment through Vodafone, Inkk and Digicel or Post Fiji BillPaid receive their payment in full, however, any fees associated with this service will be met by the member.

Koroi says FNPF has not decided on the closing date for the COVID-19 withdrawal assistance however they are encouraging members to come forth and apply now if they wish to do so.

He says FNPF will continue to assess as they believe that they have passed the peak submission period for the scheme.




Woman who allegedly breached curfew in Delainavesi, Lami further remanded in custody

By Priteshni Nand
Tuesday 21/04/2020

A 37-year-old woman who allegedly breached the curfew in Delainavesi in Lami has been further remanded in custody.

Kalesi Kamikamica appeared before Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili today.

Chief Magistrate Ratuvili says Kamikamica's psychiatric evaluation report shows that she is fit to take her plea.

Kamikamica had earlier told the court that she was involved in an assault case and was referred to the Saint Giles Hospital by the CWM Hospital and was told that she needed further treatment because of her condition.

The case has been adjourned to the 5th of May.




19 juveniles among the 37 people arrested in the last 24 hours for alleged breach of COVID-19 restrictions

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 21/04/2020

37 people were arrested in the last 24 hours for alleged breach of COVID-19 restrictions and 19 were juveniles under the age of 18 years.

Majority of the 37 people were arrested in the Southern Division.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says majority of the social gathering breach reports involving juveniles were of those playing rugby and sitting around in numbers in public places.

Qiliho is urging parents and guardians to step up on the monitoring of their children's activities at all times.

He says the Western and Central Divisions both recorded nil arrests which is commendable.

The Central Division includes Suva City, Waimanu Road, Toganivalu Road, Reservoir Road and the whole of Laucala Bay.

The Southern Division recorded 32 cases.

27 of these were for social gathering breaches and 5 for breach of curfew.

The Northern Division recorded 3 cases of curfew breaches.

The Eastern Division recorded one case of curfew breaches and one for social gathering breach.




COVID-19: 1 new case confirmed by PM taking the total to 18

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 20/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama
Fiji has confirmed the 18th COVID-19 case.

  • Ban on social gatherings still stands.
  • 51-year-old woman from Ba
  • She returned from overseas
  • First tested on April 18th
  • She shares a home with three others who all tested negative
  • All have been placed in quarantine
  • Ba will not be on lockdown
  • 8pm-5am National curfew still stands
  • Three Fijians have recovered from COVID-19

Fiji has confirmed the 18th COVID-19 case after the positive test of a 51 year old woman from Ba who had earlier returned from the United States of America.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the woman was already in self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from the US.

She showed symptoms after the quarantine period.

The woman shares a house with 3 others.

Bainimarama says all the 3 have tested negative however they are also quarantined.

The patient returned from the US on the 22nd of March.

Bainimarama says the results of the woman’s test make it likely this patient has been carrying COVID-19 for weeks.

He says luckily, the contact tracing which began as soon as she was first tested on the 18th of April, identifies her as a low-risk transmitter.

He says they have traced and identified her other casual contacts and they have all been entered into compulsory home quarantine.

Bainimarama says mobile teams will be conducting a large-scale screening of the entire province.

He says as with Lautoka and Suva, public cooperation is vital to this effort.

He says if we don’t see sufficient numbers from these screenings, Ba will risk a total lockdown.

24-hour nationwide curfew not off the table - Bainimarama

POLICE-SM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the possibility of a 24-hour nationwide curfew is not off the table, and the power to avoid that drastic alternative rests with every Fijian.

Bainimarama has told the people of Fiji to do the right thing today, and spare us suffering down the road. The Prime Minister says the 51 year old woman from Ba was certainly not the only unconfirmed coronavirus case in the country.

He says this virus is proving as stealthy as it is unpredictable, but it can be beaten.

Bainimarama says it can be beaten by keeping to the simple strategy of physical distancing. He says the difference of two metres of physical distance between us means the difference between victory and defeat in this campaign.

The Prime Minister says it means the difference between life and death for vulnerable Fijians. He also over the weekend, aside from dozens more arrests, they have received reports across the country of blatant violations of the physical distancing directives.

Bainimarama says too many Fijians are still behaving as if the virus isn’t among us. He says thank God, there are no deaths due to the virus in Fiji. But he says if people keep crowding in public places, gathering socially, or otherwise acting like these are normal times, there’s no question, we will lose lives.

Bainimarama says social gatherings are banned, and the 8pm to 5am curfew remains in effect. He says all of us should stay in our homes as much as possible.

If you see someone violating the directives, do not stay silent, pick up the phone and call 158 or call police.

He also says the government is introducing new health protection measures at hospitals nationwide.

He says only two visitors a day will be allowed to see a patient, and the visitation window will only be one hour.

Visitors will enter facilities one at a time and will need to be health-checked prior to entry.

The standing ban on visitations to isolation wards and facilities will continue.

Bainimarama says they will also be introducing compulsory testing for Fijians returning from overseas in government-funded quarantine after 14 days. If they test negative after the critical 14-day incubation period, they will be able to spend the remaining 14 days of their quarantine at home.




PM honours the life of Village Headman of Baleyaganiga Village who was allegedly killed while trying to break up a drinking party

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 20/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has honoured the life of Turaga-ni-Koro, Morotikei Mainilala, serving in Baleyaganiga Village on Vanua Levu who was allegedly brutally killed while trying to break up a drinking party.

He says those suspected of involvement have been charged. The Prime Minister says the ban on social gatherings exists to stop the sort of person-to-person contact that spreads the deadly coronavirus.

He says it’s clear Mainilala knew that and it’s why he strove to prevent his fellow Fijians from violating the health protection measures.

Bainimarama has extended his deepest sympathies to his wife, his six children, and his community.

He says Mainilala’s family and all of Fiji, have lost a responsible leader and a brave Fijian.




24-hour nationwide curfew not off the table - Bainimarama

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 20/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the possibility of a 24-hour nationwide curfew is not off the table, and the power to avoid that drastic alternative rests with every Fijian.

Bainimarama has told the people of Fiji to do the right thing and spare us suffering down the road.

Fiji has confirmed the 18th COVID-19 case after the positive test of a 51 year old woman from Ba who had earlier returned from the United States of America. The Prime Minister says this woman from Ba was certainly not the only unconfirmed coronavirus case in the country.

He says this virus is proving as stealthy as it is unpredictable, but it can be beaten.

Bainimarama says it can be beaten by keeping to the simple strategy of physical distancing. He says the difference of two metres of physical distance between us means the difference between victory and defeat in this campaign.

The Prime Minister says it means the difference between life and death for vulnerable Fijians. He also says that over the weekend, aside from dozens more arrests, they have received reports across the country of blatant violations of the physical distancing directives.

Bainimarama says too many Fijians are still behaving as if the virus isn’t among us. He says thank God, there are no deaths due to the virus in Fiji. But he says if people keep crowding in public places, gathering socially, or otherwise acting like these are normal times, there’s no question, we will lose lives.

Bainimarama says social gatherings are banned, and the 8pm to 5am curfew remains in effect. He says all of us should stay in our homes as much as possible.

If you see someone violating the directives, do not stay silent, pick up the phone and call 158 or call police.

He also says the government is introducing new health protection measures at hospitals nationwide.

He says only two visitors a day will be allowed to see a patient, and the visitation window will only be one hour.

Visitors will enter facilities one at a time and will need to be health-checked prior to entry.

The standing ban on visitations to isolation wards and facilities will continue.

Bainimarama says they will also be introducing compulsory testing for Fijians returning from overseas in government-funded quarantine after 14 days. If they test negative after the critical 14-day incubation period, they will be able to spend the remaining 14 days of their quarantine at home.




We are actively investigating 305 labour complaints lodged in relation to COVID-19 - Bala

By Violet Matakibau
Monday 20/04/2020
The Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala

The Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala says they are actively investigating 305 labour complaints lodged in relation to COVID-19, such as non-payment of statutory leave entitlements and other entitlements under the Employment Relations Act 2007.

Bala says the Ministry is ensuring that job losses are minimised and that all guarantees are made to workers including paid leave are fulfilled.

He says through its toll-free number 1535, their customer care centre has also received a total of 435 employment-related queries from workers and employers since it was launched on 29 January 2020.

Bala adds the Ministry has also been conducting health and hygiene awareness training, with 1,311 sessions completed at high-risk workplaces such as airports, seaports, hotels, markets, supermarkets, and banks.

Since the start of the year, the Ministry of Employment has conducted a total of 711 labour inspections, resulting in the successful recovery of $179,110.39 that has been directly paid out to the affected workers.




33-yr-old man charged with Disobedience of Lawful Order under the Public Health Act remanded in custody

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 20/04/2020

A 33-year-old man charged with Disobedience of Lawful Order under the Public Health Act has been remanded in custody by the Suva Magistrates Court.

It is alleged that Josefa Biliwaqa breached the orders of curfew at 6 Miles Tacirua on the 3rd of April.

He was on a bench warrant as he had two other cases pending in court.

The accused is also charged with attempted rape. The alleged incident occurred in Kadavu in 2005.

Biliwaqa is also charged with criminal trespass. The alleged incident also occurred in Kadavu in 2011.

The case has been adjourned to the 4th of May, 2020.




Second day in a row no arrests made in the Central Division, 93 people arrested in other divisions for breaching COVID-19 restrictions

By Semi Turaga
Monday 20/04/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

For the second day in a row, there have been no COVID-19 related breaches in the Central Division but the continuing concern is that a lot of people are still allegedly grogging and drinking alcohol with those they do not live with.

The Central Division includes Suva City, Waimanu Road, Toganivalu Road, Reservoir Road and the whole of Laucala Bay.

Police confirm that most of the alleged social gathering breaches in the last 24 hours was in relation to people grogging and drinking alcohol with those they do not live with.

Of the 93 reported cases in the last 24 hours, 36 were recorded in the South.

The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area. The Eastern Division recorded 26 cases of social gathering breaches with 1 case of curfew breach.

There were 19 arrests in the Northern Division for curfew breaches.

The Western Division recorded 10 cases of social gathering breaches and one for breach of curfew.




Agriculture COVID-19 Response initiative has been suspended until the 4th of May, 2020

By Violet Matakibau
Sunday 19/04/2020
Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy

Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy says their Agriculture COVID-19 Response initiative has been suspended for two weeks as they are focusing on rehabilitation efforts for Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Dr Reddy says they have dispatched a team of 20 officials, consisting of technical officers, paravets and commodity specialists to assist and support farmers and people as an immediate response to TC Harold.

He says the ministry has supplied kumala cuttings, vegetable seeds, essential and immediate veterinary supplies that include antibiotics, pig de-wormers, anti-diarrhoea medicines and vitamins to farmers in Kadavu, Vatulele, Malolo Island, Yasawa and Lau Groups.

He says they supplied emergency veterinary kits so that officers can attend to livestock which might have been injured during the cyclone and also 15 coils of wire for villages in Kadavu and Lau to confine their livestock which may have gone astray due to the cyclone and poses a threat to their root crops.

Reddy has also assured that the Ministry would ensure that everyone has a continuous supply of locally grown fresh, nutritious produce throughout these trying times.

He adds the Ministry of Agriculture has also suspended its Agriculture COVID-19 Response initiative as it focuses efforts on rehabilitating TC Harold affected areas.

The Agriculture COVID-19 Response initiative will resume on the 4th of May, 2020.




Follow the COVID-19 social gathering restrictions even during funeral gatherings - Dr Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan, Iva Danford
Sunday 19/04/2020
Heath Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that the restrictions remain for funerals and burial services and these gatherings should remain at less than 20.

Doctor Waqainabete highlighted this after Fijivillage was alerted about a gathering of more than 20 people at Vugalei, Lami on Saturday.

We have also received reports from some concerned people on the large number of people during funeral gatherings in Suva on Friday and Saturday.

Doctor Waqainabete says family members should be considerate and keep the numbers to less than 20 people.

The Minister stresses that nothing about the COVID-19 restrictions is relaxed at this point in time.




No arrests made in the central, 67 people arrested in other divisions for breaching COVID-19 restrictions

By Iva Danford
Sunday 19/04/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

No curfew or social gathering related arrests were made last night in the Central Division but 67 people were arrested in other divisions for breaches of the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Central Division includes Suva City, Waimanu Road, Toganivalu Road, Reservoir Road and the whole of Laucala Bay.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the 67 arrests include a case of lockdown breach which allegedly occurred in Nausori last weekend.

Qiliho says a report received yesterday revealed that the accused had allegedly breached the Nausori lockdown restrictions after he swam from Toga to Nadali.

He says 48 people were arrested for social gathering breaches and 18 arrested for curfew breaches in the Eastern Division.

Qiliho says the Southern Division recorded 32 cases of social gathering breach, Northern Division recorded 10 and Western Division had 6 cases.

He says 13 curfew breaches were recorded in the Southern Division, 3 in the Western Division and 2 in the Eastern Division.

The Southern Division includes Samabula, Tamavua, Tacirua, Nabua and Nasinu and other areas outside of the Suva Central area.

Qiligo says the majority of the social gathering arrests continue to be made with regards to those found drinking yaqona and alcohol in groups.




Fijian Government will cover the costs for individuals kept in government designated quarantine facilities

By Iva Danford
Sunday 19/04/2020

Ministry of Health has confirmed that the Fijian Government will cover the costs for those individuals who will be kept at the government designated quarantine facilities upon their arrival into the country.

The Fijian government states that they have accommodated 355 individuals for quarantine at designated hotels since the 28th of March 2020 with 221 individuals currently under quarantine.

They say that anyone coming into the country through the Nadi International Airport is taken to designated hotels for their quarantine period straight from the airport under the strict supervision of the health officials and the Fijian Government continues to pay for the accommodation and meals of Fijians coming from abroad for their full 28 days of quarantine.

The Fijian government states that no family members, friends and relatives are allowed to meet with those who are under quarantine at these hotels.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health say this is to ensure that there is no spread of COVID-19, especially from those coming in from abroad who potentially could have been exposed to the virus.




Any assembly of individuals as defined in the Public Health Act is considered a gathering - Qiliho

By Iva Danford
Saturday 18/04/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has stressed that any assembly of individuals as defined in the Public Health Act is considered a gathering.

Qiliho says if you are intending to invite even one or two people over to your home or plan to meet others for a social gathering then you are breaching the COVID-19 restrictions.

He says he has earlier highlighted that people need to stop gambling with their lives and the lives of their loved ones, because when you selfishly leave your home to meet up with others over a tanoa of yaqona or a drinking party, you could be the one responsible for spreading the virus.

Qiliho adds that if people are still saying that they confused about the definition of illegal socializing outside of curfew hours, it is pure ignorance.

Qiliho highlighted this after Fijivillage got questions from some people that they are confused about socializing outside the curfew hours.

He says that it has been stressed by the Prime Minister and himself a number of times and for people to still say that they do not understand is ignorant.

The Prime Minister had earlier stressed that if you’re missing a friend or loved one, do the safe thing and call them on the phone.

Bainimarama says if you need to walk around or exercise you may do so, but keep a safe distance of two metres from other people while outside.




People are breaching COVID-19 restrictions because they can’t see the threat - Usamate

By Vijay Narayan, Iva Danford
Saturday 18/04/2020
Minister for Infrastructure Jone Usamate

Minister for Infrastructure Jone Usamate says people are breaching the COVID-19 restrictions because they can’t see the threat.

Usamate stressed this in an interview with our News Director, Vijay Narayan on our website fijivillage.

He says that people know what to do during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it can spread but some people still do not practise it.

Usamate says this was why they had teams from different divisions going out to conduct awareness programs on COVID-19.

He says the challenge they have now is getting people to change their behaviour towards the threat of COVID-19.

Usamate says this becomes an issue of changing values as to what is acceptable and what is not.




64 arrested last night for breaching of COVID-19 restrictions

By Iva Danford
Saturday 18/04/2020
[Photo:Fiji Police Force]

64 arrests were made last night with regards to breaches of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says while the number has decreased, social gathering is still an issue.

Qiliho says 48 arrests were made for social gathering breach and 16 for curfew breach.

He says the Southern Division recorded 22 cases of social breach, 13 cases in the Western Division, 9 in the Central Division and 4 in the Eastern Division.

Qiliho says 9 curfew breaches were recorded in the Southern Division, 3 in the Western Division while Central and Northern Divisions recorded two 2 cases each.




Qiliho stresses that all businesses in Suva can open from today except gyms, cinemas, pools and nightclubs as announced by the PM

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Friday 17/04/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has stressed that all businesses in Suva can open from this morning except gyms, cinemas, pools and nightclubs as announced by the Prime Minister.

Qiliho has clarified this and says he has spoken to all officers in the force this morning.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum reiterated that gyms, cinemas, pools and nightclubs will be closed.


Sayed-Khaiyum says they had noted that outlets such as banks and pharmacies that were operating during the lockdown were practicing social distancing.

The Attorney General adds that they expect that when some of the shops open today the same processes and practices will be followed.




Parents are to collect their children's learning resource packages from schools from May 14th

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 17/04/2020
Education Minister, Rosy Akbar

With schools expected to be closed until June 16th this year, Education Minister, Rosy Akbar is advising parents that it is their responsibility to pick up learning resource material packages for their children from their schools from May 14th.


Akbar says teachers are to report to school where possible from Monday 20th April to facilitate teaching materials for home-based educational activities for the students.

She says the ministry understands that these are not normal times and there are a number of factors such as damages to facilities by TC Harold and the travel restrictions that are in place. Akbar says where teachers cannot physically report to school, they are to liaise with the Heads of Schools and work from home.

Akbar says for now, parents are encouraged to continue accessing supplementary resources available on the Ministry of Education website, Google shared drive, FEMIS, facebook and the ongoing school radio programmes on Radio Fiji 1 and Radio Fiji 2.

The Education Minister says all English, vernacular and test subject project work that form the basis of internal assessments has now been removed from this academic year due to the movement restrictions.

Akbar says when schools resume for classes, internal examinations will be conducted for Year 1 to Year 8, literacy and numeracy examinations for Year 5 and 7, standard examinations for Years 9 and 11 and external examinations for Year 12 and 13.

She says these are extraordinary times and parental guidance, supervision and monitoring is paramount.

Akbar says students will be able to access the Walesi free to air educational channel from Monday 27th April, 2020. Details will be released at a later date.

She says children should return to school when we are COVID-19 free.




The Association of Banks in Fiji pledges $50,000 towards the Fijian Government COVID-19 Donor Fund

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 17/04/2020

The Association of Banks in Fiji has pledged $50,000 towards the Fijian Government COVID-19 Donor Fund to help Fijians keep fighting on.

Association Chairman, Rakesh Ram says in addition to a number of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic effects, they felt the need to provide further assistance towards the various communities affected and also post TC Harold.

He says it is also great to see that many Fijians are taking advantage of the packages offered by various banks to assist with the loans and mortgages.

Ram says as an essential service, they would like to assure customers that they will still remain operational during the lockdown although they encourage everyone to use the digital platforms as much as possible to ensure social distancing is maintained for the safety of both the customers and staff.

He says all the banks in Fiji - ANZ, Bank of Baroda, Bred Bank, Bank of South Pacific, HFC Bank and Westpac provided their support towards this noble cause.




Taxi drivers cannot carry 5 to 6 passengers in their car as that would breach the physical distancing directive

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 17/04/2020

Taxi drivers cannot be carrying 5 to 6 passengers in their car as that would be a breach of the physical distancing directive under the Public Health Act.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho has made this clear after some taxi drivers raised the question on why Police officers are warning them that they would be fined for carrying more than 2 passengers.

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Traffic seen in Suva today, after the lockdown was lifted.




University of Fiji hoping to start face to face classes on the 28th of this month based on govt advisory

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 17/04/2020
University of Fiji Lautoka campus

The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Fiji, Kamlesh Arya says they are hoping to start face to face classes on the 28th of this month but this will be subject to government advisory.

Arya says all their staff are currently on leave and expected to resume work on the 27th of this month.

He says if they are unable to resume face to face classes later this month, then they will have to start classes through online arrangement.




Suva lockdown to be lifted at 5am tomorrow while schools remain closed until the 15th of June

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 16/04/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that the Suva lockdown will be lifted at 5am tomorrow however schools will remain closed until the 15th of June, all the other public health restrictions will also remain like the nationwide curfew from 8pm to 5am, the 2 metres physical distancing between people remain and the restriction on social gatherings will also remain throughout Fiji.

Restrictions Remain

While declaring a state of natural disaster in Fiji in response to the coronavirus threat, Bainimarama stresses that even though the Suva lockdown is lifting tomorrow morning, every other life-saving directive in place will remain in place.

He says nightclubs, gyms, cinemas and pools stay closed.

Bainimarama says public gatherings are not permitted.

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirms that other workplaces that are not nightclubs, gyms, cinemas and pools can recommence operations.

Bainimarama stresses that physical distancing of two metres from all others should be maintained at all times. He states the end of the lockdown is not cause for celebration, it is not a reason to have large grog sessions or drinking parties.

He also says that it is not a justification to stay out past 8pm and it is not an excuse to leave your homes for no good reason.

Bainimarama also says that the state of natural disaster means that they need to bring every resource in government to bear to take on the crises of contagion and climate change.

Schools to remain closed until June 15th – PM Teachers to report to school wherever they can from Monday - Akbar

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Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that schools will not open until the 15th of June.

Bainimarama says this extension recognises that COVID-19 will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and we must plan accordingly.

He says the date schools reopen is subject to change based on the situation on the ground at the time.

Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar says classes are expected to begin on the 16th of June however they will only bring back students to school when they are totally sure that we are COVID-19 free.

Akbar confirms that teachers are to report to school, wherever possible from Monday 20th April to facilitate teaching materials for home based teaching activity.

She says in cases where teachers cannot physically report to school, they are to liaise with their heads of schools and work from home.

Akbar has also confirmed that all English, vernacular and test subject project work that form the basis of internal assessment has now been removed from this academic year due to the movement restrictions.

She says that when schools resume for classes, internal assessments will be conducted from Year 1 to Year 8, literacy and numeracy exams for Year 5 and 7 and standard exams for Year 9 and 11 and external exams for year 12 and 13.

Akbar has also confirmed that students will be able to access the Walesi free to air educational channel from the 27th of April and they will be releasing further details on this later. The radio programmes will continue on Radio Fiji 2.

More than 230,000 screenings in the Greater Suva Area expected

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Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says around 180,000 Fijians in the Suva Confined Area have been screened by the mobile teams and at fever clinics, well beyond the target of 150,000, and an impressive two-thirds of the total population of the largest urban hub.

Bainimarama says today, the total will likely surpass 230,000, meaning that when combined with previous screenings in Lautoka, over 280,000 Fijians have been screened.

He says this represents the most ambitious public health screening campaign in Fijian history.

The Prime Minister says that success is shared by our healthcare heroes, our disciplined forces and the thousands of Fijians who stepped up and got themselves screened.

Bainimarama says they have also successfully identified and quarantined all of the close contacts of the Suva COVID-19 cases – and these Fijians will remain in quarantine for 28 days.

He says over the months to come, the government will expand large-scale screening to Nadi, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki, Labasa, Savusavu, Sigatoka and Korovou. The Prime Minister says the progress of their screening and contact tracing has kept them on track to lift the lockdown of the Suva confined area by 5am tomorrow.

17th COVID-19 patient is a 21 year old Vanua Levu man who travelled back from India with the 54 year old Soasoa man

Quarantine Period now extended to 28 days - PM

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The Prime Minister has today confirmed that the quarantine period for COVID-19 patient contacts and the people returning from overseas will now be 28 days.

Voreqe Bainimarama says this follows the confirmation of the 17th case of COVID-19 in Fiji who is a relative and travelling companion of the 54 year old Soasoa man. They both travelled together from India to Singapore and on to Fiji. Bainimarama says since the 21 year old man’s return to Fiji, he has not shown a single symptom of the virus. Upon returning to the country from overseas, this man was in self-quarantine for two full weeks, up until the 5th of April.

He says free of any symptoms throughout the virus’s known two-week incubation period, by all appearances, he was in the clear. The Prime Minister says from this week, they have widened the testing to all close contacts of all confirmed cases, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms. He says that is how they identified, tested and confirmed this man as the 17th case. The 21 year old man was immediately entered into isolation upon testing positive today where he is in stable condition. His close contacts have been entered into separate isolation facilities. The contact tracing stemming from this latest case has revealed the need for additional lockdowns on Vanua Levu.

The Vunicagi Settlement between Nabouwalu and Labasa will be locked down for the next 28 days. The settlement lies along a short stretch of vital highway which vehicles will still be allowed to traverse under 24/7 police monitoring, as no alternate routes into Labasa exist. However, no passengers will be allowed to disembark or embark: No one in and no one out. Bainimarama says the lockdown of the Soasoa settlement will be extended by another 14 days, in line with the 28-day quarantine policy. Given the continued risk of transmission on Vanua Levu, the ban on inter-island travel by air and sea will remain in effect.

Nabua Settlement still on lockdown

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Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the Nabua Muslim League Settlement, the site of two of the coronavirus cases, is still a high-risk region.

Bainimarama says given how long this virus has proven it can stay dormant, the Nabua settlement will remain locked down for an additional 14 days. In the West, Fijians who have returned from overseas remain under closely supervised quarantine.

Bainimarama says one flight is arriving tomorrow from Auckland and every passenger aboard will head straight to one of the government facilities.





COVID-19: 1 new case confirmed by PM taking the total to 17, Suva lockdown to be lifted at 5am tomorrow

By fijivillage
Thursday 16/04/2020
  • A new case has been confirmed by the PM
  • The total cases now goes up to 17
  • State of natural disaster declared in response to COVID-19
  • First 16 patients in stable condition
  • One new case of COVID 19
  • 21-year-old man in Vanua Levu
  • Traveling companion of Soasoa man
  • Man was in self-quarantine for full two weeks
  • Immediately taken into isolation after testing positive
  • Contacts of the man in isolation also
  • Quarantine period now extended to 28 days
  • Vunicagi settlement in Vanua Levu to be under lockdown for 28 days
  • Lockdown for Soasoa will be extended for next 14 days
  • 180,000 people in Suva area have been screened
  • 280,000 in total have been screened in Fiji
  • Suva lockdown to be lifted by 5am tomorrow
  • Nabua settlement is still a high-risk region and will be under lockdown
  • Nationwide curfew remains in place
  • Public gatherings are not permitted
  • One flight will arrive from Auckland tomorrow
  • Schools will not open until the 15th of June
  • Opening dates of schools will be subject to change


Businesses can start operations from tomorrow except gyms, cinemas, pools and nightclubs - AG

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 16/04/2020
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says all businesses can start operations from tomorrow except gyms, cinemas, pools and nightclubs as announced by the Prime Minister.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they had noted that outlets such as banks and pharmacies that were operating during the lockdown were practising social distancing.

The Attorney General further adds that they expect that when some of the shops open tomorrow, they will also follow the same processes and practices.




Free Bird Institute Limited to charter a flight from Nadi to Narita, Japan later this month

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 16/04/2020
A Fiji Airways aircraft [image: Fiji Airways]

Free Bird Institute Limited in consultation with the Japanese Embassy in Fiji as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan has signed a contract with Fiji Airways to charter a flight from Nadi to Narita, Japan later this month.

This flight will allow the repatriation of their students who were in Lautoka during the lockdown period and who were unable to make it to their flight that departed Nadi on 3rd April 2020.

Chief Operating Officer, Mereseini Baleilevuka says over 100 of their students who were in the lockdown areas of Lautoka were scheduled to depart on 3rd April 2020.

She says however, as a result of the lockdown, they were unable to make it to their flight adding their teams have been working around the clock to ensure that their well-being is being looked after.

Baleilevuka says they have since moved most of these students to their Nadi campus for convenience and she has extended her sincere gratitude to their employees and homestay families who have been supporting their students during these difficult times.

This flight will also enable citizens and residents of other countries to return to their home countries via Narita.

More details of the flight will be released once all the necessary approvals have been obtained.




Nabua Settlement still on lockdown

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 16/04/2020
Nabua lockdown area

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says the Nabua Muslim League Settlement, the site of two of the coronavirus cases, is still a high-risk region.

Bainimarama says given how long this v