Fijivillage
31 March, 2020, 10:53 pm
Central - 25°C Clouds
Fijivillage
NEWS SPORTS
31 March, 2020, 10:53 pm Central - 25°C Clouds

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.



Woman who is alleged to have violated 14-day self-isolation period will be questioned by police next week

By Shanil Singh
Monday 30/03/2020

A woman in her 60s who is alleged to have left her home where she was ordered to self-isolate for a period of 14 days will be taken in for questioning by Police after she undergoes the 14-day mandatory isolation period next Monday.

Police say the suspect who resides in Sukanaivalu Road in Nabua, will be taken in for questioning for an alleged case of Disobedience of Lawful Order.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says they were notified when the suspect turned up to the Registrar of Marriage Office in Suva on Saturday requesting for an urgent procedure of marriage.

Qiliho says it was then discovered that she had just returned from the USA on the 23rd of this month as per her travel itinerary and was supposed to be under self-isolation.

Qiliho says anyone found breaching the self-isolation period as directed by the Ministry of Health are warned that they will be placed back in isolation and once cleared will be taken straight into custody, charged and produced in Court if they fail to adhere.




Nausori man charged for allegedly spreading false information of COVID-19 on social media

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 30/03/2020

A 53-year-old self-employed man from Nausori will appear in the Suva Magistrates Court today for allegedly spreading false information on social media in relation to COVID-19.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the man allegedly uploaded a malicious and misleading post on his Facebook account about COVID-19 that caused anxiety and alarm.

He has been charged with one count of a malicious act.




Farmer who allegedly breached the Lautoka lockdown to see girlfriend to appear in court

By Shanil Singh
Monday 30/03/2020

The 23-year old farmer who is alleged to have breached the Lautoka lockdown by walking for about 30km to Ba to see his girlfriend has been charged and will appear in the Rakiraki Magistrates Court today.

The man has been charged with one count of Disobedience of Lawful Order.

Police say that it is alleged that the suspect had trekked on foot through the forest from Lautoka, following the logging track and descended at Namosau, Ba.

They say the matter was reported by the Turaga ni Koro of Vatukacevaceva Village, Ra.




Municipal markets to now open from 8am to 7pm to ensure vendors are able to comply with the curfew

By Iva Danford
Sunday 29/03/2020
Minister for Local Government Premila Kumar

Municipal markets will now be open from 8am to 7pm to ensure vendors are able to comply with the nationwide curfew.

This has been highlighted by the Minister for Local Government Premila Kumar who says that they have reviewed the operating hours of all markets around the country and have made the decision after consulting the special administrators from all municipal councils.

Kumar says as a government they had to prepare the private sector, so that they are not caught in this curfew.

Kumar says they had a lengthy discussion with the private sector to understand the nature of their business and also to understand why they need people to work after hours.

She says they came to know that there are a number of businesses such as call centres, service stations, security services, the manufacturing sector, pharmacies and taxis that operate 24/7.

Kumar says after having this discussion with the private sector they assured them that the curfew will have no impact on their businesses, except that they have to ensure that they follow the protocol, which is that when the officers leave for work after 10pm, they must carry a photo ID, and they should also carry a letter. That letter will be given to the Police Commissioner, as well, so that the police officers at the checkpoints will do their work in a proper manner.

Kumar says to avoid overcrowding at the market they made the decision to decentralize the markets and will now put up tents with the vendors in different areas in the neighborhoods, as well as in the cities and towns.

She says they can put up a tent in a park, where they can sell their vegetables and that will reduce overcrowding.

Kumar says she will be able to come up with the areas exactly where these tents would be put up, as well as in which cities and towns at a later date.

She says definitely within a couple of days, she should be able to come up with that plan.




Fiji still has five positive cases and they are all in stable condition - Sahukhan

By Violet Matakibau
Sunday 29/03/2020
The Head of Health Protection, Dr. Aalisha Sahukhan

The Head of Health Protection, Dr. Aalisha Sahukhan says they have conducted over 330 tests for COVID-19 at Fiji Centres for Disease Control and there have been no new cases.

Dr. Sahukhan says Fiji still has five positive cases and they are all in stable condition.

The positive cases are the two imported cases from overseas, and the two contacts of the first case.

Dr. Sahukhan says there are over 200 case countries around the world that have reported cases of COVID-19 which is almost every single country in the world.

She says some of the wealthiest nations have taken unprecedented measures essentially shutting down their societies.

Doctor Sahukhan says public health personnel are busy finding, isolating and contact tracing every case that they find on a daily basis and are glad to have the assistance of the Police and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

The Head of Health Protection is calling on the public to listen to the advisories given by the Health Ministry and the Government as the healthcare system alone cannot stop this disease.

Dr. Sahukhan says people need to continue to wash their hands with soap and water as much as possible, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer and keep their distance from others when they are outside for at least 2 metres.

She says if you have been told to self-quarantine for 14 days, please stay home and don't have visitors.

Dr. Sahukhan advises that all these practices will make a difference.



101 permanent checkpoints to be set up around the country as the nationwide curfew comes into effect - Qiliho

By Iva Danford
Sunday 29/03/2020
Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says they will set up 101 permanent checkpoints around the country as the nationwide curfew comes into effect tomorrow.

Qiliho says they are working with the Republic of Fiji Navy on monitoring the inter Island movement and also the curfew in those areas will be commanded from the Navy headquarters.

He says the curfew is not about restricting movement of workers, it's about restricting the non-essential movement.

Qilliho says the curfew goes for villages and settlements as well as there will be no functions that should be entertained in those settlements and villages.

He says in addition to the curfew on land they also have RFMF units that are already out and about with contact tracing where they are also visiting those in isolation or in quarantine.

The Police Commissioner stresses that the curfew is Fiji wide.

All staff who are required to work during curfew hours should carry company Photo ID cards, and in the absence of company ID, the staff will need to carry a valid National photo ID, such as Voter ID, Joint ID or Driver’s License.

They are also required to provide a company letter to staff that they are required to work during that specific time and a National Contact Centre telephone contact to verify the claims of the staff. Contracted service providers which includes taxi or bus operators, or port service providers such as tug operators or line port service providers are required to provide a letter from the contracting company stating that they are service providers for the company and are required to work during the curfew period.

Meanwhile, businesses are required to provide to the Ministry of Industry and Trade the list of employees who would work in the curfew period, scanned copies of their company photo ID or the relevant ID that will be used during this period, list of company vehicle registration numbers, private vehicle registration numbers and contracted taxis or buses registration numbers.

As announced by the Prime Minister, in order to minimise non-essential movement of Fijians, in Fiji’s bid to contain COVID-19, there will be a nation-wide curfew in place from tomorrow and this curfew will apply daily from 10pm to 5am.




COVID-19: Over 330 tests done with no new cases confirmed - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Sunday 29/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says over 330 tests for COVID-19 have been done and there have been no new cases.

Bainimarama says these tests include the 300 passengers who flew on the same flights as the first patient.

He says they have been successful in identifying and isolating or quarantining the passengers and their closest contacts.

Bainimarama says all of those passengers who are in Fiji have been directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.

He says the Health Ministry is monitoring people who are on self-isolation.

The Prime Minister says we cannot and will not rest.

He says that our lockdown measures and travel restrictions have not been easy for everyone, but it is clear these were the right measures taken at the right time to lock down this virus.

Bainimarama says through the intensive work of contact tracing teams, doctors, nurses, health inspectors, police officers, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel, and the support staff from across government, they have done extremely well surveilling for testing and containing new cases.

He says every person in Fiji should act and think the next person is a carrier.

Bainimarama says this is a crisis, lives are on the line and the economy is on the line.

He has stressed that people need to keep their distance and the elderly and children have to be at home.

The law now states that people breaching the health regulations can face 5 years imprisonment and $10,000 fine.

The Prime Minister stresses that people have to follow the directions to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Bainimarama says this is a war we cannot afford to lose.

He is calling on people who feel sick to visit the fever clinic or the doctor.

Bainimarama also stresses that people should not breach self-quarantine directives.

Lautoka Lockdown to be reviewed in the next 5 days.

The Prime Minister also says the decision on whether to lift the lockdown in Lautoka will be made in the next 5 days.

Bainimarama says they will either lift restrictions or have to extend them.

He says if even one fails to follow the rules and this virus spreads within Lautoka, all of you will stay on lockdown even longer.

Bainimarama says those currently in the Lautoka confined zone, need to ensure the rules are followed and encourage each other in their community, and everyone they see to do the same.

He says that they need to pull up their socks, keep to the rules and get their city through this together.

Bainimarama says this will depend on how people follow the directions.

Nationwide Curfew

The Prime Minister has also revealed that 100 permanent checkpoints will be set up around the country from tonight when the nationwide curfew comes into effect from 10pm to 5am.

Bainimarama says there should be no wandering the streets unless you are working or have an emergency. People not following this will face serious consequences.

The Prime Minister also confirms that every existing work permit will be extended for 3 months due to current restrictions.

He says the Permanent Secretary for Immigration will provide further details.

Bainimarama also confirms that inter islands flights will cease to the outer islands from 6pm today except for freight flights.

From tomorrow a call centre for COVID-19 will be set up for anything in relation to the virus.

For now you can call the following Health Ministry numbers :

In the Central Division call 2219905;

In the Eastern Division call 2219906;

In the Western Division call 2219907; and

In the Northern, Division call 2219908



Isolation facility for children and mothers who need to deliver set up in Makoi

By Iva Danford, Vijay Narayan
Sunday 29/03/2020
The isolation facility in Makoi

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that the Ministry of Health has set up an isolation facility in Makoi for children, and mothers who need to deliver, and are tested positive of COVID-19.

Fijivillage has received confirmation that an Intensive Care Unit has also been set up in Makoi with new ventilators.

Meanwhile the RFMF Engineers together with the Ministry of Health are getting the new Ba Hospital prepared in case Fiji has more positive cases.

Engineers from RFMF are also building a new incinerator at the Navua Hospital.

RFMF officers also worked with health officials to ensure that passengers of Fiji Airways fights last week were properly self-isolated.

They also have personnel helping health officials at the Sub Divisional Health Office in Suva.




Fiji Link to suspend domestic operations to all outer-islands by 6pm today

By Vijay Narayan
Sunday 29/03/2020

Fiji Link will suspend domestic operations to all outer-islands by 6pm today in line with Government directives.

The final services between Suva-Labasa and Nadi-Labasa will operate today.

From tomorrow, the only Fiji Link flights will be between Nadi and Suva, operating at a reduced frequency.

Suspended services include flights from the Nadi and Suva hubs to Labasa, Taveuni, Savusavu, Kadavu, Vanuabalavu, Lakeba, Cicia, Koro, Rotuma.

Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Group Managing Director and CEO says the majority of their customers understand that these measures are necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19.

He says they will gladly adhere to Government directives, and stand ready to assist if charter flights are required for the freight of essential supplies to Vanua Levu and outer islands.

Viljoen says customers holding bookings for flights which are now suspended can be rest assured that their bookings are safe.

They look forward to welcoming the passengers onboard when they resume operations.

Fiji Link will announce resumption of domestic services after approvals from authorities.




25-year-old man charged and will front court for allegedly breaching the Lautoka lockdown conditions

By Violet Matakibau
Sunday 29/03/2020
Police guarding the Lautoka border. [image: Fiji Police}

A 25-year-old man who is alleged to have breached the Lautoka lockdown conditions on Friday has been charged and will be produced at the Nasinu Magistrates Court tomorrow.

He was arrested in Caubati.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the continuous breaches of the restrictions are a serious concern because of the threats and risks involved and needs to stop.

He says the country is dealing with an invisible threat that can only be effectively destroyed if everyone works together to stop its spread by adhering to the movement restrictions placed on the Lautoka area as well as complying with the Ministry of Health and Service’s advice with regards to self-isolation.

He adds they have processing teams all over the five Divisions who will handle these cases as they are received and they acknowledge the support of members of the public who have been forthcoming with information about the suspected breaches in their communities.




38-year-old man to be question for breaching his 14-day mandatory isolation period

By Violet Matakibau
Sunday 29/03/2020

A 38-year-old man who allegedly breached his 14-day mandatory isolation period after returning from New Zealand will be questioned by police once cleared by medical authorities.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the man was directed to self-isolate after returning to Fiji and allegedly left his place of isolation in Newtown Settlement in Nasinu earlier this week.

Qiliho says a team conducting checks on those directed to self-isolate went to his home to inquire about his status and found him missing and they were informed that he had gone shopping.

He is back into isolation.



Protocols need to be adhered by people working during nationwide curfew hours

By Iva Danford
Sunday 29/03/2020

People can still go to work during the nationwide curfew which comes into effect tomorrow but will need to adhere to certain protocols and carry Company Photo ID’s.

This clarification came after the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum together with the Minister for Industry and Trade, Premila Kumar met with industries to develop clear protocols to manage movement of staff during the nation-wide curfew period.

It was noted in the meeting that industries and certain service providers who require staff to do shift work or may need staff to address emergency calls during the nationwide curfew can still do so.

All industry players have been advised by the Attorney General that they will need to ensure all staff who are required to work during curfew hours should carry company Photo ID cards, and in the absence of company ID, the staff will need to carry a valid National photo ID, such as Voter ID, Joint ID or Driver’s License.

They are also required to provide a company letter to staff that they are required to work during that specific time and a National Contact Centre telephone contact to verify the claims of the staff. Contracted service providers which includes taxi or bus operators, or port service providers such as tug operators or line port service providers are required to provide a letter from the contracting company stating that they are service providers for the company and are required to work during the curfew period.

Meanwhile, businesses are required to provide to the Ministry of Industry and Trade the list of employees who would work in the curfew period, scanned copies of their company photo ID or the relevant ID that will be used during this period, list of company vehicle registration numbers, private vehicle registration numbers and contracted taxis or buses registration numbers.

As announced by the Prime Minister, in order to minimise non-essential movement of Fijians, in Fiji’s bid to contain COVID-19, there will be a nation-wide curfew in place from tomorrow and this curfew will apply daily from 10pm to 5am.

The Attorney General has assured the private sector that arrangements will be made to ensure there are minimum disruptions to businesses during the curfew period.




Passenger carriage or movement on inter-island ships throughout Fiji suspended from tomorrow till further notice

By Violet Matakibau
Saturday 28/03/2020
Passengers embarking an inter-island ship in Fiji. [image: file]

There will be no passenger carriage or movement on inter-island ships throughout Fiji from tomorrow till further notice.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport in consultation with the Ministry of Health has put restrictions in place to all inter-island shipping movements.

These include restriction of movement for all small craft and yachts while freight cargo services will continue during this time.





300 Fijians tested for COVID-19 with only 5 confirmed cases

By Iva Danford
Saturday 28/03/2020
Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

300 Fijians have been tested for COVID19 and only 5 are confirmed cases.

This has been confirmed by the Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete who says that there are no new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

Waqainabete has earlier said that all tests done recently were negative.

Meanwhile new ventilators and ICU beds have arrived in the country.




21 Fijians arrive at the Nadi Airport and will be under a strict 14-day quarantine period

By Iva Danford
Saturday 28/03/2020
A Virgin Airways plane taking off. [image: Virgin Australia]

A Virgin Airways flight from Brisbane, Australia with 21 Fijian citizens and cargo containing Personal Protective Equipment and other equipment has arrived at the Nadi International Airport.

Ministry of Health say that any passengers showing symptoms of COVID-19 on arrival will be transferred to an isolation facility.

The Ministry with relevant government agencies will place all passengers without symptoms from this flight under a strict 14-day quarantine period at designated sites near the Nadi International Airport where they will be assessed and monitored daily by a medical team.

During their time in quarantine, the passengers will not be permitted to leave their rooms and meals will be delivered by room service. They will not receive any visitors.

The Ministry say their staff at the designated sites have received training on COVID-19 prevention and will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment. 

They say measures have been taken to ensure there will be minimal interaction between the passengers and site staff.

The same measures will be applied to passengers who are expected on a flight from New Zealand tomorrow .

The Ministry of Health say they acknowledge the assistance by the Australian Government in providing personal protective equipment and equipment that will be used in the response to COVID-19. And these equipment will be distributed for use at health facilities throughout Fiji.




COVID-19: FNPF assistance will only be done through the employers of those who are directly affected

By Violet Matakibau
Saturday 28/03/2020
Assistance forms will be emailed to the Employers, from early next week, who will then liaise directly with their staff. [image: file]

The Fiji National Provident Fund assistance that will be provided to those that have been affected in the tourism sector, those impacted by the physical distancing restriction and members working in the lock-down areas will only be done through their employers.

This was highlighted by FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jioji Koroi who says that they will be working closely with Employers when FNPF rolls out the assistance program for members through existing digital platforms.

He says Fund is taking its cue from health advisories for physical distancing during this period and will be carrying out bulk of the assistance processes digitally.

Koroi says this is the most effective way to ensure members are able to access their funds, and at the same time adhering to health and safety regulations for COVID-19.

Koroi says the assistance forms will be emailed to the Employers, from early next week, who will then liaise directly with their staff.

Koroi says these are abnormal times and the Fund was grateful to government for partially funding this assistance, especially for those who do not have sufficient eligibility.

He says they are relying on the goodwill and accountability of the Employers during this period, to help them deliver the assistance to their staff who have been affected.

These forms need to be completed by the affected members with the Employer, who will then electronically submit the completed forms with the other requirements to the Fund.

Koroi says as mentioned during the Budget address, members in the priority areas can be assured that they will receive their funds and to exercise caution and patience as they await assistance.




32 fever clinics setup and fully operational in Fiji as rapid response to COVID-19 ramps up

By Shanil Singh
Saturday 28/03/2020
A fever clinic that has been set up at Valelevu Multipurpose Courts [image: Twitter/Dr. Waqanabete]

A total of 32 fever clinics have been setup and are fully operational around the country as Fiji ramps up its rapid response to COVID-19.

These clinics are operational from 8am to 4pm everyday and are based at strategic locations that can be conveniently accessed by the members of the public.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is encouraging people to visit these clinics should they have a fever or develop any symptoms of COVID-19, in an effort to stop the spread of this virus.

The Ministry also says that people will not need to make any appointments with the doctors and nurses in these clinics.

They say the establishment of fever clinics is an integral part of the government’s effort to contain the spread of the virus and to ensure that the vulnerable members of the public are not exposed to the virus in regular hospitals and health centres.

Most of the Clinics are open from 8am-4pm, 7 days a week, with the exception of the Punjas and Kamikamica Health Centres in Lautoka which are open from 8am-10am and the Valelevu Health Centre in Nasinu which will be open 24 hours.

The fever Clinics around the country are:

EASTERN DIVISION

1. Levuka Hospital

2. Lomaloma Health Centre

3. Lakeba (Old Nurses Quarters)

4. Vunisea

5. Rotuma Hospital

WESTERN DIVISION

1. Punjas Health Centre

2. Kamikamica Health Centre

3. Viseisei Health Centre

4. St. Thomas High School

5. Tavua Hospital

6. Ba Health Center

7. Balevuto Health Centre

8. Nailaga Health Centre

9. Ba Mission Hospital (Tent Outside)

10. Rakiraki Hospital (Car Park)

11. Nadi Hospital

12. Bukuya Health Centre

13. Namaka Health Centre

14. Sigatoka Hospital

NORTHERN DIVISION

1. Nasea Health Centre

2. Nutrition Training Centre

3. Savusavu (Old Public Health Building)

4. Waimaqera Health Centre (Outside)

5. Waiyevo Health Centre (Outside)

6. Nabouwalu Hospital

CENTRAL DIVISION

1. Lami (Tikaram Park)

2. Raiwaqa (Pentecostal Church)

3. Valelevu (Tennis Court)

4. Nakasi Health Centre (Car Park)

5. Nausori Health Centre (Quarters 2)

6. Wainibokasi (Car Park)

7. Navua (Tent Outside)

8. Vunidawa

9. Nakorosule

10. Korovou (Behind the bus stop at the junction to Hospital

If you have been to a COVID-19 affected country in the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing immediately contact one of the numbers listed below.

Central 2219905

Eastern 2219906

Western 2219907

Northern 2219908





A woman in her 60s to be questioned for alleged case of disobedience of lawful order

By Shanil Singh
Saturday 28/03/2020

A woman in her 60s will be taken in for questioning after she will undergo the 14-day mandatory isolation period for an alleged case of disobedience of lawful order.

The suspect who resides in Sukanaivalu Road in Nabua, was alleged to have left her home where she was ordered to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

Police Commisioner Sitiveni Qiliho says they were notified when the suspect turned up to the Registrar of Marriage Office in Suva yesterday requesting for an urgent procedure of marriage when it was discovered that she had just returned from the USA on the 23rd of March as per her travel itinerary and was supposed to be under self-isolation.

Qiliho says anyone found breaching the self-isolation period as directed by the Ministry of Health are warned that they will be placed back in isolation and once cleared will be taken straight into custody, charged and produced in Court if they fail to adhere.




21 Fijians arrive at the Nadi Airport and will be under a strict 14-day quarantine period

By Iva Danford
Saturday 28/03/2020
A Virgin Airways plane taking off. [image: Virgin Australia]

A Virgin Airways flight from Brisbane, Australia with 21 Fijian citizens and cargo containing Personal Protective Equipment and other equipment has arrived at the Nadi International Airport.

Ministry of Health say that any passengers showing symptoms of COVID-19 on arrival will be transferred to an isolation facility.

The Ministry with relevant government agencies will place all passengers without symptoms from this flight under a strict 14-day quarantine period at designated sites near the Nadi International Airport where they will be assessed and monitored daily by a medical team.

During their time in quarantine, the passengers will not be permitted to leave their rooms and meals will be delivered by room service. They will not receive any visitors.

The Ministry say their staff at the designated sites have received training on COVID-19 prevention and will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment. 

They say measures have been taken to ensure there will be minimal interaction between the passengers and site staff.

The same measures will be applied to passengers who are expected on a flight from New Zealand tomorrow .

The Ministry of Health say they acknowledge the assistance by the Australian Government in providing personal protective equipment and equipment that will be used in the response to COVID-19. And these equipment will be distributed for use at health facilities throughout Fiji.




No new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours - Waqainabete

By Iva Danford
Saturday 28/03/2020
Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that there are no new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

He says there are still 5 confirmed cases.

Waqainabete has earlier said that all tests done recently were negative.




Lynda Tabuya charged in relation to a social media post

By Iva Danford
Saturday 28/03/2020
SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya

SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya who was taken in for questioning by police for her post on social media in relation to COVID-19 has been charged.

Tabuya is charged with one count of Malicious Act and will be produced in the Suva Magistrates Court on Monday.

She was taken in by police on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Nadi based Doctor Isireli Biumaitotoya who is also known as Leli Darling has been released.

Dr Biumaitotoya was also questioned for the same offence.




First confirmed case of COVID-19 had allegedly gone out to party in San Francisco - Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020
Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has revealed that the 27-year-old flight attendant who is the first confirmed case of COVID-19, 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.

Doctor Waqainabete made the comments while responding to the Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka and others who are saying that the government brought COVID-19 to Fiji.

He says the flight attendant did not follow the policies of Fiji Airways and defied the instructions.

Doctor Waqainabete says the Health Ministry also has the health declaration cards at the airport and they should declare if they have a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing.

The budget is $40 million for 4 months. This is for Incident Control Management Team, Media and Communications, infection control, buy another 50 ventilators to add on to the current 58 ventilators, ICU facilities, isolation room facilities, infra-red thermometers, scanners, contact tracing, food feeding and rations, other drug needs and Fiji Centres For Disease Control costs to name a few.




Nationwide curfew from 10pm-5am from Monday - PM

By Iva Danford, Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 5am every night from Monday, March 30th.

Bainimarama says too many Fijians seem to think when the sun goes down, the rule on non non-essential travel and other measures stop.

He says this is for everywhere in Fiji and further announcements will be made soon.

Bainimarama stresses that there is far too much risk of socialising and unnecessary travel between 10pm to 5am.

He says if you are out during these hours unless it’s for work or another life-sustaining purpose, Police will direct you straight home.

The government will announce the full details of this curfew soon.

Stay with us for more details.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama says the Lautoka confined area is on total lockdown, cruise ships are banned, gatherings of 20 or more people are banned and the elderly and children should stay at home.

Bainimarama says while most of the Fijians are fast asleep the COVID-19 team at the Ministry of Health is starting their day working to spearhead the response and containment efforts.




Government will pay 21 days Sick Leave for people earning less than $30,000 if they test positive for COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government will pay 21 days Sick Leave for people earning less than $30,000 if they test positive with COVID-19.

A 300% tax deduction will also be allowed to employers for wages/ salary paid to employees who are self-quarantined and approved by Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




Relief for affected workers coming through FNPF or the government

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says from today, once the budget gets passed, Fijian workers in the hospitality sector who have lost their jobs or have reduced hours since 1st February 2020, can, for now, access an initial $1,000 from the FNPF if they have the funds in their account.

Sayed-Khaiyum says if they do not have that amount, the government will subsidise the difference.

All those employees affected by the nationwide physical distancing requirements, along with employees in the Lautoka confined area who have been placed on leave without pay or had their hours cut, will be able to access an initial $500 dollars from FNPF.

If they do not have enough funds the government will subsidise the amount.

Fijians in the informal sector who are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 will be paid a one-off sum of $1,000.

Furthermore, for those affected in the informal sector in the lockdown areas, the government will also be providing a one-off relief payment of $150 for all those who have a street trader or hawker license.

The Minister says all FNPF employees contributions will reduce from 8% to 5%.

This will be from 1st April to 31st December 2020.

This is expected to put $80 million in the pockets of employees.

Employers’ FNPF contributions will reduce from 10% to 5% from 1st April to 31st December.

Sayed-Khaiyum says over the next nine months, this will keep $130 million in their accounts.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




Close to 25,000 people have lost their jobs in the tourism sector and they need to be assisted urgently - AG

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has revealed in Parliament that close to 25,000 people have lost their jobs in the tourism sector and they need to be urgently assisted by government and access funds from their FNPF if they have enough funds.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the government is using the law to urgently assist the people who have lost their jobs.

He says the reality of the matter is that we have a dire situation on our hands.

Sayed-Khaiyum adds they do not want the dilly-dallying like the opposition is doing.

He revealed that the government will make available $60 million to those people who have lost their jobs already.

Sayed-Khaiyum says we need to take action now.

He adds that the Budget Book is available and they should debate it today.

The Minister for Economy says if the opposition feels 3 hours is not enough then they can debate it for 7 hours.

He says they are here to do a job and parliament is a workplace.

NFP MP Pio Tikoduadua had also opposed the motion for 1 day debate today saying his leader, Professor Biman Prasad has been saying that the economy is coming to a grinding halt. He asked where is the boom.

Tikoduadua says 3 hours of debate for the Supplementary Budget is not good enough.

Leader of the Government in the House, Inia Seruiratu says parliament can be debating all of next week but every day counts.

Seruiratu says Italy had 5 COVID-19 cases on February 23rd.

He says a month later they have 60,000 cases.

Seruiratu says we need to take immediate action.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




Senior Police officer charged for allegedly breaching the Lautoka lockdown restrictions

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 26/03/2020

A senior Police officer has been charged for allegedly breaching the Lautoka lockdown restrictions.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho says the senior officer allegedly left Lautoka and returned to Sigatoka over the weekend.

He has been charged with one count of disobedience of lawful order and will appear in the Sigatoka Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Qiliho says the alleged selfish actions of the senior officer is deeply concerning and he has directed for the senior officer to be sent on interdiction/suspension and charged.

Qiliho says they cannot have police officers who are intent on serving their own needs while blatantly disregarding the welfare, safety and security of the people they serve, particularly in a time where police are relied upon heavily to keep everyone safe.

The Police Commissioner says the alleged actions of this officer, in no way reflects the tireless work put in by hundreds of other officers manning the checkpoints and those currently serving within the Lautoka restricted areas in these past few days.

Qiliho says those officers who are found breaching the restrictions are made to face the consequences of their actions in a court of law like everyone else.




RBF makes $60 million available for loan facility for businesess affected by COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020
Reserve Bank of Fiji

The Governor and Chairman of the Reserve Bank of Fiji Board Ariff Ali states that the RBF will expand its Natural Disaster and Rehabilitation Facility and raise it to $60 million to include businesses affected by epidemics or pandemics and be renamed the Disaster Rehabilitation and Containment Facility.

Ali says businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can access funds under this facility through their respective commercial banks, licenced credit institutions or the Fiji Development Bank at an interest rate of up to a maximum of 5.0 percent.

Ali says the magnitude of the domestic economic contraction will depend on the duration and the spread of the pandemic, which continues to unfold.

He says financial conditions remain accommodative with ample liquidity, stable interest rates and modest credit growth.

The Governor says the reduction in interest rates and various other reprieve measures announced by commercial banks’ to assist customers should support businesses during this downturn.

The Governor also states that that downside risks emanating from both the external and domestic fronts have increased in recent weeks and remain elevated. The RBF is monitoring these economic and financial developments closely and will align monetary policy and other measures accordingly.

Ali says the Fijian economy is currently in unchartered waters and headed for a recession this year.

He says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cessation in tourism activity and transmitted significant negative knock-on effects to the broader economy.

The RBF says while precautionary and containment measures adopted by the authorities and the general population will drastically affect consumption spending and government revenue, they are appropriate and crucial to avoid longer-term social and economic damage.

On the revenue front, the stimulus expected to be announced by the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the supplementary budget should assist in the recovery of the economy.

He says for now, the financial system is sound and the RBF’s twin monetary policy objectives of low inflation and adequate foreign reserves remain intact.

Annual inflation was registered at a historic low of -3.0 percent in February while foreign reserves were around $2.228 billion as at today, sufficient to cover 5.7 months of retained imports of goods and services.




No new cases of COVID-19 - Waqainabete

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 26/03/2020
Health Minister Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that there are no new cases of COVID-19.

He says there are 5 confirmed cases.

The Minister has also confirmed that all tests done yesterday were negative.




3 women who were charged with one count each of Malicious Act appear in court today

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Three women who were charged with one count each of Malicious Act appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court today.

36-year-old Titilia Camaibau, 53-year-old Marica Bole and 32-year old Sharoon Devi Kumar allegedly posted false information on social media in relation to the COVID-19 situation which created panic and fear among the general public.

The court has ordered Camaibau to undergo psychiatric evaluation at the St Giles Hospital and her case will be called again on the 2nd of April.

Devi has been remanded in custody for the next 7 days and her case will be called again on the 2nd of April.

Bole has been bailed and ordered to report to the Nasinu Police Station every first day of the month and her case will be called again on the 15th of June.




Lynda Tabuya taken in for questioning in relation to social media post

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 26/03/2020

SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya is currently being questioned by Police.

This is in relation to a online post about COVID-19.

This has been confirmed by the Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

Stay with us for developments.




COVID-19: Akbar pleads for all teachers to act as gatekeepers for their communities

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020
Education Minister Rosy Akbar

Education Minister, Rosy Akbar is strongly pleading with all teachers to act as gatekeepers of their communities and help share information on the preventative actions our children and members of the community can undertake at this point in time.

Akbar has told teachers not to limit their teachings to the classrooms, it is time for them to reach beyond the traditional boundaries and ensure that our homes, society and country are well aware of the implications of COVID-19.

The Minister for Education says they cannot conduct face to face awareness programmes, strictly no gatherings and instead can make use of other means such as electronic platforms to disseminate information that can help save a life.

The Ministry has emailed an information package titled “COVID-19 Information for Communities - Protecting Yourself and Your Family” to individual teacher email addresses to bring about more awareness without compromising their health and safety.

Teachers that have viber groups, social networking chat groups with the parents, are encouraged to use it to create awareness and help rigorously impart the message.

She says we all need to act responsibility and ensure that our nation remains safe.

Akbar calls out to all teachers, reminding them of their civic duty.

She says the nation relies on teachers to take the lead role disseminating preventative information on COVID-19.

Parents please keep your children engaged in activities and restrict outside movements.




COVID-19: Taxi drivers call on proprietors to lower contractual income demand

By Shanil Singh
Thursday 26/03/2020
Taxi's lined up and waiting for passengers outside a supermarket in Suva

A number of taxi drivers are calling on their taxi proprietors to lower their contractual income demand due to a reduction in their taxi income after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Fiji last week.

A taxi driver from Suva City has told Fijivillage that he has to give $350 to the taxi owner every week which is about $60 a day.

He says this is proving difficult for him in these trying times since paying for fuel alone takes about $40 a day.

The taxi driver says he had discussions with his taxi owner however they have not been able to reach an agreement.

He says on a normal day he was able to make about $50 from 6am to 9am but was only able to make $8 today.

Another driver, has told us they will have no option but to park their taxis if they can’t reach an agreement with their taxi owners.

Meanwhile, Fiji Taxi Association General Secretary, Ashwin Lal says the contract is between the operators and the drivers and the operators should consider the ongoing crisis.




Nadi based Doctor taken in for questioning in regards to social media posts linked to COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 26/03/2020

Nadi based Doctor Isireli Biumaitotoya who is also known as Leli Darling has been taken in for questioning in regards to posts on social media on information linked to the COVID-19 situation.

This has been confirmed by Police Spokesperson, Ana Naisoro who says that the Police will not be releasing any more information at this stage.

Stay with us for more on this.




AG to present COVID-19 supplementary budget to parliament at 7:30pm today

By Naveel Krishant, Semi Turaga
Thursday 26/03/2020
Minister for Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Attorney General and the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will present a COVID-19 Supplementary Budget to parliament at 7.30 tonight.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they are introducing a COVID-19 Budget Response to offer relief to Fijian families, bolster businesses, protect workers, and fund life-saving containment efforts.

He says they haven’t a moment to spare.

Sayed-Khaiyum had earlier said that we cannot risk waiting until the close of the financial year to re-evaluate government spending priorities and take stock of government revenue streams.

Sayed-Khaiyum had said there are key expenditures that must be made to ensure the protection and continuation of the Fijian way of life, that includes our people’s health, their jobs, their businesses and their food security.

The Minister added that the economy remains under prudent and responsible management and the government will not hesitate to make tough decisions with a view towards long-term economic prospects.

He had said rest assured, the government will be leveraging every channel of growth at its disposal to keep the economy prosperous, keep Fijians employed, and keep businesses afloat, all while putting people’s well being first.

Stay with us for the latest from the supplementary budget announcement tonight on Fijivillage.




3 men arrested and charged for case of alleged aggravated robbery in Nadi

By Iva Danford
Thursday 26/03/2020

Three men have been arrested and charged for a case of alleged aggravated robbery in Naisoso, Nadi earlier this week.

Police say the three are alleged to have threatened a cashier of a shop and stole cash and cigarettes worth more than $500 on Monday.

The three were arrested by a team of officers from Namaka.

Police say they remain in custody as investigation0 continues regarding their alleged involvement in other burglary cases in the Namaka and Nadi areas.




3 people charged with allegedly spreading false information in relation to COVID-19 to be produced in court

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020

Three people will be produced in the Suva Magistrates Court today charged with allegedly spreading false information on social media in relation to the COVID-19 situation in Fiji.

The accused persons are a 36-year-old woman from Nadali, a 53-year-old woman from Muanikoso and a 32-year-old bank officer from Suva.

All have been charged with one count of Malicious Act.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says all three are alleged to have posted false information on social media in relation to the COVID-19 situation which created panic and fear among the general public.




Police Western Division Headquarters on lockdown after staff member shows COVID-19 symptoms

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 26/03/2020

The Police Western Division Headquarters is on a lockdown after a senior female police officer who returned from overseas has shown symptoms for COVID-19.

The woman had undergone the mandatory 14 day isolation period and was given the clearance to resume work.

She later displayed symptoms of COVID-19 and has been isolated in a different location.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says they were directed by medical authorities in Lautoka and are adhering like any other responsible Fijian until cleared to isolate their Police officers and civilian staff based at the Western Division Headquarters.

Qiliho has assured that they continue to operate the functions of the Western Division Headquarters from within the confines of the building.

Among those in the lockdown is the Divisional Police Commander West SSP Surend Sami.




If you’re told to quarantine, do it. Do it, or we’ll make you do it – Bainimarama

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Police check point outside the lockdown area of Lautoka

The Prime Minister says if the government tells you to self-quarantine, do it or the government will make you do it.

Voreqe Bainimarama says if you have been directed to self-quarantine and you’re hearing this message, ask yourself: Where would you rather be? Quarantined in the comfort of your home for 14 days, or in prison for violating the law?

He says police are actively investigating reports that 36 Fiji Airways flight attendants have blatantly violated their self-quarantine, sharing grog and interacting with their friends and caregivers from outside the quarantine area.

Bainimarama has a message to those people “To those not following our instructions, I have to ask: Is this a joke to you? What in God’s name are you thinking? While Fijians in Lautoka are living under lockdown, while our health workers work day and night to test and treat patients, and while the elderly are restricted to their homes, these Fijians are spitting on all of the sacrifices their fellow Fijians are making to keep our country safe.”

Bainimarama stresses that self-quarantine isn’t a voluntary measure.

He says it is not simply a “nice thing to do”.

The Prime Minister says it is a compulsory, legally-mandated order, and these Fijians will be investigated.

Bainimarama has also made it clear that if necessary, they will be arrested, charged and punished accordingly.

The Prime Minister says in Fiji, being a flight attendant is a highly-competitive job, hundreds, if not thousands, of Fijians, strive for each position filled. He says it should be a position you hold with pride and one you don’t take for granted.

He says if irresponsible behaviour like this continues, Fiji Airways should not hesitate to clean house and replace these people with people who take their duty of care seriously.

Bainimarama says their behaviour in-flight and the protective measures that they take to ensure the safety of their cabin should be no different than they are on the ground when they are caring for their own community.

COVID-19: 5th case in Fiji confirmed by PM

A 31-year-old woman from Lautoka is the 5th confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says their contact tracing team confirms that the woman attended a Zumba class with the 27-year-old flight attendant who was the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji and while he was already displaying the symptoms.

Bainimarama says all members of that Zumba class were directed to self-quarantine the same day the first patient was diagnosed, the 19th of March.

They were each instructed to immediately alert the Health Ministry medical teams if they began developing symptoms.

Yesterday, four days into compulsory self-quarantine, the 31-year-old woman, began displaying symptoms.

During their Zumba class, she worked out in close proximity with the first patient and shared a hug.

When she later recognised her symptoms, she notified the ministry’s rapid response medical teams, who securely and hygienically transported her via ambulance to the isolation ward at Lautoka Hospital.

She was tested.

Bainimarama says the woman shares a household with nine others –– two of whom were also showing symptoms and have been isolated in Lautoka Hospital.

The other seven remain under strict quarantine in the home, which is under constant police surveillance.

Further contact tracing was needed as the 27-year-old Lautoka man did not give full story – PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that they had to do further contact tracing in relation to the first confirmed COVID-19 case as their investigations revealed that unfortunately, they were not given the full story.

Bainimarama says witnesses have told the Ministry of Health that the flight attendant had been showing symptoms, including coughing, days prior and that he failed to place himself in self-quarantine.

He says their contact tracing had to be extended further back to identify even more people he may have contacted and get them into quarantine as well. The Prime Minister says this is water under the bridge; none of us should waste time targeting or vilifying the first patient as we all have much more important work to focus on.

He confirms that most of the individuals they have had to contact have been placed in compulsory self-quarantine.

However, there are still six individuals, all in the Western Division, who have yet to come forward.

Nadi Airport to close from today while passenger travel to the outer islands will cease from Sunday March 29th

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says they are working overtime to avoid the nightmare scenario in countries like Italy.

Bainimarama says the government is quickly acquiring new Intensive Care beds and ventilators, and taking other measures that will be announced by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in tonight’s supplementary budget address at 7.30pm.

He says the fact is, if what happened in Italy happens in Fiji, our healthcare system would buckle.

Bainimarama says the grim reality is that in Fiji, the number of deaths for this many cases would likely be much, much higher.

He says Fiji is at war with the coronavirus.

Bainimarama says we cannot see our enemy but we must act as if the enemy is in our midst at all times.

He says you can join the fight by washing your hands with soap and water, practicing physical distancing, two metres distance is safest and following any and every directive given to you by authorities.

The Prime Minister says Fiji now has two cases imported from overseas.

From tomorrow, Nadi Airport will be officially shut down to all scheduled passenger travel.

There are currently three flights inbound to Fiji carrying Fijians returning home from overseas, these passengers will all be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon the arrival.

Bainimarama says they are seriously concerned about the virus ever reaching any of our outer island communities.

From this Sunday, the 29th of March, all passenger travel to the outer islands will cease.

Shipping lines for freight will continue with increased bulk but decreased frequency to ensure food and other essential goods are supplied across the islands.

The ban on gatherings of 20 or more people remains in effect.

If you have a death in the family, you can proceed with a burial, so long as you limit any gatherings to fewer than 20 people.


Fiji Airways boss says staff that allegedly disregard self-quarantine directives, have no place in National Airline

By Iva Danford
Thursday 26/03/2020
Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, Andre Viljoen [L]

The Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, Andre Viljoen says if found guilty after due process, the Fiji Airways staff that allegedly disregarded the self-quarantine directives of the Fijian Government, will have no place in the National Airline and this includes any breaches in the past two weeks and any in the future.

In an internal email to all staff last night, Viljoen says he is disappointed beyond measure and Police will continue with their investigations and they will give them every assistance required.

The 36 flight attendants who are on self-quarantine at a Nadi hotel were allegedly having grog sessions with people from outside almost every night and other people were also bringing over food, clothes and snacks to them.

Viljoen says Fiji Airways will return to the skies once this crisis is over but if some of its staff flaunt Government directives or internal Fiji Airways Safety rules, they will not return.

The CEO says that he shares the disappointment and embarrassment that most members of the Fiji Airways family are feeling today.

He says when the Lautoka Containment Zone was implemented, they accommodated staff who could not reach their homes in Lautoka at a hotel in Nadi.

Viljoen says he finds it hard to understand why anyone would behave so recklessly as everyone arriving from a layover was told by Health Officials on the need to self-quarantine either at their own homes or at the hotel.

He says these are not normal times and for a week, everyone has been made aware of the rules surrounding self-quarantine.

Viljoen says they have colleagues in Lautoka right now in the confinement zone and are unable to get to work.

He says that his focus in the past few weeks as this crisis grew, has been to ensure that Fiji Airways survives in a world where many other airlines will not, to save jobs when many are already letting people go.

Viljoen says they have selfless pilots and cabin crew who continue to operate recovery flights to return stranded citizens to their homes and bring Fijians back and airport personnel, and Fiji Link who continue to operate and serve customers.

He says all this good work, all these responsible actions by almost 1,500 members of the Fiji Airways family, are tarnished by the actions of just a handful.



Source: World Health Organization




The 36 flight attendants who are on self-quarantine are alleged to be still interacting with outsiders

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Police strictly guarding the check point in Lautoka [image: Fiji Police]

The 36 flight attendants who are on self-quarantine at a Nadi hotel are allegedly having grog sessions with people from outside almost every night and other people are also bringing over food, clothes and snacks to them.

We have received reports that these people from outside are also spending time with the self isolated flight attendants.

All this is happening despite repeated calls by the Prime Minister and the Health Ministry for people to self quarantine and not to have physical interaction with anyone.

The reports have come from nearby Nadi residents.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho has confirmed to Fijivillage that they working with the hotel on the CCTV footage and the people were warned by a senior Police Officer last night.

Qiliho says investigations are well underway and those who have disobeyed the Ministry of Health directives will be produced in court in the next few days.

Commissioner Qiliho says these people are totally being irresponsible and selfish in their actions when majority of the Fijian citizens are diligently adhering to the directives of the government.


Avoid all non-essential travel from today - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

All Fijians anywhere in the country are to avoid all non-essential travel from today after the 4th confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji – which is from Suva.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has made it clear in his statement to the nation today that no Fijian should travel from their home unless absolutely necessary.

He says people certainly should not be travelling around the country, across divisions or to different islands.

Bainimarama says children should stay at home at all times. He stresses that the elderly should stay at home at all times.

The Prime Minister says breadwinners who can go to work should go home straight after.

For everyone else, every move you make should be for your own health or the health of others.

Bainimarama says you can go out to get food, get medicine, take out money or access another essential service, it is also fine to exercise safely outdoors, so long as you maintain a safe distance from others.

But do not visit friends or family unless absolutely necessary.

The Prime Minister tells people do not host parties, do not needlessly linger and do not mingle with strangers.

Bainimarama says not in 100 years has the world seen a health crisis this severe. He says these are not normal times, and we cannot go about our day-to-day lives as if everything is normal.

He says that ignorance of the reality on the ground and the severity of this disease will get people killed.

The Prime Minister says if one person is exposed to this virus, and ignores the government’s restrictions, they could run around infecting everyone they come into contact with.

Bainimarama says if all those newly-infected people do the same, suddenly, we have a massive outbreak on our hands.

If the Ministry of Health has directed you to self-quarantine, do it.

They will be calling you and checking in on you in-person to make sure you are staying away from the public.

Self-quarantine for 14 days means you must stay in your home. During that time, you should avoid contact with other members of your household as much as humanly possible.


Stand 2 metres apart in public lines

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says people standing closely in the lines will stop from today and everyone has to keep a distance of 2 metres while standing in public lines.

Bainimarama says he has seen images going around of people standing in line and congregating in Suva and other urban areas.

He says if you need to get in line, space yourself out properly and keep 2 metres between you and everyone else.

Bainimarama says if you do not follow this, police officers will be enforcing these measures everywhere in the country.

He says their officers cannot be at all places all the time.

The Prime Minister also says that if you run a business in an industry where remote work is possible, tell your workers to start working from home.

He says we are food secure, there is no need to spend your savings in one frantic go at the supermarkets.

Bainimarama says the government has been informed that some people who ran to the stores to buy up goods in a panic are now wanting to return their groceries to the supermarkets and shops.

He also says the ban on gatherings of 20 people or more remains in full effect.

The Prime Minister says weddings, funerals, concerts and sporting events should all be cancelled.

He says when it comes to people’s health, no event is more important than people’s lives.




4th case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji - and this case is from Suva.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says early this morning, they confirmed the fourth case of COVID-19.

This patient is not related to our first three cases.

He is a 28-year-old Fijian man who arrived back into the country on Saturday from Australia.

Bainimarama says when the man left that Fiji Airways flight FJ916 on March 21st, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says he was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Prime Minister says it appears the man did everything right.

He says the man went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined.

On Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, the 28-year-old man developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough.

The man then contacted the Health Ministry and a rapid response team was immediately dispatched to his home, where he was examined and tested.

The patient then remained in self-quarantine until the test for COVID-19 returned positive.




Measures for those who travelled on Fiji Airways FJ1916

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says from tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.

Bainimarama also says there were 26 people on Fiji Airways flight FJ916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, March 21st, apart from the Suva man who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Bainimarama says Fiji Airways was practicing safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.

He says because of those safety measures, only a handful of others, two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin, risked exposure.

Bainimarama says regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.

The Prime Minister says while the risk of transmission from this case is low, the contact tracing teams are currently identifying every single person in Fiji who may have had direct contact with the patient, down to the taxi driver who drove him from Nadi Airport to Suva.

Fiji Airways has already announced they are cutting their international flights by 95%.

This passenger was on one of the final flights from Sydney to get Fijians back home.





Stand 2 metres apart in public lines

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says people standing closely in the lines will stop from today and everyone has to keep a distance of 2 metres while standing in public lines.

Bainimarama says he has seen images going around of people standing in line and congregating in Suva and other urban areas.

He says if you need to get in line, space yourself out properly and keep 2 metres between you and everyone else.

Bainimarama says if you do not follow this, police officers will be enforcing these measures everywhere in the country.

He says their officers cannot be at all places all the time.

The Prime Minister also says that if you run a business in an industry where remote work is possible, tell your workers to start working from home.

He says we are food secure, there is no need to spend your savings in one frantic go at the supermarkets.

Bainimarama says the government has been informed that some people who ran to the stores to buy up goods in a panic are now wanting to return their groceries to the supermarkets and shops.

He also says the ban on gatherings of 20 people or more remains in full effect.

The Prime Minister says weddings, funerals, concerts and sporting events should all be cancelled.

He says when it comes to people’s health, no event is more important than people’s lives.



4th case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji - and this case is from Suva.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says early this morning, they confirmed the fourth case of COVID-19.

This patient is not related to our first three cases.

He is a 28-year-old Fijian man who arrived back into the country on Saturday from Australia.

Bainimarama says when the man left that Fiji Airways flight FJ916 on March 21st, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says he was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Prime Minister says it appears the man did everything right.

He says the man went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined.

On Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, the 28-year-old man developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough.

The man then contacted the Health Ministry and a rapid response team was immediately dispatched to his home, where he was examined and tested.

The patient then remained in self-quarantine until the test for COVID-19 returned positive.



Measures for those who travelled on Fiji Airways FJ1916

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says from tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.

Bainimarama also says there were 26 people on Fiji Airways flight FJ916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, March 21st, apart from the Suva man who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Bainimarama says Fiji Airways was practicing safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.

He says because of those safety measures, only a handful of others, two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin, risked exposure.

Bainimarama says regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.

The Prime Minister says while the risk of transmission from this case is low, the contact tracing teams are currently identifying every single person in Fiji who may have had direct contact with the patient, down to the taxi driver who drove him from Nadi Airport to Suva.

Fiji Airways has already announced they are cutting their international flights by 95%.

This passenger was on one of the final flights from Sydney to get Fijians back home.






Police await findings from investigators to determine charges that will be laid on flight attendants

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police are waiting for findings from their investigators to determine the charges that will be laid on the flight attendants who are self-quarantined at a Nadi hotel and were allegedly having grog sessions with people from outside almost every night and other people are also bringing over food, clothes and snacks to them.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says if they find that some of them disobeyed the directive that has been given by the Ministry of Health, they will be charged.

Qiliho says these people are totally being irresponsible and selfish in their actions when the majority of the Fijian citizens are diligently adhering to the directives of the government.




Taxi driver who allegedly transported University of Fiji Vice Chancellor out of Lautoka remanded in custody

By Dhanjay Deo
Wednesday 25/03/2020
43 year old taxi driver, Rohit Rewal Krishna [Photo:Fiji Police Force]

43 year old taxi driver, Rohit Rewal Krishna who is alleged to have transported University of Fiji Vice Chancellor, Sushila Chang out of the restricted Lautoka Zone appeared in court today.

Krishna who is from Tuvu in Lautoka is charged with one count of disobedience of lawful order.

Krishna has been remanded in custody and the case will be called again on the 7th of next month.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho had stated that Krishna allegedly used his taxi to transport the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji in Lautoka to the Nadi Airport last Saturday through Kings Highway.

Police investigations are continuing as a fixer allegedly arranged this and a Personal Assistant was allegedly involved.




Nadi Airport to close from tomorrow while passenger travel to the outer islands will cease from Sunday March 29th

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Nadi Airport

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says they are working overtime to avoid the nightmare scenario in countries like Italy.

Bainimarama says the government is quickly acquiring new Intensive Care beds and ventilators, and taking other measures that will be announced by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in tomorrow’s supplementary budget address at 7.30pm.

He says the fact is, if what happened in Italy happens in Fiji, our healthcare system would buckle.

Bainimarama says the grim reality is that in Fiji, the number of deaths for this many cases would likely be much, much higher. He says Fiji is at war with the coronavirus.

Bainimarama says we cannot see our enemy but we must act as if the enemy is in our midst at all times.

He says you can join the fight by washing your hands with soap and water, practicing physical distancing, two metres distance is safest and following any and every directive given to you by authorities.

The Prime Minister says Fiji now has two cases imported from overseas.

From tomorrow, Nadi Airport will be officially shut down to all scheduled passenger travel. There are currently three flights inbound to Fiji carrying Fijians returning home from overseas, these passengers will all be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Bainimarama says they are seriously concerned about the virus ever reaching any of our outer island communities.

From this Sunday, the 29th of March, all passenger travel to the outer islands will cease. Shipping lines for freight will continue with increased bulk but decreased frequency to ensure food and other essential goods are supplied across the islands.

The ban on gatherings of 20 or more people remains in effect. If you have a death in the family, you can proceed with a burial, so long as you limit any gatherings to fewer than 20 people.




Further contact tracing was needed as the 27 year old Lautoka man did not give full story – PM

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 25/03/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that they had to do further contact tracing in relation to the first confirmed COVID-19 case as their investigations revealed that unfortunately, they were not given the full story.

Bainimarama says witnesses have told the Ministry of Health that the flight attendant had been showing symptoms, including coughing, days prior and that he failed to place himself in self-quarantine.

He says their contact tracing had to be extended further back to identify even more people he may have contacted and get them into quarantine as well. The Prime Minister says this is water under the bridge; none of us should waste time targeting or vilifying the first patient as we all have much more important work to focus on.

He confirms that most of the individuals they have had to contact have been placed in compulsory self-quarantine.

However, there are still six individuals, all in the Western Division, who have yet to come forward.




COVID-19: 5th case in Fiji confirmed by PM

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama. [Image: Fijian Government]

A 31-year-old woman from Lautoka is the 5th confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says their contact tracing team confirms that the woman attended a Zumba class with the 27-year-old flight attandant who was the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji and while he was already displaying the symptoms.

Bainimarama says all members of that Zumba class were directed to self-quarantine the same day the first patient was diagnosed, the 19th of March. They were each instructed to immediately alert the Health Ministry medical teams if they began developing symptoms. Yesterday, four days into compulsory self-quarantine, the 31-year-old woman, began displaying symptoms.

During their Zumba class, she worked out in close proximity with the first patient and shared a hug. When she later recognised her symptoms, she notified the ministry’s rapid response medical teams, who securely and hygienically transported her via ambulance to the isolation ward at Lautoka Hospital. She was tested.

Bainimarama says the woman shares a household with nine others –– two of whom were also showing symptoms and have been isolated in Lautoka Hospital.

The other seven remain under strict quarantine in the home, which is under constant police surveillance.

Further contact tracing was needed as the 27-year-old Lautoka man did not give full story – PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that they had to do further contact tracing in relation to the first confirmed COVID-19 case as their investigations revealed that unfortunately, they were not given the full story.

Bainimarama says witnesses have told the Ministry of Health that the flight attendant had been showing symptoms, including coughing, days prior and that he failed to place himself in self-quarantine.

He says their contact tracing had to be extended further back to identify even more people he may have contacted and get them into quarantine as well. The Prime Minister says this is water under the bridge; none of us should waste time targeting or vilifying the first patient as we all have much more important work to focus on.

He confirms that most of the individuals they have had to contact have been placed in compulsory self-quarantine.

However, there are still six individuals, all in the Western Division, who have yet to come forward.

If you’re told to quarantine, do it. Do it, or we’ll make you do it – Bainimarama

The Prime Minister says if the government tells you to self-quarantine, do it or the government will make you do it.

Voreqe Bainimarama says if you have been directed to self-quarantine and you’re hearing this message, ask yourself: Where would you rather be? Quarantined in the comfort of your home for 14 days, or in prison for violating the law?

He says police are actively investigating reports that 36 Fiji Airways flight attendants have blatantly violated their self-quarantine, sharing grog and interacting with their friends and caregivers from outside the quarantine area.

Bainimarama has a message to those people “To those not following our instructions, I have to ask: Is this a joke to you? What in God’s name are you thinking? While Fijians in Lautoka are living under lockdown, while our health workers work day and night to test and treat patients, and while the elderly are restricted to their homes, these Fijians are spitting on all of the sacrifices their fellow Fijians are making to keep our country safe.”

Bainimarama stresses that self-quarantine isn’t a voluntary measure.

He says it is not simply a “nice thing to do”.

The Prime Minister says it is a compulsory, legally-mandated order, and these Fijians will be investigated.

Bainimarama has also made it clear that if necessary, they will be arrested, charged and punished accordingly.

The Prime Minister says in Fiji, being a flight attendant is a highly-competitive job, hundreds, if not thousands, of Fijians, strive for each position filled.

He says it should be a position you hold with pride and one you don’t take for granted.

He says if irresponsible behaviour like this continues, Fiji Airways should not hesitate to clean house and replace these people with people who take their duty of care seriously.

Bainimarama says their behaviour in-flight and the protective measures that they take to ensure the safety of their cabin should be no different than they are on the ground when they are caring for their own community.

Nadi Airport to close from tomorrow while passenger travel to the outer islands will cease from Sunday March 29th

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says they are working overtime to avoid the nightmare scenario in countries like Italy.

Bainimarama says the government is quickly acquiring new Intensive Care beds and ventilators, and taking other measures that will be announced by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in tomorrow’s supplementary budget address at 7.30pm.

He says the fact is, if what happened in Italy happens in Fiji, our healthcare system would buckle.

Bainimarama says the grim reality is that in Fiji, the number of deaths for this many cases would likely be much, much higher.

He says Fiji is at war with the coronavirus.

Bainimarama says we cannot see our enemy but we must act as if the enemy is in our midst at all times.

He says you can join the fight by washing your hands with soap and water, practicing physical distancing, two metres distance is safest and following any and every directive given to you by authorities.

The Prime Minister says Fiji now has two cases imported from overseas.

From tomorrow, Nadi Airport will be officially shut down to all scheduled passenger travel.

There are currently three flights inbound to Fiji carrying Fijians returning home from overseas, these passengers will all be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon the arrival.

Bainimarama says they are seriously concerned about the virus ever reaching any of our outer island communities.

From this Sunday, the 29th of March, all passenger travel to the outer islands will cease.

Shipping lines for freight will continue with increased bulk but decreased frequency to ensure food and other essential goods are supplied across the islands.

The ban on gatherings of 20 or more people remains in effect.

If you have a death in the family, you can proceed with a burial, so long as you limit any gatherings to fewer than 20 people.

Source: World Health Organization




8 fever clinics operating around Fiji as part of COVID-19 response plan

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 25/03/2020
[Photo:Ministry of Health]

The Ministry of Health has confirmed there are now eight fever clinics operating around the country as part of the COVID-19 response plan.

It says six clinics are now operational in Nasinu, Labasa, Savusavu and Nabouwalu while two others have been operational in Lautoka since last week.

The clinics are open from 8am to 4.30pm while the Lautoka clinics are open from 8am to 10pm in the weekdays and 8am to 4pm in the weekends.

These clinics include Valelevu Multipurpose Court in Saqa Street, Valelevu, Punjas Health Centre Carpark IN Cakau Street Lautoka, Kamikamica Health Centre Carpark, Nasea Health Centre and Empower Pacific Building (next to Ro Qomate Building) in Labasa, Old Public Health Building (next to hospital) in Savusavu, Taveuni Health Centre (Outside GOPD), Nabouwalu Fever Clinic and a dedicated tent outside Nabouwalu Hospital.

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed there will be one in the Suva area and they have identified which is currently being scoped.

He adds that Fever Clinics are also preventing and protecting the front line health workers at institutions like the CWM Hospital to ensure that patients who need other forms of care can get through to them.




Village Headman and fellow villager charged with disobedience of lawful order granted bail

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Mamanavesi and Saqanaivalu granted bail. [image: Fiji Police]

The Village Headman of Namena Village in Tailevu, 59-year-old Jese Mamanavesi and fellow villager Koroi Saqanaivalu who are charged with disobedience of lawful order have been granted bail.

The two allegedly allowed the gathering of more than 20 people at Saqanaivalu's residence on Monday night.

Their case will be called again on the 9th of April




Passengers in 3 flights which the first COVID-19 patient was in, are in the incubation period - Dr Waqainabete

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says passengers that were in the three flights which the first COVID-19 patient was in, are in the incubation period and it is important to make sure they are isolated.

He says the Ministry is looking at them with purpose for the 14 day period.

Doctor Waqainabete says their teams visit the people that were on those flights at least once a day and are in contact with them through phone calls and they will also make sure with Police that these people are not up and about in the community.

He adds that it’s also very helpful for the family members to encourage them to follow the rules of isolation and self quarantine that the Ministry has in place.

The Minister says the Incident Management Team which is being managed by Doctor James Fong has made sure they have isolation facilities.

He adds that we cannot have community transmission in a chaotic and uncontrolled scale that some other high income countries have.




Fijians reaching out to one another during unprecedented times due to COVID-19 pandemic

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Lautoka Ratepayers and Residents Association distributing groceries yesterday

During these unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Fijians are reaching out to one another through acts of kindness.

While many may be isolated in Lautoka due to the lockdown – inspiring Fijians and organisations are making sure they are not alone.

The Lautoka Ratepayers and Residents Association in partnership with the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (Friend Fiji) are reaching out to those in Lautoka who are finding it hard to get by daily.

They have already distributed 50 hampers to those in need.

These hampers include items like rice, flour, dhal, cooking oil, canned tuna, biscuits, antibacterial soap and washing powder.

Lautoka businessman, Narayan Reddy who lives in Drasa Vitogo has been helping with the distribution.

Reddy says they are assisting people who are in real need.

He says they are getting about 40 calls from people everyday.

Reddy says they are also working with Empower Pacific to provide counselling as this is a stressful time for people who have lost their jobs.




COVID-19: Security of women and girls is top priority - Vuniwaqa

By Shanil Singh
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Minister for Women, Mereseini Vuniwaqa. [image: file]

With four cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji, Minister for Women, Mereseini Vuniwaqa says the safety and security of women and girls, including those with disabilities and marginalised groups is top priority.

Vuniwaqa says the Ministry is working closely with the signatories to the National Service Delivery Protocol to ensure that women and girls are protected, and perpetrators do not use this situation as an opportunity to commit violence.

This includes the Police, key government ministries, frontline service providers such as the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Medical Services Pacific, Empower Pacific and the Salvation Army.

Vuniwaqa says this is because they have seen the rise in domestic violence cases happen before during political crisis’ and natural disasters.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali says the Centre is ready to support women and girls.

Ali says while they support recommended public health measures such as social distancing but acknowledge that it may be used as a mechanism by perpetrators to further isolate women from family and social networks, creating a potentially dangerous environment for physical, sexual, and emotional violence.




Central Eastern Mini Buses Association calls for Suva-Nausori route to be shut down due to drop in operations

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 25/03/2020
[Photo:File]

The Central Eastern Mini Buses Association is calling on the government to shut down the operations between the Suva and Nausori corridor as they are seeing operations drop by at least 60%.

General Secretary of the Association, Yashwardhan Ram says they are finding difficulties in their operations such as purchasing diesel, paying the drivers wages, payment for the mini-buses and the time frame they operate.

Ram says it is difficult for them to operate with only 6 passengers in a 15 seater mini-bus.

He adds that commuters are also requesting the 2-metres distance.

There are 40 operators Central Eastern Mini Buses Association.

We have sent questions to LTA and the Minister for Transportation.




Lautoka border monitoring maximised for Police with CCTV installation

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Inspector Tuirewa of the Police Command and Control Center in Suva, monitors the situation in the Western Division's restricted border zones. [image: Fiji police]

CCTV cameras have been mounted in strategic locations along the Lautoka border maximising the ability of Police to monitor the confined area.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says a live feed has been linked to the Police Command and Control Centre in Suva where Operations Command can monitor the activities and movement of people.

Qiliho says senior officers are also able to access the live feed on their mobile phones whereby quick decisions can be made to assist officers on the frontline manning the roadblocks.




COVID-19: Two charged for their alleged involvement in the gathering of more than 20 people

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 25/03/2020

Two more people have been charged for their alleged involvement in the gathering of more than 20 people.

Police say the Village Headman of Namena Village in Tailevu and a fellow villager have both been charged with one count of Disobedience of Lawful Order.

They allegedly allowed a group of more than 20 people to gather at the second accused's home on Monday night.

Police say the two men will appear in the Nausori Magistrates Court today.

Police confirm they are also investigating another incident where a man was assisted by villagers in the Western Division to cross the Sabeto border and into the Lautoka restricted areas yesterday.




Taxi driver that transported Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji to Nadi Airport charged

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 25/03/2020

The taxi driver that transported the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji who illegally violated the Lautoka confined area and caught a flight to Sydney has been charged.

The driver from Tuvu, Lautoka was arrested yesterday for alleged disobedience of lawful order.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the man allegedly used his taxi to transport the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji based in Lautoka to the Nadi Airport last Saturday through Kings Highway.

Qiliho says they are looking at other people that helped her go past the border.




The 36 flight attendants who are on self-quarantine are alleged to be still interacting with outsiders

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 25/03/2020
Police strictly guarding the check point in Lautoka [image: Fiji Police]

The 36 flight attendants who are on self-quarantine at a Nadi hotel are allegedly having grog sessions with people from outside almost every night and other people are also bringing over food, clothes and snacks to them.

We have received reports that these people from outside are also spending time with the self isolated flight attendants.

All this is happening despite repeated calls by the Prime Minister and the Health Ministry for people to self quarantine and not to have physical interaction with anyone.

The reports have come from nearby Nadi residents.

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho has confirmed to Fijivillage that they working with the hotel on the CCTV footage and the people were warned by a senior Police Officer last night.

Qiliho says investigations are well underway and those who have disobeyed the Ministry of Health directives will be produced in court in the next few days.

Commissioner Qiliho says these people are totally being irresponsible and selfish in their actions when majority of the Fijian citizens are diligently adhering to the directives of the government.


Avoid all non-essential travel from today - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

All Fijians anywhere in the country are to avoid all non-essential travel from today after the 4th confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji – which is from Suva.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has made it clear in his statement to the nation today that no Fijian should travel from their home unless absolutely necessary.

He says people certainly should not be travelling around the country, across divisions or to different islands.

Bainimarama says children should stay at home at all times. He stresses that the elderly should stay at home at all times.

The Prime Minister says breadwinners who can go to work should go home straight after.

For everyone else, every move you make should be for your own health or the health of others.

Bainimarama says you can go out to get food, get medicine, take out money or access another essential service, it is also fine to exercise safely outdoors, so long as you maintain a safe distance from others.

But do not visit friends or family unless absolutely necessary.

The Prime Minister tells people do not host parties, do not needlessly linger and do not mingle with strangers.

Bainimarama says not in 100 years has the world seen a health crisis this severe. He says these are not normal times, and we cannot go about our day-to-day lives as if everything is normal.

He says that ignorance of the reality on the ground and the severity of this disease will get people killed.

The Prime Minister says if one person is exposed to this virus, and ignores the government’s restrictions, they could run around infecting everyone they come into contact with.

Bainimarama says if all those newly-infected people do the same, suddenly, we have a massive outbreak on our hands.

If the Ministry of Health has directed you to self-quarantine, do it.

They will be calling you and checking in on you in-person to make sure you are staying away from the public.

Self-quarantine for 14 days means you must stay in your home. During that time, you should avoid contact with other members of your household as much as humanly possible.


Stand 2 metres apart in public lines

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says people standing closely in the lines will stop from today and everyone has to keep a distance of 2 metres while standing in public lines.

Bainimarama says he has seen images going around of people standing in line and congregating in Suva and other urban areas.

He says if you need to get in line, space yourself out properly and keep 2 metres between you and everyone else.

Bainimarama says if you do not follow this, police officers will be enforcing these measures everywhere in the country.

He says their officers cannot be at all places all the time.

The Prime Minister also says that if you run a business in an industry where remote work is possible, tell your workers to start working from home.

He says we are food secure, there is no need to spend your savings in one frantic go at the supermarkets.

Bainimarama says the government has been informed that some people who ran to the stores to buy up goods in a panic are now wanting to return their groceries to the supermarkets and shops.

He also says the ban on gatherings of 20 people or more remains in full effect.

The Prime Minister says weddings, funerals, concerts and sporting events should all be cancelled.

He says when it comes to people’s health, no event is more important than people’s lives.




4th case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji - and this case is from Suva.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says early this morning, they confirmed the fourth case of COVID-19.

This patient is not related to our first three cases.

He is a 28-year-old Fijian man who arrived back into the country on Saturday from Australia.

Bainimarama says when the man left that Fiji Airways flight FJ916 on March 21st, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says he was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Prime Minister says it appears the man did everything right.

He says the man went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined.

On Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, the 28-year-old man developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough.

The man then contacted the Health Ministry and a rapid response team was immediately dispatched to his home, where he was examined and tested.

The patient then remained in self-quarantine until the test for COVID-19 returned positive.




Measures for those who travelled on Fiji Airways FJ1916

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says from tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.

Bainimarama also says there were 26 people on Fiji Airways flight FJ916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, March 21st, apart from the Suva man who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Bainimarama says Fiji Airways was practicing safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.

He says because of those safety measures, only a handful of others, two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin, risked exposure.

Bainimarama says regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.

The Prime Minister says while the risk of transmission from this case is low, the contact tracing teams are currently identifying every single person in Fiji who may have had direct contact with the patient, down to the taxi driver who drove him from Nadi Airport to Suva.

Fiji Airways has already announced they are cutting their international flights by 95%.

This passenger was on one of the final flights from Sydney to get Fijians back home.





Stand 2 metres apart in public lines

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says people standing closely in the lines will stop from today and everyone has to keep a distance of 2 metres while standing in public lines.

Bainimarama says he has seen images going around of people standing in line and congregating in Suva and other urban areas.

He says if you need to get in line, space yourself out properly and keep 2 metres between you and everyone else.

Bainimarama says if you do not follow this, police officers will be enforcing these measures everywhere in the country.

He says their officers cannot be at all places all the time.

The Prime Minister also says that if you run a business in an industry where remote work is possible, tell your workers to start working from home.

He says we are food secure, there is no need to spend your savings in one frantic go at the supermarkets.

Bainimarama says the government has been informed that some people who ran to the stores to buy up goods in a panic are now wanting to return their groceries to the supermarkets and shops.

He also says the ban on gatherings of 20 people or more remains in full effect.

The Prime Minister says weddings, funerals, concerts and sporting events should all be cancelled.

He says when it comes to people’s health, no event is more important than people’s lives.



4th case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji - and this case is from Suva.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says early this morning, they confirmed the fourth case of COVID-19.

This patient is not related to our first three cases.

He is a 28-year-old Fijian man who arrived back into the country on Saturday from Australia.

Bainimarama says when the man left that Fiji Airways flight FJ916 on March 21st, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says he was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Prime Minister says it appears the man did everything right.

He says the man went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined.

On Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, the 28-year-old man developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough.

The man then contacted the Health Ministry and a rapid response team was immediately dispatched to his home, where he was examined and tested.

The patient then remained in self-quarantine until the test for COVID-19 returned positive.



Measures for those who travelled on Fiji Airways FJ1916

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says from tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.

Bainimarama also says there were 26 people on Fiji Airways flight FJ916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, March 21st, apart from the Suva man who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Bainimarama says Fiji Airways was practicing safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.

He says because of those safety measures, only a handful of others, two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin, risked exposure.

Bainimarama says regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.

The Prime Minister says while the risk of transmission from this case is low, the contact tracing teams are currently identifying every single person in Fiji who may have had direct contact with the patient, down to the taxi driver who drove him from Nadi Airport to Suva.

Fiji Airways has already announced they are cutting their international flights by 95%.

This passenger was on one of the final flights from Sydney to get Fijians back home.






LTA CEO says people should not board public transportation if other passengers can't maintain 2-metre separation

By Semi Turaga, Iva Danford
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Land Transport Authority CEO Samuel Simpson

The Land Transport Authority CEO Samuel Simpson says if people can’t maintain a 2-metre separation between them and other passengers then they should not board the bus, minibus or taxi.

In line with the recommendations from the Ministry of Health that all non-essential travel should be suspended until the current situation has improved, Simpson says if people have to travel for essential reasons in a bus, taxi or minibus they must ensure that they maintain a clear space of at least 2 metres between them and the next nearest person.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the decision to limit or monitor people travelling in public transportation like buses will be made at the right time.

He says that this decision will be made after cabinet sits with the Ministry of Health. Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says as the situation evolves they will be making further announcements on measures for public transportation.

He was responding to a question on when the government would announce measures for buses as there is now a ban on gatherings of 20 people or more.

During peak traffic time, there can be 60 people in a bus.




28 year old man now confirmed to have COVID-19 virus after testing positive today - Dr. Sahukhan

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Head of Health Protection Doctor Aalisha Sahukhan

32 people were tested for COVID-19 at the Fiji Centres for Disease Control this morning and the sample of the 28-year-old man who is now confirmed to have the virus was the only one that came back positive.

Head of Health Protection Doctor Aalisha Sahukhan says 179 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the end of January at the Fiji Centres for Disease Control.




If you have nothing to do at the checkpoint don’t come there - Qiliho

By Iva Danford
Tuesday 24/03/2020

If you have nothing to do at the checkpoint, don’t come there.

This is the stern warning that has come from the Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho as people have been arrested for trying to get through the Lautoka checkpoint.

Twelve people have already been produced in court for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 restrictions in the Lautoka lockdown area.

They are charged with Disobedience of Lawful Order.

Uni Fiji Vice-Chancellor Update

The taxi driver that transported the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji who illegally violated the Lautoka confined area and caught a flight to Sydney has been charged.

The driver from Tuvu, Lautoka was arrested yesterday for alleged disobedience of lawful order.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the man allegedly used his taxi to transport the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji based in Lautoka to the Nadi Airport last Saturday through Kings Highway.

Qiliho says they are looking at other people that helped her go past the border.




Measures for those who travelled on Fiji Airways FJ1916

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says from tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.

Bainimarama also says there were 26 people on Fiji Airways flight FJ916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, March 21st, apart from the Suva man who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Bainimarama says Fiji Airways was practicing safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.

He says because of those safety measures, only a handful of others, two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin, risked exposure.

Bainimarama says regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.

The Prime Minister says while the risk of transmission from this case is low, the contact tracing teams are currently identifying every single person in Fiji who may have had direct contact with the patient, down to the taxi driver who drove him from Nadi Airport to Suva.

Fiji Airways has already announced they are cutting their international flights by 95%.

This passenger was on one of the final flights from Sydney to get Fijians back home.




4th case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji - and this case is from Suva.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says early this morning, they confirmed the fourth case of COVID-19.

This patient is not related to our first three cases.

He is a 28-year-old Fijian man who arrived back into the country on Saturday from Australia.

Bainimarama says when the man left that Fiji Airways flight FJ916 on March 21st, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says he was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Prime Minister says it appears the man did everything right.

He says the man went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined.

On Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, the 28-year-old man developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough.

The man then contacted the Health Ministry and a rapid response team was immediately dispatched to his home, where he was examined and tested.

The patient then remained in self-quarantine until the test for COVID-19 returned positive.




LTA to revoke PSV permit of any taxi, minibus or bus that violate Lautoka lockdown area

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020

The Land Transport Authority says it will revoke the Public Service Vehicle Permit of any taxi, minibus, bus operator who conspires to assist a person to break or frustrate the Lautoka lockdown area.

CEO Samuel Simpson says if any PSV operator is approached by any individual who seeks to attempt to breach the cordon then this matter must be reported immediately to the Fiji Police Force who will take appropriate action.

This statement by the LTA comes after a taxi driver allegedly violated the Lautoka confined area.

Police say the taxi driver from Tuvu in Lautoka allegedly used his taxi to transport the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji based in Lautoka to the Nadi Airport last Saturday through Kings Highway.

Investigations by Police are continuing concerning this latest incident as a fixer allegedly arranged this and a Personal Assistant was allegedly involved.




Father Dakai appears in court for allegedly conducting a church service in Ovalau on Sunday

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Catholic priest Fabiano Naduva Dakai

58-year-old Catholic priest, Fabiano Naduva Dakai appeared in the Nausori Magistrates Court today for allegedly conducting a church service/mass in Ovalau on Sunday which resulted in the gathering of more than 20 people.

Father Dakai is charged with one count of disobedience of lawful order.

He was released on bail and ordered not to re-offend.

The matter will be called again on the 9th of next month for plea.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has already made it clear that there is a ban on gatherings of 20 or more people.




COVID-19 Budget : Govt identifies two categories of people that can be assisted

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they have to be able cater for  different type of scenarios in the COVID-19 Response Budget and the most obvious one is to be able to work with FNPF on how they can provide a form of relief by way of access to finances for those people who are no longer employed or will no longer be employed for at least a period of time.

Sayed-Khaiyum says there are two categories of people that they see.

He says one, of course, are those people who are employed in the Lautoka confined area and the other category of people are those in the tourism sector which is not just hotels but also tour operators.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they also need to look at people in the informal sector as some people may not be members of FNPF but are making a healthy living selling dalo and cassava by the side of the road.

He says some of these people will also need to be assisted if they all of a sudden are unable to sell their products.




37 passengers remaining after 45 people came forward from flights first COVID-19 patient was in

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020
File Photo

45 people have come forward overnight after the Health Ministry published the names of 82 passengers from flights that the first COVID-19 patient also flew in.

There are 37 passengers remaining.

If you know one of these individuals, tell them to call 2219906 immediately.

The Health Ministry says these passengers need to be self-quarantined.

It says these passengers are not patients but persons of interest and those who require observation to ensure that there is no spread of potential COVID-19 in the community.

The Health Ministry says this contact tracing is a vital part of containment measures.

There are currently three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.

No

Name

Last Known Address

Division

1

Chand Charan Vishneel

Navua

Central

2

Manjula Devi

Vuci Rd, Nausori

Central

3

Vilisielesi Tavui

Navuso Agriculture Compound Nausori

Central

4

Viliame Gaunavinaka

Damu Rd, Nepani

Central

5

Magaono Tui

Kauniton St, Vatuwaqa Suva

Central

6

Singh Sneh

Nabua

Central

7

Tukia Matie

Kauniton St, Vatuwaqa Suva

Central

8

Saheeda Kanum

Drasa Lane

Central

9

Singh Rohin Lata

Tomuka

Lautoka

10

Tiare Marinoa

Lautoka

Lautoka

11

Motikaoiaki Paimanula

Lautoka

Lautoka

12

Sarita

Lautoka

Lautoka

13

Sailesh Ram

Saweni

Lautoka

14

Kumar Ripesh

Korovuto Ba

Ba

15

Raja Rama

Namosau Ba

Nadi

16

Keneth Barnes

Matamanoa & Volivoli Beach Resort

Nadi

17

Corrine Macdonnell

Matamanoa & Volivoli Beach Resort

Nadi

18

Healy Emily

Pullman Nadi Resort

Nadi

19

Tamara Melgoza

Worldmark Timeshare/Wyndham

Nadi

20

Thomas Greenspan

Pullman Nadi Resort

Nadi

21

Alvin Daluyaya

Worldmark Timeshare/Wyndham

Nadi

22

Juvirah Frondoso

Worldmark Timeshare/Wyndham

Nadi

23

Anu Radha

Navakai Nadi

Nadi

24

Tamara Uekes-Schenedel

Sofitel Beachfront

Nadi

25

Kurt Schenael

Sofitel Beachfront

Nadi

26

Fihaki Lupeti

Vunaivisere, Nadi

Nadi

27

Waite Terrence Keith

Marriot Resort

Nadi

28

Pietersen Roell

Club Fiji Resort, Wailoaloa Beach, Nadi

Nadi

29

Schuitemaker Amber Monique

Hilton Resort

Nadi

30

Prakash Emily Priyanka

Tokotoko Nadi

Nadi

31

Deepanjali Raksha

Tokatoka Nadi

Nadi

32

Prakash Arnav Rishabh

Tokatoka Nadi

Nadi

33

Prakash Asish

Tokatoka Nadi

Nadi

34

Prakash Anshika Ashley

Tokatoka Nadi

Nadi

35

Tan Ee Lin

Tokatoka Resort

Nadi

36

Alex George

Martintar

Nadi

37

Pushaparaj Ammini

Capricorn, Queens Road, Martintar

Nadi




Police working with company to put cameras in parts of Lautoka lockdown area

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Fiji Police Force]

Police are now working with a particular company to put cameras in areas in the Lautoka lockdown area where they cannot visually cover for 24 hours.

Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says they are working with the RFMF and have extended sea front patrols right up to the Ba area and Port Denarau.

Qiliho says they have more than enough people there to deal with the issue.

He says this is an additional task but they continue with their Community Outreach and all other activities of policing.

Twelve people have already been produced in court for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 restrictions in the Lautoka lockdown area.

They are charged with Disobedience of Lawful Order.




Catholic Priest to appear in court for Disobedience of Lawful Order

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020

A Catholic Priest has been charged with Disobedience of Lawful Order and will be appearing in the Nausori Magistrates Court this morning.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the man allegedly conducted a mass gathering at Tokou, Ovalau on Sunday whereby more than 20 people allegedly gathered for a religious service.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has already made it clear that there is a ban on gatherings of 20 or more people.




Avoid all non-essential travel from today - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

All Fijians anywhere in the country are to avoid all non-essential travel from today after the 4th confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji – which is from Suva.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has made it clear in his statement to the nation today that no Fijian should travel from their home unless absolutely necessary.

He says people certainly should not be travelling around the country, across divisions or to different islands.

Bainimarama says children should stay at home at all times. He stresses that the elderly should stay at home at all times.

The Prime Minister says breadwinners who can go to work should go home straight after.

For everyone else, every move you make should be for your own health or the health of others.

Bainimarama says you can go out to get food, get medicine, take out money or access another essential service, it is also fine to exercise safely outdoors, so long as you maintain a safe distance from others.

But do not visit friends or family unless absolutely necessary.

The Prime Minister tells people do not host parties, do not needlessly linger and do not mingle with strangers.

Bainimarama says not in 100 years has the world seen a health crisis this severe. He says these are not normal times, and we cannot go about our day-to-day lives as if everything is normal.

He says that ignorance of the reality on the ground and the severity of this disease will get people killed.

The Prime Minister says if one person is exposed to this virus, and ignores the government’s restrictions, they could run around infecting everyone they come into contact with.

Bainimarama says if all those newly-infected people do the same, suddenly, we have a massive outbreak on our hands.

If the Ministry of Health has directed you to self-quarantine, do it.

They will be calling you and checking in on you in-person to make sure you are staying away from the public.

Self-quarantine for 14 days means you must stay in your home. During that time, you should avoid contact with other members of your household as much as humanly possible.


Stand 2 metres apart in public lines

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says people standing closely in the lines will stop from today and everyone has to keep a distance of 2 metres while standing in public lines.

Bainimarama says he has seen images going around of people standing in line and congregating in Suva and other urban areas.

He says if you need to get in line, space yourself out properly and keep 2 metres between you and everyone else.

Bainimarama says if you do not follow this, police officers will be enforcing these measures everywhere in the country.

He says their officers cannot be at all places all the time.

The Prime Minister also says that if you run a business in an industry where remote work is possible, tell your workers to start working from home.

He says we are food secure, there is no need to spend your savings in one frantic go at the supermarkets.

Bainimarama says the government has been informed that some people who ran to the stores to buy up goods in a panic are now wanting to return their groceries to the supermarkets and shops.

He also says the ban on gatherings of 20 people or more remains in full effect.

The Prime Minister says weddings, funerals, concerts and sporting events should all be cancelled.

He says when it comes to people’s health, no event is more important than people’s lives.




4th case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

The fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji - and this case is from Suva.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says early this morning, they confirmed the fourth case of COVID-19.

This patient is not related to our first three cases.

He is a 28-year-old Fijian man who arrived back into the country on Saturday from Australia.

Bainimarama says when the man left that Fiji Airways flight FJ916 on March 21st, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

He says he was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Prime Minister says it appears the man did everything right.

He says the man went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined.

On Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, the 28-year-old man developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough.

The man then contacted the Health Ministry and a rapid response team was immediately dispatched to his home, where he was examined and tested.

The patient then remained in self-quarantine until the test for COVID-19 returned positive.




Measures for those who travelled on Fiji Airways FJ1916

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020
[Photo: Tourism Fiji]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says from tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.

Bainimarama also says there were 26 people on Fiji Airways flight FJ916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, March 21st, apart from the Suva man who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

Bainimarama says Fiji Airways was practicing safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.

He says because of those safety measures, only a handful of others, two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin, risked exposure.

Bainimarama says regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.

The Prime Minister says while the risk of transmission from this case is low, the contact tracing teams are currently identifying every single person in Fiji who may have had direct contact with the patient, down to the taxi driver who drove him from Nadi Airport to Suva.

Fiji Airways has already announced they are cutting their international flights by 95%.

This passenger was on one of the final flights from Sydney to get Fijians back home.






People who have been affected by job losses, asked to contact their creditors for some relief assistance

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/03/2020

With the coronavirus pandemic causing many workers to lose work hours or even be unemployed for a few months, the Consumer Council of Fiji says it is more important than ever to know what financial options available to you should you have an existing loan or hire purchase account.

The council urges consumers who are faced with financial hardships caused by the pandemic to visit their creditors and request for some relief assistance.

Council CEO Seema Shandil says this is their right pursuant to Section 66 of the Consumer Credit Act 1999 where a debtor or consumer may apply for a restructure in their credit if they are unable to make repayments because of illness, unemployment or other reasonable cause.

Shandil says consumers with hire purchase accounts, personal loans and even commercial loans may apply to their credit provider and make necessary arrangements in terms of their distress.

The Consumer Council says creditors are required by law to issue written notices setting out the particulars of the change in the terms of the credit contract and any information required by the regulations.

Shandil says the council applauds the gesture by certain banks such as the Bank of South Pacific and ANZ in coming forward to provide relief packages for their loan customers during this crisis.

She says the package aims to assist those who face difficulties during the current crisis.

While the duration of the outbreak remains uncertain, the council urges all credit providers to be accommodative and be forthcoming with customers faced with financial distress.




No face to face classes and exams at all three universities in Fiji today

By Priteshni Nand
Monday 23/03/2020

There will be no face to face classes and exams at all University of South Pacific, Fiji National University and University of Fiji campuses in Fiji after the confirmation of two COVID-19 cases.

USP is closed for its mid-semester break from today until the 5th of April.

Uni Fiji is also closed for mid-semester break

FNU is closed till Friday for semester mode students.

FNU is meeting to make further decisions on their trimester, penster, quarter and other mode students.

An announcement will be made later today.




Investigation now underway after outlet found selling drink claiming to be the arch enemy of COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 23/03/2020

There is no herbal drink that can stop COVID-19.

Please be aware of this as we are receiving reports that a herbal tea outlet in Suva is selling a drink claiming it is the arch enemy of COVID-19.

Fijivillage has alerted the Health Minister and Police regarding this matter. We will have an update soon.

Please take following precautionary measures to fight COVID-19 :

- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

- Practice social distancing. This means maintaining a safe distance of 2 metres between individuals as much as possible and avoiding in-person contact, including handshakes and hugs.

If you are feeling unwell, or know someone who is feeling unwell, immediately contact the Health Ministry on one of these numbers:

In the Central Division call 2219905;

In the Eastern Division call 2219906;

In the Western Division call 2219907; and

In the Northern, Division call 2219908




Catholic Priest to appear in court for Disobedience of Lawful Order

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 24/03/2020

A Catholic Priest has been charged with Disobedience of Lawful Order and will be appearing in the Nausori Magistrates Court this morning.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the man allegedly conducted a mass gathering at Tokou, Ovalau on Sunday whereby more than 20 people allegedly gathered for a religious service.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has already made it clear that there is a ban on gatherings of 20 or more people.




146 tested for COVID-19 - Sahukhan

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 23/03/2020
Dr. Aalisha Sahukhan

The Head of Health Protection at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Aalisha Sahukhan says the one year two-month-old baby who has tested positive for COVID-19 developed fever on Saturday while he admitted in isolation in the Nadi Hospital.

Sahukhan says the baby is in a stable condition.

She says out of the 11 family members that are currently admitted in isolation in the Nadi Hospital, six were tested after they showed some symptoms of the virus.

The mother and the baby tested positive.

Sahukhan says they will continue to keep this family in isolation and will do further tests when needed.

Sahukhan also confirms that they have tested six other contacts of the flight attendant and all have tested negative.

She says 146 tests for COVID-19 have taken place so far and all are from around the country.

Sahukhan adds that they consider the passengers on the flights with the flight attendant to be at much lower risk than the direct family members but because they are exercising an abundance of caution, they need to contact every single passenger.

set-1



Man to appear in court tomorrow for allegedly spreading false news on Facebook

By Semi Turaga
Monday 23/03/2020

A 41-year-old Makoi man will appear in the Suva Magistrates Court tomorrow for allegedly spreading false news on Facebook which created fear about COVID-19.

He has been formally charged with one count of Malicious Act.

Police say between last Friday and Saturday the man used Facebook to publish and broadcast false news about positive cases of Coronavirus at CWM Hospital.

Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says now there is a shift in how the posts are been made as people know that Police are taking people into custody and investigating cases.

He says they have reported a Jese Tuitubou to Facebook.




FNU extends its mid semester break till 4th of April

By Priteshni Nand
Monday 23/03/2020

The Fiji National University has extended its mid-semester break for all students till the 4th of April due to the confirmation of three COVID-19 cases in Fiji.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James Pounder says no teachings, examination, assessments and practicals will take place during this period.

All University of South Pacific campuses are closed for its mid-semester break till the 5th of April while the University of Fiji campuses are closed until further notice.




3rd case of COVID-19 confirmed in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 23/03/2020
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama delivers statement on COVID-19

The third case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Fiji.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama confirms that the first patient’s one-year old nephew has also contracted the virus.

Bainimarama says luckily, once again, this patient was not showing symptoms until they were in isolation, vastly cutting the odds they passed the virus onto others.

The mortality rate among the young is especially low, around the world, coronavirus has largely gone undetected in children and infants, as they display only mild symptoms.

But Bainimarama says as today’s case shows, no age group or demographic is immune to contracting or spreading the virus.

He says while the baby’s case may seem heartbreaking, what is truly frightening is the scenario that could have unfolded if the situation had been handled differently, and the first patient’s entire household wasn’t immediately put into isolation as soon as he tested positive.

Bainimarama says every grandparent, great-grandparent, uncle, aunt and neighbour who held this precious, fourteen-month-old baby boy in their arms could have easily been infected, all with just a drop of spittle, burp or cough.

He says while statistics show that babies will recover, for the more vulnerable in our society, this simple act of affection could be a death sentence.

The Prime Minister says by the grace of God, the government’s aggressive contact tracing exercise has so far proven very effective, identifying two additional patients who were already safely placed in isolation.


Stop breaching the Lautoka border

By Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga, Iva Danford
Monday 23/03/2020

The Prime Minister says he was shocked to learn that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji illegally violated the Lautoka confined area and caught a flight to Sydney.

Voreqe Bainimarama says to imagine the ordinary Fijians that would have come into contact with her on her way to Nadi, through Nadi Airport and on the plane itself.

He says her crimes put lives at-risk and are an affront to the hard work of the officers and staff, as well as the good measures they have put in place to protect our people. A taxi driver from Tuvu in Lautoka was arrested this morning for alleged disobedience of lawful order.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says the man allegedly used his taxi to transport the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji based in Lautoka to the Nadi Airport last Saturday through Kings Highway.

Investigations are continuing concerning this latest incident as a fixer allegedly arranged this and a Personal Assistant was allegedly involved.

Meanwhile, Fijivillage is trying to speak to the University of Fiji Vice-Chancellor, Sushila Chang on why she allegedly breached the Lautoka border and went to Sydney.

We have also been trying to get her comments from the weekend as the University of Fiji was the only university planning to go ahead with face to face classes and exams in Suva this week while other universities had cancelled all face to face lectures. Concerns were raised by the University of Fiji students on why the university wanted to go ahead with the classes.

There was no decision until this morning despite repeated calls and questions.

The classes and exams were cancelled this morning.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama also says it is unfortunate to see that a number of individuals have already sought to violate the government’s border protection measures in Lautoka to contain COVID-19.

Bainimarama says so far, 11 people have been charged and produced in court today.

He says in the last few hours, another three have been arrested.

Bainimarama stresses that if you are planning to illegally enter or leave the confined area, or aid and abet someone seeking to do so, think again.

He says this isn’t a game.

Bainimarama says this is a life or death situation, and punishment will match the seriousness of the offenses committed.

The Prime Minister has also made it clear that maintaining the current borders of the Lautoka confined area for the time being, but if people continue to break the law and leave or enter, the government will not have a choice – these restrictions will need to be prolonged and extended to new areas or even the entire country.

The Prime Minister also says while the borders are closed, they are going to tremendous lengths to ensure life in the Lautoka confined area goes on normally as much as possible.

He says banks, pharmacies and supermarkets all remain open.

Bainimarama says food is being regularly supplied. He says essential services are being provided.

He says while they have been disappointed to see a few bad apples, skirting the rules and recommendations they have enacted to keep Fiji safe, he has also been incredibly heartened by the nationwide response to look out for each other’s health and wellbeing.

Bainimarama says there are stories of young people doing grocery shopping for their elderly neighbours.

Stories of hotels opening their doors, free of charge, to those who are restricted from entering the confinement area. Stories of Fijians spreading love on social media, finding new ways to greet each other, and reminding their friends to spread facts, not fear.

The Prime Ministrer we should all be grateful to our disciplined forces for their vigilance in keeping Fijians from harm, but their officers cannot be everywhere at once.

He also says we need every Fijian enlisted in the enforcement effort.

If you see a large gathering going on, tell them to show some care and cancel it.

If you know someone is planning to leave the Lautoka confined area, immediately tell the Police.

If you see someone violating self-quarantine, tell them to take themselves home for the sake of everyone’s safety.

If you see people sharing a cup to drink, hugging, shaking hands or even playing rugby, tell them to stop and play it safe.

He says we need the eyes and ears of every Fijian on our side at all times – that is the only way we keep Fiji ahead of this virus.



Don’t harm yourself by taking part in illegal large gatherings - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 23/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama stresses that the 20 people limit on gatherings applies to weddings, parties, concerts, sports events, religious services, funerals - everything, and there are no exceptions.

Bainimarama stresses that none of these plans are more important than people’s lives.

He says you may live outside of Lautoka, or outside of Viti Levu, and feel that you can still gather and celebrate, safe from harm.

The Prime Minister says this mentality is stupid, as you are harming yourself.

He says it is destructive, as you are putting the integrity of the government’s containment measures in jeopardy, and it is selfish, as you are putting the lives of others at risk.

Bainimarama says the government has announced a ban on any gatherings of 20 or more people.

Workplaces, banks, supermarkets, open-air markets, pharmacies and other areas where essential services are offered are fine for now, given you keep a safe distance apart.

He says restaurant owners should also cut their seating capacity to be within our 20-person limit, keep tables hygienic and safely spaced apart, and better yet switch to delivery.

Bainimarama says for those who already offer take-away or delivery, do it more. For all others, try offering this service for the first time.

He says the border protection measures in the Lautoka confined area remain in full effect.

The Fiji Police are monitoring checkpoints at the King’s Road at Matuwalu Junction, the feeder road at Vakabuli Junction and the Queen’s Road at Natalau Junction.

International shipping services to the Lautoka port are all diverted to Suva except for those that deliver goods exclusively for food and manufacturing purposes only for the Lautoka confined area.

The Commissioner for Police will also be overseeing the safe and hygienic off and on-loading of all goods into Lautoka, and he is the main contact for the exporters and importers who qualify.





Fiji has recorded its 2nd confirmed case of COVID-19

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 21/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announced 2nd confirmed case of COVID-19

Fiji has recorded its 2nd confirmed case of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announced that the second patient is the mother of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fiji. This is Fiji’s first locally transmitted case of COVID-19.

Bainimarama says she was immediately isolated as part of their contact tracing efforts and her symptoms did not show until after she was already in isolation.

The Prime Minister says she remains isolated at the Nadi Hospital and she was safely transferred there and is in stable condition. He adds that there are no restrictions in Nadi now while the restrictions for the Greater Lautoka Area remain in place.

He adds they are widening their contact tracing to find out who the second victim was in contact within 24 hours before being isolated. He says they will be quarantined and monitored as well.

Bainimarama further adds that the victim is in isolation in Nadi, it is clear she contracted the virus while in the Lautoka confined area.

He says that she was securely and hygienically transported to the Nadi Hospital, so she poses no risk to the public in Nadi.

The Greater Lautoka Area is the area spanning from King’s Road at Nacilau Junction past Matawalu Village, to the feeder road at Vakabuli Junction, to Queen’s Road at Natalau Junction.

Bainimarama says similarly they even stopped foreign nationals who may have been in direct contact with the first COVID-19 patient from boarding any flights given that they could pose a threat to other travellers and other members of the airport staff and flight crew.

He adds instead they must remain in Fiji under strict self-quarantine for the 14 day period after which they will be allowed to return home.

The Prime Minister says they will make no exceptions.

Bainimarama says the second case is a sobering reminder that COVID-19 is extremely contagious and young people while more likely to recover can transmit the virus to the more vulnerable of our society.






2nd patient to have contracted COVID-19 is the mother of the first patient - Dr. Sahukhan

By Rashika Kumar
Saturday 21/03/2020
Head of Health Protection at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Doctor Alisha Sahukhan

The Head of Health Protection at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Doctor Alisha Sahukhan says the second patient to have contracted COVID-19 is the mother of the first patient.

She says the woman was in close contact with the first case in the same household.

The doctor says the 47-year-old woman developed symptoms after she was put in isolation and was immediately tested and the results were received in the early hours of this morning.

She adds that both the mother and son are in stable condition at Nadi and Lautoka hospitals respectively.

Doctor Sahukhan says 11 household contacts of the same family are in isolation at the Nadi Hospital and are being monitored by the staff.

Meanwhile, she says the flight attendant was in potential contact with a lot of people.

The doctor says that they are in the process of contact tracing everybody who they think was a close contact based on their guidelines.

She says that they have contacted most of them and their staff from various divisions will be following up with them daily to check if they have developed symptoms or not.

Doctor Sahukhan adds that if any other close contacts develop symptoms, they will be tested but in the meantime, they are under strict quarantine and will be followed up by the teams in the divisions.

She also says that passengers that were on FJ 871 San Francisco - Nadi on Monday, FJ 411 Nadi - Auckland on Tuesday and FJ 410 Auckland - Nadi also on Tuesday who have not been contacted should contact the Ministry of Health and must also self-quarantine.

Doctor Sahukhan has also confirmed that there were foreign nationals on those flights.




Police working with RFMF to tighten up the Lautoka border - Qiliho

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Saturday 21/03/2020
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho

Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho has highlighted that no one will enter or leave Lautoka during the isolation period.

Qiliho says they have been receiving calls and messages from people who wish to enter or leave Lautoka for all sorts of reasons but the Commissioner is urging everyone that what they are doing is for the benefit of everyone.

He adds they are now working with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to tighten up the Lautoka border as they have heard rumors that some people are trying to get in through the Sabeto waterways.

He says they have not taken anyone to task for this issue as yet.

Qiliho also stated that all foreign nationals inside the border will remain inside during the isolation period.

He adds they have set up five checkpoints to help them prevent people from entering Lautoka and has stated that only essential goods will be able to go in and out of Lautoka.

The Commissioner also stated that people should not be spreading rumors and false information as this can create fear and panic.




COVID-19: Only one confirmed case in Fiji, suspected cases have returned negative - Dr. Waqainabete

By Naveel Krishant
Friday 20/03/2020
Health Minister Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

There is only one case of COVID-19 in Lautoka and there are no other cases in Fiji.

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete confirms that all other suspected cases have been tested and have returned negative.

The confirmed COVID-19 patient is a 27-year-old flight attendant of Fiji Airways from Lautoka who had a recent travel history to the USA and New Zealand.

Doctor Waqainabete says contact tracing has been done and there are no confirmed cases in Nausori and people should stop following all the misinformation on social media.

He says all steps are being taken to protect the people of Fiji and those in the decision making process in the Health Ministry and the government as a whole will be the last people to hide information that needs to be shared.

The Health Minister says isolation and containment is the key to deal with COVID-19 and this is why swift action has been taken in Lautoka.





Disinfecting and cleaning work has been increased in all municipal council areas - Kumar

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 20/03/2020

Minister for Local Government, Premila Kumar says disinfecting and cleaning work has been increased in all municipal council areas, especially in Lautoka.

Kumar says the use of gloves for cleaning has always been the practice and orders for the increased use of masks and protective gear have been made.

She says councils are working closely with the NFA to assist with water blasting.

Kumar says markets are being assessed on a case by case basis and sections that are enclosed with little ventilation are being closed.

The Minister says that vendors are being better spaced and some vendors are now working on rotation as cleanliness and adequate ventilation is paramount to how markets will be operating.

Some markets will be moved in whole or in part - out of doors or onto verandas. She adds that overcrowding is to be controlled and more marquees will be provided as and where needed.

Kumar says the municipal councils have been directed to keep municipal markets, council offices and other council facilities clean, safe and well ventilated and to institute social distancing at customer service counters.

She adds that the municipal councils have been instructed to show local leadership and only share accurate information from the Ministry of Health and WHO on how to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus.

The Councils have now been advised not to book any events for their facilities for more than 20 people for meetings and other events.




NFA asked to asisst with disinfecting certain areas in Lautoka

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 20/03/2020
Lautoka Municipal Market

Minister for Local Government, Premila Kumar says they are now seeking help of the National Fire Authority staff to assist in the cleaning of certain areas in Lautoka.

Kumar confirms disinfectants have been provided to Lautoka, Nadi, Sigatoka and Nasinu municipal councils.

Details regarding providing disinfectants to other municipal councils are expected to be released later today.

Kumar says they want to be certain that market vendors of Lautoka Municipal Market are well protected as they will be sharing space and selling their produce.

The Local Government Minister says with the help of the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health, representatives from all municipal councils were provided with training on what has to be done during this period.

Kumar says more details regarding disinfecting work will be released soon.





91 schools in Lautoka will be closed from today after the confirmation of Fiji’s first COVID-19 case

By Priteshni Nand
Friday 20/03/2020
Lautoka Methodist Primary Scool students during their assembly early this year.

91 schools in Lautoka will be closed from today after the confirmation of Fiji’s first COVID-19 case today.  

These schools are within the lockdown zone which is from Kings Road at Nacilau Junction past Matawalu Village, Ba to feeder road at Vakabuli Junction, to the Queens Road at Natalau Junction, Nadi.

The Ministry of Education says students of the three boarding schools who have not been picked up by their parents will remain in the hostels. It is advising parents to ensure their children remain at home and safe during this period.

Parents are urged to ensure their children are engaged in learning activities at home.

The 91 schools include

 1. Sathya Sai Kindergarten

2. Wairabetia Velovelo Kindergarten

3. Koroipita Kindergarten

4. Dreketi Sangam Kindergarten School

5. Lautoka Delana Primary School Kindergarten

6. Lautoka Arya Samaj Kindergarten

7. Taiperia Methodist Pre School

8. New Generation Early Learning Centre

9. Vio Kindergarten

10. Lovu Hart Kindergarten

11. Lautoka School for Special Education Early Childhood Centre

12. Deshbandhu Kindergarten

13. St Thomas Kindergarten

14. Vuda Kindergarten

15. Gurukul Kindergarten

16. Nadi Mandir Kindergarten

17. Lautoka Methodist Kindergarten

18. Talimul Islam Kindergarten

19. Lovu Sangam Kindergarten

20. Drasa Kindergarten

21. Lautoka Baptist Church Kindergarten

22. Field 40 Kindergarten

23. Vitogo Kindergarten School

24. Wairabetia Muslim Kindergarten

25. F S C Kindergarten

26. Amichandra Kindergarten

27. Drasa Muslim Kindergarten

28. Lololo Kindergarten

29. Lomolomo Kindergarten

30. Veseisei Kindergarten

31. Early Childhood Public Education Centre

32. Vakabuli Early Childhood School

33. Lauwaki Kindergarten

34. Gandhi Bhawan Kindergarten

35. Zanana Kindergarten

36. Raviravi Sangam Kindergarten

37. Arya Samaj Natabua Kindergarten

38. Lautoka Sanatan Kindergarten

39. Vakabuli Kindergarten

40. Jasper Williams Primary School Kindergarten

41. Lomolomo Village Kindergarten

42. Lautoka Methodist Primary School

43. Lautoka Primary School

44. Lautoka Muslim Primary School

45. Lautoka Andhra Sangam Primary School

46. Lautoka Central Primary School

47. Jasper Williams Primary School

48. Lovu Sangam Primary School

49. Natabua Primary School

50. St Thomas Primary School

51. Drasa Primary School

52. Gandhi Bhawan Primary School

53. Gurukul Primary School

54. Lautoka Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School

55. Lautoka Delana Primary School

56. Saru MGM Primary School

57. Vuda District School

58. Amichandra Memorial School

59. Drasa Avenue School

60. Lautoka Arya Samaj Primary School

61. Lautoka Zhong Hua Primary School

62. Sunshine Special School

63. Lautoka School for Sp.Ed

64. Raviravi Sangam Primary School

65. Tavarau Primary School

66. Viseisei Primary School

67. Vitogo District School

68. Drasa Muslim Primary School

69. Dreketi Sangam School

70. Lololo Primary School

71. Lomolomo Public School

72. Qalitu Primary School

73. Teidamu Primary School

74. Tuvu Primary School

75. Shri Ram Govind Memorial Primary School

76. Ratu Saimoni Raseru Memorial School

77. Vakabuli Primary School

78. Deshbandhu Vitogo School

79. Wairabetia Muslim Primary School

80. Lautoka SDA Primary School

81. Sathya Sai School

82. Natabua High School

83. Drasa Secondary

84. Jasper Williams High School

85. Lautoka Muslim College

86. Lautoka Central College

87. Tilak High School

88. Ba Provincial College

89. St Thomas High School 

90. Pandit Vishnu Deo

91. Lautoka Andhra College




COVID-19: Supermarkets start item-limiting for customers

By Shanil Singh
Friday 20/03/2020
Items and signs seen at a supermarket in Suva.

Supermarkets have started to limit some items that a customer can take to ensure that everyone has fair access to them after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Fiji yesterday.

This is after retailers were asked by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission to exercise their judgement based on customer and store locations to limit sales for customers.

All New World Supermarket outlets have limited the sale of 1 bag 4kg sugar per customer and a maximum of 2 bags of garlic per customer.


They are also allowing an individual to purchase only one 10 pack of toilet paper.



When asked about these measures, they say that these are the items that are going quickly which is why the limitations have been put in place.

Similar arrangements were seen at MH Superfresh.

We have also seen that the panic buying by people which was witnessed yesterday has settled down and the supermarkets were not as busy today.




It's important people show basic human decency and stop vilifying an individual who has been identified as the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fiji - Raj

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 19/03/2020

The Director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj says it is important that people show basic human decency and stop vilifying an individual in Lautoka who has been identified as the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fiji.

Raj says instead of vilifying and apportioning blame, all Fijians must unite in solidarity, take heed of the stringent but proportionate measures outlined by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in his address to the nation and desist from engaging in acts that encourage racism, xenophobia and stigmatization.

Raj adds we must respect human rights in the context of COVID-19 and realise that those that maybe suspected to have contracted the virus must enjoy the right to health without stigma and the right to privacy.

He says COVID-19 will also have a disproportionate impact on a broad range of economic and social rights as well as freedoms.



COVID-19: Damodar City Aquatic and National Fitness Centre shut down till further notice

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020

The Fiji Sports Council has announced that Damodar City Aquatic Centre and the National Fitness Centre are closed until further notice.

This is in accordance with the Ministry of Health advisory on COVID-19 presented by the Prime Minister.

After 14 days, the Fiji Sports Council will review this position with advice from authorities.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has stated that nightclubs, gyms, cinemas, swimming pools, fitness centres and even recreational contact sporting engagements, which, by their nature, make personal space nearly impossible should also be closed and ceased everywhere in Fiji, effective immediately.



COVID-19: Damodar Cinemas shut down till further notice

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
[Photo: TimesofIndia]

Damodar Cinemas has announced that as a COVID-19 precautionary measure, they will be closed until further notice.

The company says it acknowledges the recent statement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and they will close down operations until further notice.




COVID-19: Govt may invoke hardship provision in Consumer Credit Act

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 19/03/2020

As some people have now been made redundant from their workplaces due to the slowdown in the economy and effects of COVID-19, Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says under the Consumer Credit Act there is a hardship provision which can allow for repayments for personal mortgages and hire purchases to be deferred.

He says this is, of course, something, they intend to have invoked.

Sayed-Khaiyum says many of the financial institutions have come forward themselves to say that they will have that invoked.

He says for example in some instances this could mean a complete stop of repayments or could be only interest payments.

Sayed-Khaiyum says there are many other loans that fall outside the Consumer Credit Act, for example small businesses and other larger businesses.

He says again the banks have shown an appetite to stop repayments in this regard.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the banks have also shown an appetite to be able to give repayment holidays where they defer the principal amount payments and also looking at interest rates.




No specific enforcement measures for those who breach ban on gatherings of 20 or more - AG

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 19/03/2020

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they have not announced any specific measures regarding fines and penalties for those people that do not follow the ban on gatherings of 20 or more people in Fiji.

Responding to a question about how government would enforce the ban and whether Police and the RFMF would be used to enforce it, Sayed-Khaiyum says at this point in time they are relying on people’s good will, wisdom and sense of self-preservation and patriotism.

Sayed-Khaiyum says he hopes common sense will prevail.




All civil servants are advised to report to work

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020

The Ministry of Civil Service says all civil servants are advised to report to work.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced heightened containment measures in the confined Lautoka area from midnight tonight.

The Lautoka confined area spans from King's Road at Nacilau Junction past Matawalu village, to the feeder road at Vakabuli junction, to the Queen's Road and Natalau junction.

The ministry says civil servants who live and work in the Lautoka confined area are to report to their normal place of work.

Civil servants who live outside the Lautoka confined area, but work within the confined area, are to report to the nearest government office of their ministry.

The Ministry of Civil Service says if there is no such ministry office, they should report to any other government office outside the Lautoka confined area.

For instance, a civil servant residing in Ba or Nadi and working in the Lautoka confined area, must report to the nearest government office in Ba or Nadi.

Civil servants who live in the Lautoka confined area and work outside the confined area should report to their nearest government office of their ministry within the Lautoka confined area.

If there is no such ministry office, they should report to any other government office within the Lautoka confined area. For instance, a civil servant living in Lautoka and working in Ba or Nadi must report to the nearest government office of their ministry within the Lautoka confined area.

Civil servants who live outside the Lautoka confined area, but commute through the Lautoka confined area to get to work, should also report to the nearest government office of their ministry outside of the confined area.

If there is no such ministry office, they should report to any other government office outside the Lautoka confined area. For instance, if you live in Nadi and travel to Ba through the Lautoka confined area for work, then you should report to the nearest government office of your ministry in Nadi.




NZ to close its borders to anyone not a citizen or permanent resident - PM Ardern

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020

The prime minister has confirmed that the New Zealand border will be closed to anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident from 11.59pm tonight.

Children and partners of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to enter.

People from the Pacific will be included in the border closure, as will temporary workers or temporary visa holders such as students.

If travellers are boarding a flight, transiting on their way to New Zealand, or on an aircraft before midnight, they will be able to land and enter the country when they arrive.

"I recognise how extraordinary this is," said Ardern, but the measure had to be taken to protect New Zealand from Covid-19

"In no time in New Zealand's history has a power like this been used."

The ban applies to people not product, and those staffing freight ships and planes are not included.

Those who have travelled here from other countries recently are still required to self-isolate, and those who have been here longer are being encouraged to look at how they can get home.

"I'm not willing to take risks here," Ardern said.

She said the decision was made between 4pm and 5pm this evening. Only Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was told of these changes beforehand.

Those who have already boarded or are enroute will be able to enter New Zealand.

"I have simply removed the risk. I'm not willing to tolerate risk at our border, that is where predominantly of our cases are coming from," said Ardern.

She added that while "we will continue to have cases in New Zealand as we continue to test those with symptoms who have come home, we must slow down the transmission in New Zealand".

Earlier, there were travel bans on anyone arriving from China and Iran, and all others - except those from the Pacific - had to self-isolate for 14 days.

Earlier this afternoon, the government announced a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

Ardern has already given one update on the government response to the Covid-19 coronavirus today. Speaking in Rotorua, she told New Zealanders they must prepare for the full effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but must not panic, especially over rumours and misinformation.




FCCC to constantly monitor retailers on keeping all products available

By Iva Danford
Thursday 19/03/2020

Retailers have been asked by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission to exercise their judgement based on customer and store locations to limit sales for customers so that everyone has fair access.

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission says they will constantly monitor the situation and have asked traders to do their best to keep all products available to everyone.

It says if shortages are noted then other limits may be put in place, however this will only be done if absolutely necessary.

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission says their role is to help make sure all Fijians can access the products they need.

It further says they are working very closely with importers, wholesalers and retailers to get products onto shelves as quickly as we can to meet this demand.

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission says it is worth noting that the vast majority of products are not affected, and supermarkets and pharmacies are not seeing shortages, however, to make sure everyone has access to essential items, they have introduced some common-sense limits to essential products.

FCCC will monitor this situation and release advisories as required.




We were preparing for some time when Fiji will have the first case of COVID-19 - Omundson

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 19/03/2020
Water Authority of Fiji CEO, Barry Omundson

Water Authority of Fiji CEO, Barry Omundson says they were preparing for some time when Fiji will have the first case of COVID-19 and they have a fairly good plan in place in terms of providing water to all Fijians.

Omundson says as the CEO of WAF for the last three months, he has found out that normal water supply is not really normal in Fiji and there is intermittent supply in a lot of places.

Omundson says they are well aware of the current situation as water is now a sense of safety which they will do their best to provide to all Fijians.

He has also urged people to store drinking water in light of adverse weather conditions currently affecting Fiji.

Omundson says their teams are working to maintain good water supply throughout the country however the current weather conditions may affect their systems and is urging Fijians to be prepared for emergencies.

He says people should also boil all drinking water before consumption as an added precaution. Omundson says water carting trucks are on standby and will be deployed as needed to impacted areas, with high priority given to hospitals.




Govt to make announcement with respect to those who work in Lautoka and will be absent from work

By Iva Danford
Thursday 19/03/2020
This was highlighted by the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

The government will be making announcements soon with respect to how people who work in Lautoka but do not live there and how their absence from work will be treated.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who says that they will need to put measures in place.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the government is currently talking to the Fiji National Provident Fund on how members can access their funds.

He says they will also be discussing how much people can get out and this is work in progress.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that this assistance will be targeted.

He says there will be instances where maybe some people who may have amounts of money that they can withdraw and there will be people that cannot withdraw due to minimum FNPF contributions.

Sayed-Khaiyum says with cases where people cannot withdraw, the government is looking at how it can give them some form of assistance.




COVID-19 patient is a 27-year-old flight attendant who had recent travel history to USA and NZ - Dr. Sahukhan

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 19/03/2020
Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Alisha Sahukhan

The Head of Health Protection at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Alisha Sahukhan says the COVID-19 patient is a 27-year-old flight attendant of Fiji Airways who had a recent travel history to the USA and New Zealand.

Dr. Sahukhan says the flight attendant presented at Lautoka Hospital on Tuesday evening displaying respiratory symptoms at which point he was immediately isolated by the staff into a dedicated isolation ward.

Dr. Sahukhan says the patient remains isolated and is in a stable condition.

She says they received the test results this morning.

Dr. Sahukhan it is important to note that this is an imported case of the virus and is not a locally transmitted case.

She says based on the patients travel history and when his symptoms started, they believe that he got COVID-19 in the USA.

Dr. Sahukhan says they are focused on the patient’s movement since Monday as that is when the period started when he could spread the disease to others.

She says based on this information, they are now contacting passengers and crew who may have been exposed on Fiji Airways flights that he was working on.

These flights are FJ871 from San Francisco to Nadi which arrived in Nadi on Monday, FJ411 from Nadi to Auckland and the return flight FJ410 from Auckland to Nadi, both on Tuesday.

She says they are working closely with Fiji Airways to contact the passengers and crew.

If you had travelled on these flights then please contact:

In the Central Division call 2219905; In the Eastern Division call 2219906; In the Western Division call 2219907; and In the Northern Division call 2219908.




No sense in running to the market and buying up massive amounts of goods - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
PM at the announcement of safety measures in regards to first case of COVID-19.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainiamarama says essential goods will be available in the country and there is no need for people to rush and buy in large stocks.

Bainimarama says no one should act in fear or with panic.

He says we are in this together, we will endure this together and we will overcome this together as well.

Fiji’s health relies on your help in the government’s containment efforts. If you are feeling unwell, or know someone who is feeling unwell, immediately contact the Health Ministry on one of these numbers:

In the Central Division call 2219905;  

In the Eastern Division call 2219906;

In the Western Division call 2219907; and

In the Northern Division call 2219908.




COVID-19: Gatherings of 20 or more people banned in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
Gatherings of 20 or more people are now banned in Fiji and nightclubs will also be applicable to this as stated by the PM

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that gatherings of 20 or more people are now banned in Fiji after the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case.

Gatherings are defined as any assembly of individuals in a single location, including meetings, religious gatherings, such as church, mosque and temple services, and sports events.

At this stage, workplaces, businesses and inter-island shipping services outside of Lautoka may remain open, buses and Fiji Link services can continue and schools, outside of Lautoka, will remain open.

However Bainimarama says all Fijians should avoid all non-essential travel.

The Prime Minister says nightclubs, gyms, cinemas, swimming pools, fitness centres and even recreational contact sporting engagements, which, by their nature, make personal space nearly impossible should also be closed and ceased everywhere in Fiji, effective immediately.

For the time being, the judiciary will continue to function, but there will be no movement of people in remand centres into or out of the Greater Lautoka Area.

The government will also be establishing fever clinics in each Division, similar to what other countries have done to contain the virus at the local level.

Bainimarama says these clinics will be designed to keep people with fevers away from vulnerable people who visit Health Centres and into separate, dedicated spaces specially designed to effectively identify possible COVID-19 cases.

Bainimarama says this is an aggressive, proportionate and most importantly scalable response.

All of these measures will be reviewed in 14 days time.

The Prime Minister also confirms that before then, measures may escalate if necessary as they monitor the situation, particularly the outcomes of their contact tracing.




Health Ministry identifying those who were in contact with Lautoka man who tested positive for COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete confirms that their team is in the process of identifying all those people who were in contact with the Lautoka man who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Fijivillage has received confirmation that the man’s family is now in isolation.

Doctor Waqainabete confirms that there are no locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in Fiji, but they are vastly expanding containment measures.

As earlier highlighted on Legend FM News, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has tweeted that “there is a single confirmed case of COVID19 in Lautoka that was imported from a patient who had recently travelled abroad. He was immediately isolated, where he remains under careful medical supervision”.

Panic buying in a number of areas has started in the country with people rushing to get groceries from supermarkets.

Many parents are even rushing to pick up their children from school. We are urging people to remain calm and take all necessary precautions while we await word from the government on what is happening.

The Education Ministry is not saying anything at the moment on schools. Stay listening to us as we will have further announcements.

This morning, the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s Tournament was postponed to a later date after organizers announced that there is a case of COVID-19 in Lautoka.

Stay with us.



Economic impact from COVID-19 could exceed TC Winston - AG

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [Photo:Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum]

Minister for Economy and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji, and other small island developing states across the world, are bracing themselves for an economic impact that could well exceed a severe tropical hurricane, such as Cyclone Winston which struck Fiji in 2016 and wiped out one-third of our gross domestic product in just 36 hours.

As global supply chains and shipping routes are affected, and tourism and travel-related industries face unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, the contractions across all developing economies will be measured in more than job losses or percentage points shaved from our growth.

In an article on the Financial Times, Sayed-Khaiyum wrote that as resources run out, the work done to achieve sustainable development goals also risks unravelling — be that curbing climate change to keeping our people healthy, or indeed every benchmark of the United Nations 2030 agenda.

Sayed-Khaiyum says while Fiji may not see millions of tourists, like Australia and New Zealand, our 850,000 annual visitors contribute up to 38 per cent of gross domestic product.

He says tourism revenues help fund critical infrastructure projects; a 10 per cent environmental and climate adaptation levy on the rum punch you drink at a Fijian resort helps fund the reconstruction of schools destroyed by tropical cyclones.

But as Fiji closes its borders to some countries, and other nations impose restrictions on their returning citizens, that once-reliable income will dissipate.

Sayed-Khaiyum says whether they are cleaning staff, taxi drivers, restaurant workers, security guards, artisans, market vendors, farmers, or our famous fire-walkers, Fijians will feel the economic crunch intensely. He says teleworking simply isn’t an option if your job is walking across hot coals.

The Attorney General says that furthermore, the privileges that developed nations can afford for many of their citizens aren’t limited to working from home.

He says national airline carriers and cruise lines from wealthier countries are already indicating that they will need financial lifelines.

Sayed-Khaiyum says developing economies do not have the luxury of high fiscal reserves to bail out industries, pump trillions of dollars into our markets, or offer citizens large-scale economic packages. He says Qantas could be propped up by the Australian government, but Fiji Airways will need to find radically new ways to adapt — as will developing nations across the world.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the world economy pulled itself out of the global financial crisis in 2008 through an unprecedented, internationally co-ordinated effort to re-spark global growth, with crisis lending in 2009 essentially doubling from pre-recession levels. He says we have yet to see the same level of multilateralism in response to the financial and commercial challenges stemming from coronavirus.

He says nations are operating in silos rather than in solidarity. And he says without a cohesive global response, developing economies will suffer the most.

Sayed-Khaiyum says emergency measures must inject crisis funding into vulnerable economies. He says budgetary support and affordable finance at recession-halting scales are essential to preserve the market forces that underpin the global economy.

Fiji is preparing a Covid-19 budget to fund vast preparatory measures.

Sayed-Khaiyum writes that fortunately, we can afford to take some of these countermeasures from a position of relative financial strength. But multilateral approaches must match our urgency and creativity to ensure the viability of many developing nations. 

He says if multilateral development banks withhold support until the virus strikes small island states, they will leave us exposed.

Sayed-Khaiyum says with the worst yet to come, every day of delay risks robbing the world of a sustainable future.




Number of safety measures announced after first case of COVID-19 was confirmed

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced a number of measures to try to isolate and contain COVID-19 after the first case of coronavirus in Lautoka.

Border Restrictions and Self Quarantine
By: Vijay Narayan

From midnight tonight our border restrictions on Mainland China, Italy, Iran, Spain and South Korea will be extended to foreign nationals who have been present in the USA and all of Europe including the United Kingdom within 14 days of their intended travel.

Also from midnight tonight, anyone who enters our country from any overseas destination will be required to self quarantine for 14 days meaning they must stay in one place and avoid contact with others or going out in public.

The most stringent travel restrictions have been announced for Lautoka
By: Vijay Narayan

The Prime Minister says starting at midnight tonight, all schools and non-essential businesses within the Greater Lautoka Area will be closed until further notice.

The government is defining the Greater Lautoka Area as the area spanning from King’s Road at Nacilau Junction past Matawalu Village, to the feeder road at Vakabuli Junction, to the Queen’s Road at Natalau Junction.

Banks, supermarkets and pharmacies, and other essential businesses in the Greater Lautoka Area will remain open.

Essential businesses include air and rescue services, air traffic control services, civil aviation, telecommunication services, food and sanitary manufacturing plants, electricity services, emergency services, fire services, health and hospital services, lighthouse services, meteorological services, mine pumping, ventilation and winding, sanitary services, supply and distribution of fuel and gas, power, telecommunications, garbage collection, transport services and water and sewage services.

Fijians who work but do not live in this area should report to the nearest office outside of the monitored area, regardless of whether their industry falls under the essential businesses list.

If there is no branch of your company outside of the Greater Lautoka area, please contact your employer and the Prime Minister says government will, in the next few days, announce how your absence from work will be treated during this situation.

Bainimarama says they advise all employers to accommodate the needs of your employees and not make any employees redundant.

 He says basically, if you are living in the Greater Lautoka Area, you will now stay in the Greater Lautoka Area. If you do not live in the Greater Lautoka Area, you cannot travel there, even if you work there.

 By continuing the essential services, Bainimarama says the government will ensure the supply of food will continue to be available.

In order to maintain food security, the Agriculture Marketing Authority will be buying fruits, vegetables and root crops at the border of the Greater Lautoka Area from the farmers and middle-men to be sold to the vendors for sale at local markets in the Greater Lautoka Area.

The Minister for Agriculture will provide the specifics of this programme this afternoon.


COVID-19: Gatherings of 20 or more people banned in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
Gatherings of 20 or more people are now banned in Fiji and nightclubs will also be applicable to this as stated by the PM

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that gatherings of 20 or more people are now banned in Fiji after the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case.

Gatherings are defined as any assembly of individuals in a single location, including meetings, religious gatherings, such as church, mosque and temple services, and sports events.

At this stage, workplaces, businesses and inter-island shipping services outside of Lautoka may remain open, buses and Fiji Link services can continue and schools, outside of Lautoka, will remain open.

However Bainimarama says all Fijians should avoid all non-essential travel.

The Prime Minister says nightclubs, gyms, cinemas, swimming pools, fitness centres and even recreational contact sporting engagements, which, by their nature, make personal space nearly impossible should also be closed and ceased everywhere in Fiji, effective immediately.

For the time being, the judiciary will continue to function, but there will be no movement of people in remand centres into or out of the Greater Lautoka Area.

The government will also be establishing fever clinics in each Division, similar to what other countries have done to contain the virus at the local level.

Bainimarama says these clinics will be designed to keep people with fevers away from vulnerable people who visit Health Centres and into separate, dedicated spaces specially designed to effectively identify possible COVID-19 cases.

Bainimarama says this is an aggressive, proportionate and most importantly scalable response.

All of these measures will be reviewed in 14 days time.

The Prime Minister also confirms that before then, measures may escalate if necessary as they monitor the situation, particularly the outcomes of their contact tracing.




No sense in running to the market and buying up massive amounts of goods - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
PM at the announcement of safety measures in regards to first case of COVID-19.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainiamarama says essential goods will be available in the country and there is no need for people to rush and buy in large stocks.

Bainimarama says no one should act in fear or with panic.

He says we are in this together, we will endure this together and we will overcome this together as well.

Fiji’s health relies on your help in the government’s containment efforts. If you are feeling unwell, or know someone who is feeling unwell, immediately contact the Health Ministry on one of these numbers:

In the Central Division call 2219905;  

In the Eastern Division call 2219906;

In the Western Division call 2219907; and

In the Northern Division call 2219908.




COVID-19 patient is a 27-year-old flight attendant who had recent travel history to USA and NZ - Dr. Sahukhan

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 19/03/2020
Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Alisha Sahukhan

The Head of Health Protection at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr. Alisha Sahukhan says the COVID-19 patient is a 27-year-old flight attendant of Fiji Airways who had a recent travel history to the USA and New Zealand.

Dr. Sahukhan says the flight attendant presented at Lautoka Hospital on Tuesday evening displaying respiratory symptoms at which point he was immediately isolated by the staff into a dedicated isolation ward.

Dr. Sahukhan says the patient remains isolated and is in a stable condition.

She says they received the test results this morning.

Dr. Sahukhan it is important to note that this is an imported case of the virus and is not a locally transmitted case.

She says based on the patients travel history and when his symptoms started, they believe that he got COVID-19 in the USA.

Dr. Sahukhan says they are focused on the patient’s movement since Monday as that is when the period started when he could spread the disease to others.

She says based on this information, they are now contacting passengers and crew who may have been exposed on Fiji Airways flights that he was working on.

These flights are FJ871 from San Francisco to Nadi which arrived in Nadi on Monday, FJ411 from Nadi to Auckland and the return flight FJ410 from Auckland to Nadi, both on Tuesday.

She says they are working closely with Fiji Airways to contact the passengers and crew.

If you had travelled on these flights then please contact:

In the Central Division call 2219905; In the Eastern Division call 2219906; In the Western Division call 2219907; and In the Northern Division call 2219908.



 

 

 



PM to make announcement following the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [Photo:Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum]

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama will make an announcement soon following the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Fiji.

As earlier highlighted on Legend FM News, Minister for Health, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has tweeted that “there is a single confirmed case of COVID19 in Lautoka that was imported from a patient who had recently travelled abroad. He was immediately isolated, where he remains under careful medical supervision”.

Doctor Waqainabete also tweeted “Our team is identifying all those who he was in contact with. There are no locally transmitted cases in Fiji, but we are vastly expanding containment measures. Details are being finalised now.”

Panic buying in a number of areas has started in the country with people rushing to get groceries from supermarkets.

Many parents are even rushing to pick up their children from school. We are urging people to remain calm and take all necessary precautions while we await word from the government on what is happening.

The Education Ministry is not saying anything at the moment on schools. Stay listening to us as we will have further announcements.

This morning, the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s Tournament was postponed to a later date after organizers announced that there is a case of COVID-19 in Lautoka.


Stay with us.




First COVID-19 case in Fiji confirmed - Dr. Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020

As earlier highlighted on Fijivillage, Minister for Health Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has tweeted that “there is a single confirmed case of COVID19 in Lautoka that was imported from a patient who had recently travelled abroad. He was immediately isolated, where he remains under careful medical supervision”.

He also says “Our team is identifying all those who he was in contact with. There are no locally transmitted cases in Fiji, but we are vastly expanding containment measures. Details are being finalised now.”

However the panic buying in a number of areas has started in the country with people rushing to get groceries from supermarkets.

Many parents are even rushing to pick up their children from school.

We are urging people to remain calm and take all necessary precautions while we await word from the government on what is happening.

The Education Ministry is not saying anything at the moment on schools.

Stay listening to us as we will have further announcements.

This morning, the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s Tournament was postponed to a later date after organizers announced that there is a case of COVID-19 in Lautoka.

Marist Rugby Club President, Lawrence Tikaram says they received the confirmation this morning and they have taken this step for the safety and welfare of the players and spectators.

Stay with us for more.


COVID-19: Panic Buying Starts

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 19/03/2020

People are continuing to flock to supermarkets to stock up on food and essential household items as the nation awaits the major announcement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fijivillage visited supermarkets in Suva this morning and found many packed and out of trolleys as they suddenly received an influx of customers.

Since 9 o'clock this morning, it has been packed at Extra Supermarket along Flagstaff.

Extra Supermarket says on a normal day they have 170 trolleys available but since 9am they have had to bring out 100 more trolleys.

It says they have no problems with stock at the moment.

Toilet paper has been the consistent item on everyone’s trolley.

Saheema Nisha from 9 miles was one of the many that rushed to Extra Supermarket this morning.

There were also long lines of people at MH Superfresh in Tamavua.

There were people lining up at the counter and also outside waiting for trolleys.

MH Superfresh says they have more than enough stock available.

Max Value in Flagstaff was also packed this morning.

We have been told they have more than enough stock.




Government Preparedness and People’s Responsibility

By Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga
Thursday 19/03/2020

The government already has secure isolation facilities up and running throughout Fiji, with the Central Division being served by Navua Hospital, the Western Division served by the Nadi Hospital, and Labasa Hospital serving the Northern Division.

The Prime Minister had earlier said that as we monitor the situation, more isolation units will be established as the need arises in accordance with their expansion plan.

Voreqe Bainimarama says if and when we see our first case of COVID-19, far more stringent measures will immediately come into effect to aggressively prevent the spread of the disease, as other nations have done, such as bans on local gatherings.

The single most important thing anyone can do is to wash your hands with soap and water on a regular basis.

The combination of soap and water kills COVID-19 dead in its tracks.

Bainimarama has said that a thorough and effective handwashing takes 20 seconds –– and with this simple act, you may very well be saving a life.

We all also need to break the habit of shaking hands, hugging and sharing takis and bilos. Instead, simply share a “bula” from a safe distance and limit in-person contact as much as possible.

This isn’t just about protecting yourself, this is about your responsibility to the well-being of the countless Fijians who you cross paths with every day.

He says do it to protect the elderly woman you walk by at the market, the man with a pre-existing heart condition who rides the bus with you, or the grandparent who you look after.

Bainimarama had said that our population is already vulnerable to coronavirus.

Those with preexisting conditions and NCDs –– like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer –– are at a higher risk of death by COVID-19.





University of Fiji cancels graduation ceremony due to COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Thursday 19/03/2020
The University say certificates and transcript can also be posted upon the students requests.

The University of Fiji has cancelled its graduation ceremony that was scheduled to take place next Friday due to the advice from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education on mass gatherings in light of COVID-19.

The University says graduating students can collect their certificates and transcript next Friday from the Student Administration Office in Saweni, Lautoka from 9am to 4pm.

Students that wish to collect their certificate and transcript from Samabula Campus are requested to inform the Examination office two days prior to collection.

The University say certificates and transcript can also be posted upon the students requests.

University of Fiji says they prioritise the health and safety of students, staff and stakeholders.   




Marist 7s postponed due to suspected case of COVID-19 in Lautoka

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 19/03/2020

The Fiji Bitter Marist 7s Tournament has been postponed to a later date after organizers received confirmation that there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in Lautoka.

Marist Rugby Club President, Lawrence Tikaram says they received the confirmation this morning and they have taken this step for the safety and welfare of the players and spectators.

We are currently trying to speak to Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete to get confirmation on the announcement made by the organizers of the Marist 7s.



Home self-isolation for Fijians returning from countries listed on restricted travel list - Dr Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 18/03/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete doing tests at Nadi International Airport [Photo: Ministry of Health & Medical Services - Fiji Facebook Page]

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has made it clear that Fijians returning to the country from Fiji’s restricted travel list countries have to self-isolate or self-quarantine at their homes for 14 days.

He says the restricted travel list countries can change at any time based on local transmission and other issues so Fijians travelling back need to stay updated on information as it can change every hour based on global developments.

Doctor Waqainabete confirms that Fijians returning from Mainland China, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Spain are required to undergo mandatory self-quarantine or self-isolation for 14 days upon their arrival to Fiji.

The people will be given health contacts after they leave the airport and if they develop any symptoms, the Ministry will immediately deal with them.

He says personal hygiene is important and everyone should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water.

If people present themselves with symptoms similar to COVID-19, then they can be isolated at the health facility and be tested.

Members of our disciplined forces are also going through a contact tracing workshop on how to deal with contact tracing if we have a confirmed COVID-19 case in Fiji.

The Health Minister confirms that 5 tests were conducted yesterday and all have returned negative while 5 others are being tested today.

Doctor Waqainabete says the number of people to have tests will continue to increase as anyone with similar symptoms to COVID-19 will be tested.

There are no confirmed cases at the moment. Fiji’s borders have been closed to all foreign nationals who have been present in Mainland China, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Spain within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

All Fijians travelling overseas should be aware, if a country they visit is added to Fiji’s restricted travel list while they are abroad, they will also be required to undergo mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Fiji.

Fijians are also strongly urged to refrain from any non-essential overseas travel.



Agriculture Response Package for COVID-19 will be implemented to ensure access to food is not affected - Reddy

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 19/03/2020
Minister for Agriculture. Dr Mahendra Reddy . [image: file]

Minister for Agriculture Dr. Mahendra Reddy says an Agriculture Response Package for COVID-19 will be implemented to ensure access to adequate food of acceptable quality and nutritional value is not affected.

The initiative will include the strengthening of the Ministry’s seed distribution system, whereby free seeds for short-term crops will be distributed at no cost to the farmers.

These seeds and planting materials will be distributed via all Agricultural Extension Offices from the 30th of this month and to access this assistance, applicants need only fill an Agriculture COVID Response form available at all Ministry of Agriculture offices nationwide.

Dr. Reddy says the Ministry will organize seeds and planting materials before they are delivered to distribution venues and the distribution process will happen simultaneously at all venues in the Western, Central, Northern, and Eastern Divisions over a period of six weeks.

He says they will scale up their Home Gardening Program whereby over the next three months, they will aim to reach all households in small towns around Fiji and in large municipalities, they will try to target at least 30 percent of the households.

Dr. Reddy says this will mean that they will increase the number of distribution venues at large towns and cities together with the number of packages from the previous 50 packages per venue to 150 packages per venue.

He says in addition, their new Farm Support Package will aim to boost production of short-term crops by providing seeds and planting materials to farmers around Fiji.

Dr. Reddy says specifically, the distribution will be limited to quarter acre per crop whereby every farmer will be assisted with one short-term crop.

The targeted vegetables and crops are Taro, Cassava, Rice, Kumala, Duruka, Eggplant, Chillies, Okra, Tomatoes, Maize, Bitter Gourd, Pidgeon Pea, and Cowpea.

The Agriculture Minister says COVID-19 is a reminder of the need to be food secure.

Minister Reddy also made a special call to the tourism sector and chefs, in particular, to use local produce in light of COVID-19 to promote locally grown fruits and vegetables.

He says it’s time to put our local dishes which are prepared using local produce on the menu and this will reduce our reliance on imported foods.


 



French Ambassador to Fiji praises Fiji’s response to battle COVID-19

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 18/03/2020
French Ambassador to Fiji Jean-Francois Fitou

French Ambassador to Fiji, Jean-Francois Fitou has praised Fiji’s response to battle COVID-19.

Fitou says Fiji has taken the right measures at the right time and has also praised Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

He says that the Fijians are well protected adding that other countries like France are less fortunate.

The Ambassador says it is a privilege for people living in Fiji.

France has around 8000 cases of COVID-19, 200 deaths due to the virus and 700 people are in ICU.

Meanwhile, France has suspended visa applications to France and other French Territories until further notice.

Fitou says the French TTService will no longer accept any application whether it is tourist, diplomatic or long stay visa.

Fitou says the exceptions can be made for very specific cases, only at the embassy in which case applicants will have to to contact directly.

He adds all appointments will be closed until further notice and he is asking all the applicants who have already booked an appointment to report their visa applications to a later date.

Fitou says French nationals and people who have permit to live in France are allowed to return to France adding they will have to self-isolate.

He further says that Fijians in France including rugby players do not have COVID-19.



Community isolation an option - Dr Tudravu

By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 18/03/2020
Chief medical officer Dr Jemesa Tudravu explains the effects of coronavirus to the people of Galoa [Photo: Ministry of Health & Medical Services - Fiji Facebook Page]

Community isolation will be considered by the Health Ministry if there is no more space available in hospitals during an outbreak of COVID-19 in Fiji.

Speaking at a retreat for Senior Pastors of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, Fiji's Chief Medical Adviser Jemesa Tudravu says it has been seen in countries where there have been outbreaks that hospitals have been unable to cater for the number of people infected.

He says this means that there will be people that will be sent back home to self-isolate because hospitals will only take in those with serious cases.

Doctor Tudravu says they are preparing a checklist that will advise people who will be cared for at home on what steps they will have to do.

He says this is being prepared in all languages.

He says community isolation will happen if hospitals are full and then those that are infected come from villagers across the country.

Doctor Tudravu says community isolation will protect the elderly who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.



TISI Sangam cancels 2020 Annual TISI Sangam Convention due to COVID-19

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 18/03/2020
[Photo:Howell Road Sangam Temple]

The TISI Sangam has cancelled the 2020 Annual TISI Sangam Convention due to COVID-19.

Sangam Secretary-General Damend Gounder says the decision was made after extensive consultations with its members, District Presidents and the Council of Management members.

He says the 2020 Annual Sangam Convention was scheduled to be held over the Easter weekend in Suva and would have attracted some 10,000 Sangam members and the public on a daily basis.

Gounder says about 1500 overseas delegates had confirmed their participation in this 4-day event.

The Secretary-General also says the world is in a pandemic state due to the Coronavirus outbreak and countries, including Fiji have taken very positive and preventive measures to contain the spread.

He adds that the TISI Sangam Executives will also be meeting this weekend to discuss various ways to engage and work with the government to assist in the containment of the virus and safe health of the people.



LDS suspends all public worship services in Fiji and around the world due to COVID-19

By Iva Danford
Wednesday 18/03/2020

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has suspended all public worship services which includes sacrament meetings, branch, ward and stake activities in Fiji and around the world because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Fiji Church Public Affairs Director, Sulueti Kama says this applies to all of their 56 units in Fiji and all their 18,000 church members.

Kama says they have been told to have their own worship service at home and they will be informed when the suspension will be lifted.

She adds they have also started the process of bringing back Fijians that were on church missions in countries that have COVID-19 cases.

The LDS Church in Fiji has Units in Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Kadavu, Beqa, Tavenuni, Levuka and Rotuma.

LDS Church say they continue to monitor the changing conditions related to COVID-19 throughout the world.



RBF reduces overnight policy rate from 0.50% to 0.25%

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 18/03/2020
The Governor and Chairman of the Board, Ariff Ali

The Reserve Bank of Fiji Board has reduced its overnight policy rate or lending rate to 0.25% from 0.50% to the commercial banks following the RBF’s assessment of the global effects of the recent coronavirus outbreak and its implications on Fiji’s GDP growth and the RBF’s twin monetary policy objectives.

The overnight policy rate is the interest rate at which RBF lends immediately available funds or balances within the central bank, to the commercial banks overnight.

The Governor and Chairman of the Board, Ariff Ali noted that in light of the negative impact of COVID-19 on global travel and trade, as well as deteriorating consumer and business confidence in recent weeks, the reduction in the overnight policy rate or lending is appropriate and should provide the necessary stimulus to the domestic economy.

Ali noted that restrictions on travel within and across borders have already taken a toll on global output as market sentiments have continued to deteriorate amid the latest monetary easing by major central banks in response to the still very fluid developments around COVID-19.

The RBF Governor says domestically, partial indicators for consumption and investment point to sustained softness in aggregate demand.

This means it will be at reduced levels.

Ali also says credit growth continued to decelerate, as labour market recruitment intentions contracted in the first two months of the year.

The RBF Governor says the negative impact of the coronavirus has already been felt in the tourism industry, with cancelled travel and hotel bookings as well as reduced flights.

Ali says given the industry’s major and deep linkages with the rest of the economy, flow-through effects will also affect the key wholesale and retail trade, construction, transport and manufacturing sectors, including Government revenue.

In the RBF’s baseline scenario, the domestic economy is now expected to contract in 2020 against a 1.7% growth earlier projected.

The magnitude of the contraction in the Fijian economy will depend on how long the pandemic persists.

The RBF says nevertheless, several factors should help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the domestic economy.

Ali says excess bank liquidity remains adequate, totalling $669 million as at 17th March 2020.

The Governor says Fiji’s financial system is also assessed to be sound, underpinned by solid capitalisation and liquidity ratios.

He says inflation in February came out at a historic low of -3.0 percent due to annually lower prices for Yaqona, vegetables & fruits and kerosene.

Foreign reserves are also adequate at $2.264 billion as at today, equivalent to 5.8 months of retained imports of goods and services cover.

Against this backdrop, RBF says a reduction in the overnight policy rate will help stimulate demand by reducing the cost of borrowing and support much-needed consumption and investment.

The interest rate at which commercial banks may borrow from the RBF under the Repurchase Facility will now be 0.50 percent compared to 1.00 percent previously.

The reduction in the Bank’s overnight policy rate is effective from today.



Travel restrictions widen to cover foreign nationals who have been present in Spain

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 18/03/2020
Nadi Airport, International Depatrues [image: rnz]

Fiji has widened its existing travel restrictions to cover all foreign nationals who have been present in Spain within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

From today, Fiji’s borders will be closed to all foreign nationals who have been present in mainland China, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Spain within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

The Permanent Secretary for Immigration, Yogesh Karan says  Fijians returning from mainland China, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Spain are required to undergo mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival to Fiji.

Karan says all Fijians travelling overseas should be aware, if a country they visit is added to Fiji’s restricted travel list while they are abroad, they will also be required to undergo mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Fiji.

He says Fijians are also strongly urged to refrain from any non-essential overseas travel.

He adds due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, new countries may be added to Fiji’s restricted travel list at any time.

The Permanent Secretary adds all international air passengers will continue to be checked with handheld temperature scanners prior to entering the country, and their travel history and health status will be screened by border agents.

Karan say as announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, preparations are underway to introduce thermal scanners at our international airports.

He adds cruise ships are not permitted to berth anywhere in Fiji,  Government ministers, permanent secretaries, civil servants and statutory body staff members are not permitted to travel overseas barring exceptionally critical circumstances.

He says international events have been banned and overseas guests are not permitted to participate in local events.

Karan further says in the interest of preventing an outbreak of COVID-19 in Fiji, it is vital that all Fijians heed the call from the Prime Minister to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water and limit person-to-person contact as much as possible.




Fijians may be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Fiji from overseas - Dr. Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 17/03/2020
Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete [image: File]

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says Fijians may be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Fiji from overseas, even if they are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Doctor Waqainabete says self isolation is to ensure that the person is in self isolation at home and will not become a threat to family members and others around them.

He stresses that this is a precautionary measure to be taken at the person’s home and people will be advised on the Health Ministry’s contact numbers if they do develop symptoms after leaving the airport.

There is another scenario.

Doctor Waqainabete says if any returning Fijian citizen shows symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 at the airport, they will be isolated at an allocated health isolation facility and tested for COVID-19.

The Health Minister says they already have secure isolation facilities up and running throughout Fiji, with the Central Division being served by Navua Hospital, the Western Division served by the Nadi Hospital, and Labasa Hospital serving the Northern Division.

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says as we monitor the situation, more isolation units will be established as the need arises in accordance with their expansion plan.

 These measures will all be subject to review as the global situation evolves.

The government is also highly discouraging all Fijians from travelling overseas.

 Fiji remains coronavirus-free.

Bainimarama confirms that if and when we see our first case, far more stringent measures will immediately come into effect to aggressively prevent the spread of the disease, as other nations have done, such as bans on local gatherings.

 The single most important thing anyone can do is to wash your hands with soap and water on a regular basis. The combination of soap and water kills COVID-19 dead in its tracks.

Bainimarama says a thorough and effective handwashing takes 20 seconds and with this simple act, you may very well be saving a life.

He also we will also need to break the habit of shaking hands, hugging and sharing takis and bilos. Instead, simply share a “bula” from a safe distance and limit in-person contact as much as possible.

 




USP cancels graduation ceremony due to Covid-19

By Naveel Krishant
Tuesday 17/03/2020

The University of the South Pacific has announced that the graduation ceremonies that was scheduled for this week has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

The medal and prizes ceremony was scheduled for today while the  Graduation ceremonies were scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

USP says the medals and prizes will be awarded to recipients during the September Graduation while students may collect their graduation certificates and transcripts from the Vodafone Arena on Thursday and Friday.

Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment and Pacific Technical And Further Education graduates can collect their certificates on Thursday while Faculty of Business and Economics graduates can collect their certificates on Friday.




No confirmed COVID-19 cases in Fiji - Dr Waqainabete

By Iva Danford
Monday 16/03/2020
Health Minister Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete has confirmed that there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Fiji.

He says all 27 tests that have been conducted for COVID-19 have returned negative.

Dr. Waqainabete says they will continue to do more tests.

The Health Ministry says this is regarding reports of a Rwandan national being confirmed as a case of COVID-19 in Rwanda after arriving in Rwanda on March 8th from Fiji via the USA and Qatar.

The Health Ministry says they have confirmed with the World Health Organisation that this person is the close contact of another confirmed case in Rwanda and he contracted COVID-19 from this other case after he had arrived in Rwanda and did not get COVID-19 in Fiji.

They say there is no threat to Fiji from this case.

The Health Ministry is strongly urging the public to not share rumours and misinformation adding just as they did during the measles outbreak the Ministry will inform the public as soon as possible once they have a confirmed case of COVID-19.



Business community to come together and discuss what sort of help they will require from government

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 16/03/2020

The business community will come together today and discuss what sort of assistance and government intervention they will require to survive in the coming months.

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Premila Kumar has already stated that the government has to align its supplementary budget towards tackling the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

Following the discussions today, the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry will prepare submissions which will be given to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

Some Government Ministers will also be part of this forum and will hear first hand the challenges and difficulties faced by businesses, particularly small businesses.

The President of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Nur Bano Ali says business will absolutely slowdown as supply chains will be affected.

Dr. Ali says they will come up with targeted policy initiatives that can be taken on board by government to help businesses.

She says small businesses are most affected during this kind of period as they are vulnerable and do not have lots of reserves to keep them alive.

The business forum will be held today at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will present a Supplementary Budget to parliament at 7.30pm next Thursday.



COVID-19 : PM announces ban on cruise ships and international events from today

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 15/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Photo:PM Frank Bainimarama]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that from today, cruise ships will be banned from berthing anywhere in Fiji, international events will not be allowed in Fiji and local events will be closed to all guests coming in from overseas.

While announcing new measures to battle COVID-19 or Coronavirus, Bainimarama says they also highly discourage all Fijians from travelling overseas.

He says if people do choose to travel anywhere outside of Fiji, they may be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Fiji, even if they are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Bainimarama adds this, of course, is already mandated for Fijians arriving home from nations on Fiji’s restricted travel list.

The Prime Minister says Ministers, civil servants, Permanent Secretaries and staff of statutory bodies will be restricted from travelling overseas barring exceptionally critical circumstances.

Bainimarama further says the travel restrictions on Italy, Iran, South Korea and mainland China remain in full effect, as do the stringent screening measures at international airports.

He says they plan to install thermal scanners at our international airports.

Bainimarama says these measures will all be subject to review as the global situation evolves.

He has also revealed that secure isolation facilities are up and running throughout Fiji, with the Central Division being served by Navua Hospital, the Western Division served by the Nadi Hospital, and Labasa Hospital serving the Northern Division.

Bainimarama says as they monitor the situation, more isolation units will be established as the need arises in accordance with the expansion plan.

He adds Fiji does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19.



COVID-19 global outbreak will have some impact on our performance - FNPF

By Semi Turaga
Sunday 15/03/2020
FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi

The Fiji National Provident Fund says the COVID-19 global outbreak will have some impact on its performance but it’s too early to put that into exact numbers as the scenarios are still evolving.

FNPF Chief Executive Officer, Jaoji Koroi emphasizes that FNPF is a long term investor and is liaising closely with its subsidiaries and other relevant Government agencies and is also monitoring the international situation.

Koroi says with a focus on prevention and business continuity, the Fiji National Provident Fund will be implementing new processes in response to the threat of COVID-19.

He says they will activate response plans that will ensure that it continues to provide critical services to its members and stakeholders.

Koroi adds that effective immediately, Renewal Certificates due for March and April, will not be required to be submitted for pension payments.

This means that Pensioners do not need to go to FNPF to fill in their renewal certificates from the 16th of March until the 28th of April.

Koro says the World Health Organisation has identified older adults as one of the high-risk groups and given that this includes pensioners, they have decided to waive this process to minimise physical contact.

FNPF will also be conducting simulation tests next week for the online submission and offsite processing of funeral applications.

Koroi says FNPF members submitting applications for funeral assistance on Thursday 19th March, will need to submit online so they can test the end-to-end process, from the submission of the application, processing, and payment.

He says they apologise in advance for any delayed service however it is critical that the Fund tests all these processes to ensure FNPF is ready to operate under any adverse circumstances.

Koroi stressed that like other organisations and countries, the Fund is going through a business cycle and will address these challenges accordingly.

FNPF is encouraging members to log in to the Fund’s digital platforms to enable them to access and monitor their accounts minimising the need to visit FNPF offices.



Consumer confidence in travel is currently really low - Tourism Fiji

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 14/03/2020

Tourism Fiji says consumer confidence in travel is currently really low and for that reason, they are focused on removing this uncertainty for those considering a holiday to Fiji.

It says to do this the national carrier, Fiji Airways, along with their hotel partners and ground operators are offering flexible and relaxed booking policies, removing change fees to restore confidence in travel to Fiji.

Tourism Fiji says one event they have received a lot of enquiries about is understandably the Fijian Tourism Expo.

It says it is a signature trade event for Fiji and they are optimistic they can still deliver a great event to bring together buyers and sellers at this important time.

They are monitoring the situation closely and will be giving regular updates in the lead-up to the event.

With COVID-19, Tourism Fiji says the situation changes on a daily basis and they continue to navigate a path through this global disruption the best they can.

It says their strategies are changing alongside the situation.

Tourism Fiji says their regular consultations with the Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, SOFTA, Fiji Airways and FHTA have been invaluable for this.



Head of WHO says Europe is now the epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic

By Semi Turaga
Saturday 14/03/2020
Patients lie one metre apart in a huge building outside the Spedali Civili hospital in northern Italy [Photo:BBC]

The Head of the World Health Organisation says Europe is now the "epicentre" of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.

His comments came as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths.

Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet.

There were 250 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.

111250802-europemapcircles-13mar-v2-nc

BBC News reports Spain, the worst-affected European country after Italy, reported a 50% jump in fatalities to 120 on Friday. Infections increased to 4,231.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a state of alert will come into effect there today for two weeks.

[Source:BBC]



8 Fijians who had symptoms similar to COVID-19 have all tested negative

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 12/03/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

8 returning Fijians from overseas who had symptoms similar to COVID19 have all tested negative for the virus.

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says the tests were conducted at the state of the art Fiji Centre for Disease Control in Tamavua.

Doctor Waqainabete confirms that there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Fiji at the moment.

The Health Ministry’s plan to deal with COVID-19 is to take all preventative measures, act definitively and swiftly, contain and then isolate as quickly as possible.

Coronavirus-test

Patients who go with flu-like symptoms, cough and respiratory problems are already being isolated to a separate outpatients room at all public hospitals.

Doctor Waqainabete says they have a clear process to determine if the person needs to be tested, and they then decide to contain and isolate the person.

The Health Minister also confirms that all immediate contacts of the person will also be monitored and self-isolation at their homes will also be an option.

He stresses that containment and isolation are absolutely necessary. Banning mass gatherings is also part of the option if the number of cases becomes an issue.

Coronavirus-test-2-sm

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, Doctor Waqainabete is calling on people to start taking the necessary precautions.

He says personal hygiene is very important as you have to keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face especially your mouth, nose and eyes.

Doctor Waqainabete says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus.

He stresses that although there are no confirmed cases in Fiji, people should also start taking precautions and stop shaking hands with people.

You are also advised not to share yaqona bilos and taki glasses.



FCCC warns traders not to increase prices of certain items during COVID-19 global outbreak

By Iva Danford
Friday 13/03/2020
FCCC Chief executive Officer Joel Abraham

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has heard that certain businesses locally are starting to overcharge the public on goods and services and is taking advantage of the public's fears during the COVID-19 global outbreak.

FCCC Chief Executive Officer Joel Abraham says they want to let traders and businesses know that they will not tolerate any attempts at price gouging.

Abraham says they have seen that overseas businesses have increased the price of items like face masks and hand sanitisers by large amounts after the announcement of the COVID-19 global outbreak.

He says price gouging is the practice of raising prices on certain types of goods and services to an unfair level, especially during a state of emergency.

Abraham says they have heard that certain businesses locally are starting to do this and they want to make it very clear that this is unacceptable.

He says a few weeks ago a trader was fined $100,000 and ordered to pay compensation to aggrieved consumers, this should be an example to unethical businesses that such bad behavior will not be tolerated and they will continue to crack down hard on such cases.

The CEO says they will be working hard to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not undertake such tactics in an attempt to cheat hardworking Fijians.



COVID-19 Budget: AG says key expenditures must be made to ensure protection of Fijian way of life

By Semi Turaga
Friday 13/03/2020
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [Photo:Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum]

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says we cannot risk waiting until the close of the financial year to re-evaluate our spending priorities and take stock of our revenue streams.

Sayed-Khaiyum says there are key expenditures that must be made to ensure the protection and continuation of the Fijian way of life, that includes our people’s health, their jobs, their businesses and their food security.

He adds it is clear the time to act is now, that is why government will be announcing a new COVID-19 Response Budget on 26 March, 2020 at 7.30pm.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the economy remains under prudent and responsible management and the government will not hesitate to make tough decisions with a view towards long-term economic prospects.

He says rest assured, government will be leveraging every channel of growth at its disposal to keep the economy prosperous, keep Fijians employed, and keep businesses afloat, all while putting people’s well being first.

He says the Ministry of Economy will be accepting electronic submissions over e-mail on BudgetConsultation@economy.gov.fj

The Supplementary Budget debate will take place from Monday, 6th April to Thursday, 9th April 2020.

The Parliamentary Business scheduled for 16th to 20th March 2020 has been deferred to the Parliament sitting scheduled for 27th April to 1st May 2020.



Pacific's 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed in French Polynesia

By Semi Turaga
Friday 13/03/2020
French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch [L] confirms the Pacific region's first case of Covid-19 at a news conference in Tahiti on Thursday. [Photo: Supplied / President of French Polynesia]

The Pacific's first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in French Polynesia.

The carrier was one of French Polynesia's members of the French National Assembly, Maina Sage, who returned from Paris over the weekend.

Maine-Sage-sm
Maina Sage [Photo: Tahoeraa Huiraatira party]

Sage had a medical check-up before returning to Tahiti last weekend but showed no sign of illness.

Amid concern over the spread of the virus, she then arranged for another test which came back positive.

[Source:RadioNZ]



People should not get alarmed or panic when they see full medical suited people - Dr. Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 12/03/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says people should not get alarmed or panic when they see full medical suited people at hospitals and even in ambulances.

Doctor Waqainabete says they are running their operations 24/7 at all health facilities and are also carrying out full practices in case there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the near future.

He says he does not want hiccups and they know it is not a matter of if but when Fiji has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

8 returning Fijians from overseas who had symptoms similar to COVID19 have all tested negative for the virus.

Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says the tests were conducted at the state of the art Fiji Centre for Disease Control in Tamavua.

He confirms that there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Fiji at the moment.

The Health Ministry’s plan to deal with COVID-19 is to take all preventative measures, act definitively and swiftly, contain and then isolate as quickly as possible.

Patients who go with flu like symptoms, cough and respiratory problems are already being isolated to a separate outpatients room at all public hospitals.

Doctor Waqainabete says they have a clear process to determine if the person needs to be tested, and they then decide to contain and isolate the person.

The Health Minister also confirms that all immediate contacts of the person will also be monitored and self isolation at their homes will also be an option.

He stresses that containment and isolation is absolutely necessary. Banning mass gatherings is also part of the option if the number of cases become an issue.

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, Doctor Waqainabete is calling on people to start taking the necessary precautions.

He says personal hygiene is very important as you have to keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face especially your mouth, nose and eyes.

Doctor Waqainabete says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus.

He stresses that although there are no confirmed cases in Fiji, people should also start taking precautions and stop shaking hands with people.

You are also advised not to share yaqona bilos and taki glasses.



RFMF announces COVID-19 precautions for families and friends of returning personnel from UN mission in Iraq

By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 12/03/2020
RFMF personnel during a past parade [image: RFMF/Facebook]

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces has announced precautions due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to ensure the health and well-being of families, friends and the service personnel returning from United Nation Assistance Mission in Iraq.

In an advisory, they say all family members will not meet/greet the soldiers off the aircraft or at the Nadi Airport Arrivals.

Instead, all family members and friends intending to welcome troops who are inbound from the Mission are to make their way to the Delta Company Camp, CAAF Compound, Nadi by 5pm tomorrow.

The RFMF says here they will be briefed on all processes and procedures regarding the arrival of the troops and follow on measures that should be followed after service personnel and their family members are home.

They add this measure is being taken to minimize disruption to the Nadi Airport Operations and to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all during the planned arrival of troops at 6pm tomorrow.



WHO labels Covid-19 a pandemic

By Semi Turaga
Thursday 12/03/2020

The coronavirus outbreak has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

A pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

The Head of the World Health Organisation Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold over the past two weeks.

He said he was "deeply concerned" by "alarming levels of inaction" over the virus.

He said several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled.

Ghebreyesus said governments had to strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimising disruption and respecting human rights. 



Plan for COVID-19 is to act definitively and swiftly, contain and then isolate as quickly as possible - Dr. Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 11/03/2020

The Health Ministry’s plan to deal with COVID-19 is to take all preventative measures, act definitively and swiftly, contain and then isolate as quickly as possible.

Following the historic announcement today that Fiji can now test for COVID-19 at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control in Tamavua, Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has told Fijivillage that people that have clear symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested and the result will be available in 6 hours.

He says this is a big step forward as the tests were previously being sent to Melbourne and one result was costing $4,000.

Doctor Waqainabete says the Fiji Centre for Disease Control aspires for excellence, and there has been a lot of investment from the government. He also says that they have a high caliber of staff and lab scientists based at the centre.

Patients who go with flu-like symptoms, cough and respiratory problems are already being isolated to a separate outpatient room at all public hospitals.

Doctor Waqainabete says they have a clear process to determine if the person needs to be tested, and they then decide to contain and isolate the person.

The Health Minister also confirms that all immediate contacts of the person will also be monitored and self-isolation at their homes will also be an option.

He stresses that containment and isolation is absolutely necessary. Banning mass gatherings is also part of the option if the number of cases become an issue.

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, Doctor Waqainabete is calling on people to start taking the necessary precautions.

He says personal hygiene is very important as you have to keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face especially your mouth, nose and eyes.

Doctor Waqainabete says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus.

He stresses that although there are no confirmed cases in Fiji, people should also start taking precautions and stop shaking hands with people.

When asked on a lot of people having grog sessions in the country, people mixing the grog and sharing one bilo, Doctor Waqainabete says people should take the precautionary measures and be smart about things.

How can you prevent yourself from getting coronavirus and other diseases?

•Frequently clean hands soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub

•Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose, and eyes

•When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands

•Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – stay at least 1 metre away

•Avoid travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea



PM pays tribute to health staff for their preparatory efforts so far for Covid-19

By Naveel Krishant
Wednesday 11/03/2020

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has paid tribute to the health staff for their impressive and professional handling of the preparatory efforts so far for Covid-19 or Coronavirus.

While opening the Molecular Laboratory and the Fiji Centre for Diseases Control in Tamavua this morning, Bainimarama says the health staff do not get anywhere near enough credit for the hours – including sleepless nights – and expertise, they have given the nation-wide COVID-19 response effort.

He says the facts supporting their good work do not justify the flames of frenzy they have seen stoked by the politicians who have been trying to discredit them and their life-saving efforts to protect fellow Fijians

The Prime Minister says his message to the health professional is: keep up the good job, and stay diligent.

He adds they will empower them to do what must be done to keep our people safe.

Bainimarama says he knows they face a great deal of questions and concerns from their friends and members of their community - always refer them to the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for information, as these are the only reliable sources for any updates related to COVID-19.



Due to Covid-19 we face major financial disaster - Faiz Khan

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 10/03/2020

Following the Airports Council International’s official announcement that the COVID-19 outbreak could have a revenue loss of US$3 billion for airports in the Asia Pacific region, Fiji Airports CEO Faiz Khan has said that due to the COVID-19 we face major financial disaster.

Khan says capital infrastructure projects planned in the future will be deferred but those already under contractual engagements have to go ahead.

He says this makes the situation of the airports highly challenging, along with the entire aviation and tourism industry.

Khan says almost all costs at the airports are fixed costs. 

He says every dollar lost in revenue is lost from the bottom line and cash flow.

Khan says in the meantime fixed costs and existing commitments cannot be reduced.

The Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific has warned the prolonged duration of the COVID-19 outbreak will significantly set back the region’s airports from previously forecasted growth prospects.

World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2019–2040 predicts US$12.4 billion revenue for the first quarter in the Asia-Pacific region in the "business as usual" scenario. The impact of COVID-19 is projected to have a revenue loss of US$3 billion.

The airport association urges regulators and governments to implement well-defined adjustments and relief measures tailored to suit local level contexts.

According to ACI World estimates, Asia-Pacific is suffering the highest impact, with passenger traffic volumes down -24% for the first quarter of 2020, compared to forecasted traffic levels without COVID-19.


Within the Asia-Pacific region, mainland China, Hong Kong SAR and the Republic of Korea remain at the centre of the effects with sizable losses in traffic volumes.

Meanwhile, there is a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in several countries in the Middle East, expecting to significantly impact traffic downwards by -4.2%, as travellers and airlines adjust their plans and seat offers in the coming days and weeks.

 Against this gloomy background of sharp declines in traffic and passenger throughput, airports’ aeronautical revenues and non-aeronautical revenues are rendering similar declines.

The shortfall in the number of passengers and the cancellation of flights leads to reduced revenues from airport charges such as landing and parking charges paid by airlines, and passenger service and security charges paid by passengers.

While aeronautical revenues are under pressure, the cost base for airport operations remains unchanged as airports can neither close nor relocate their terminals during the outbreak.

“Unlike airlines, who can choose to cancel flights or relocate their aircraft to other markets to reduce operating costs, airport operators manage immovable assets that cannot be closed down. They are faced with immediate cash flow pressures with limited ability to reduce fixed costs and few resources to fund capacity expansion efforts for longer-term future growth,” said Stefano Baronci,

Director General of ACI Asia-Pacific. “For privately-held airports, the situation is even worse as they do not benefit from relief measure but are obliged to continue paying concession fees to governments.”




Fiji now able to test for COVID-19 at Fiji Centre for Disease Control in Tamavua

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 11/03/2020
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Fiji will now be able to test for COVID-19 at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control in Tamavua.

Fiji is the first country in the South Pacific to do the test.

While making the announcement this morning, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji is working with urgency to protect our people.

He says the waiting time for results will between 6 to 8 hours and they can test 20 samples at one time.

He says when dealing with the disease that spreads as quickly as Covid-19, every hour saved is critical.

Bainimarama says the road to combating the Covid-19 does not stop here.

He says we are blessed to have been spared so far but with majority of the countries reporting cases, we need to prepare as a matter of when and not if we will see the first case in Fiji.

Bainimarama has urged Fijians to act in utmost precaution and to practice good hygiene to stop the spread of the virus.

The Prime Minister says every time a case of the suspected virus has risen it has been tested and all test results till date have returned negative.

Bainimarama says Fiji’s borders remain closed to all foreign nationals who have been present in mainland China, Italy, Iran and South Korea within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

The Prime Minister says they are constantly reviewing World Health Organization’s latest case numbers and will not hesitate to introduce new and more stringent restrictions when necessary.

He also paid tribute to the Health Workers for their tireless efforts.




If Fiji had a confirmed case of COVID-19 now we are ready to deal with it - Dr Waqainabete

By Semi Turaga, Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 10/03/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete [Image: Fijian Government]

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says if Fiji had a confirmed case of COVID-19 now they are ready to deal with it as their preparation level has been heightened from the start.

Waqainabete says so far they have mobilised resources which includes isolation units in every hospital in the country and also isolation facilities in every division.

He says they are making sure that these units and facilities will deal with intensive cases that have been seen in other countries where there have been infections.

Waqainabete adds that there is also a strong focus on the training of health staff as every day they are learning something new about COVID-19.

Waqainabete says they have also made sure in their preparation plan that medicines and personal protective equipment are available and ready as much as possible.

Waqainabete-strategic-plan-sm

The Health Minister says they also make sure that they are aware of what other countries have done and found to have halted the spread of the disease.

Waqainabete says some countries have gone as far as isolating cities.

He says God forbid if Fiji has a case, they may have to stop mass gatherings.


World Expert Says Countries Should Be Ready And The Elderly At Risk

As the world tries to deal with the rising number of cases of COVID-19, one of the world’s experts who led the fight against the SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus and Dean of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, Professor Gabriel Leung says health systems in countries need to be ready as COVID-19 spreads far more rapidly and the numbers can be exponential.

Professor-Gabriel-Leung-sm
Professor Gabriel Leung

He also says the elderly aged more than 65 years are 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 or the coronavirus.

Leung has told 60 Minutes Australia that about 40 to 60% of the world’s population could be affected by the virus and more than 45 million people could die around the world if proper controls are not put in place.

He says there is an emergency and rigorous infection control is needed.

Experts in Australia say they are already at the highest alert level.

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete is calling on people to start taking the necessary precautions.

He says personal hygiene is very important as you have to keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face especially your mouth, nose and eyes.

The Health Minister says isolation and containment is also very important as they had done during the measles campaign in Fiji.

Doctor Waqainabete says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus.

He stresses that although there are no confirmed cases in Fiji, people should also start taking precautions and stop shaking hands with people.

When asked on a lot of people having grog sessions in the country, people mixing the grog and sharing one bilo, Doctor Waqainabete says people should take the precautionary measures and be smart about things.


Qantas slashes services amid coronavirus travel downturn

Qantas says it will be reducing capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months due to fears over COVID-19.

ABC News reports eight of the airline's A380s will be grounded and two are already undergoing scheduled maintenance which leaves only two in service.

Qantas services to London will also be re-routed, flying via Perth instead of Singapore.

In a statement, the airline said the latest cuts follow the spread of the coronavirus into Europe and North America over the past fortnight, as well as its continued spread through Asia.

Qantas said the biggest reductions would be made to Asian routes, where travel demand is down 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Services to the US, UK and New Zealand will also decrease.

Jetstar will make significant cuts to its international network by suspending flights to Bangkok and reducing flights to Vietnam and Japan by almost half.

Both Qantas and Jetstar's domestic service reductions will be increased from 3 per cent to 5 per cent.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the past fortnight had seen a "sharp drop" in international bookings and warned there may be a need to make further cuts as the situation develops.

In addition to the service cuts, the Qantas chairman will take no fees and the Group CEO will take no salary for the remainder of the financial year.

The board will take a 30 per cent reduction in fees as will the executive management, and annual management bonuses have been set to zero.

Joyce said Qantas wanted to avoid job losses and asked staff to take paid leave where possible or consider unpaid leave as shifts diminish.

Qantas and Jetstar will waive change fees for new international bookings made from today until the end of March.

Almost 100 Australians have now tested positive for coronavirus, around half of them in NSW.



Kumar to meet with industry reps and discuss solutions if the economy takes a hit due to COVID-19

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 10/03/2020

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Premila Kumar says she will be talking to different industry groups this week and have discussions about what government can do for them if the Fijian economy is seriously affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in countries around the world.

Speaking at the Fiji Australia Business Council - Speed Networking Dinner, Kumar says she will be meeting with Industry representatives this Thursday.

Kumar says she personally feels that our economy will be affected.



Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 will put significant stress on tourism and other support activities in Fiji - Fleming

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 10/03/2020
Bank South Pacific Group CEO Robin Fleming

Bank South Pacific Group CEO Robin Fleming says if further travel restrictions are placed due to COVID-19, it is going to put significant stress on tourism and other support activities in Fiji.  

He says from Fiji’s perspective, it is not the immediate impact  on the well being and lives of individuals who are affected, but it is going to be on the economic impact on Fiji and countries which are very much dependent on tourism.  

Fleming says the tourism industry must consider how it encourages people to come to Fiji as there have been no cases presented in Fiji and it must promote Fiji as an environment which has resilience and has no particular encounter with COVID-19.

The Group CEO says the construction industry and certain sections of the communication industry have already felt the impact because of their source of supply.




Catholic Church of Fiji announces precautionary measures against Covid-19

By Naveel Krishant
Monday 09/03/2020
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong

The Catholic Church of Fiji has announced precautionary measures against Covid-19 ( Coronavirus).

In an advisory, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong says all Holy Water will be removed from fonts in Churches and all Holy Communion will be offered only through the sacred bread.

He says receiving the precious blood will be withheld.

Archbishop Chong says all ministers of communion should use alcohol-based hand gels (sanitizers) before distributing communion and wash hands with soap after distribution.

He says shaking hands as a sign of peace during the Mass can be replaced by a respectful bow or acknowledgement.

The Archbishop adds this is a precautionary method and a pro-active step taken within the Archdiocese of Suva and he suggests that this be adopted by all congregations in the Archdiocese of Suva.

He says they recognise that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Fiji is very low but let us not be complacent.

Archbishop Chong further says at all times let us bear in mind the church’s call to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable – our children, the elderly, our mothers and the sick in the community.

He adds once the international threat of the COVID-19 ends, they can, as a faith family, return to the usual practices of using Holy Water, the chalice of Christ’s most holy blood and the shaking of hands.

He also says the measures were adapted from advice given by the Australian Council of Catholic Bishops to parishes throughout Australia which already has cases of COVID-19.



All schools in Fiji are currently strengthening hand washing practices - Akbar

By Priteshni Nand
Friday 06/03/2020
Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar

Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar says all schools in Fiji are currently strengthening their basic hygiene and handwashing practices as a precautionary measure to prepare for Covid-19.

Akbar says there are lot of schools who are part of the hand wash programs.

She says the team at the Ministry is advised to ensure that the information that needs to be communicated to our schools is that all schools must be vigilant in their hand washing and basic hygiene practices.

Akbar says the Ministry will wait for the instructions from the Ministry of Health as to what further action has to be taken in schools.

Although there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Fiji, Akbar says the Education Ministry is currently working on a strategic plan which will be communicated to teachers to continue informing the children on how they can remain protected from the virus.

She says this plan will be communicated to the teachers by early next week.

Akbar says the Education Ministry and the government will ensure that they implement the best action plan to protect all children in schools if Covid-19 is in Fiji.



Four people that were monitored for coronavirus have tested negative

By Vijay Narayan, Dhanjay Deo
Friday 06/03/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete. Photo: File Photo

The four people that were monitored for coronavirus now known as COVID-19 have tested negative.

The Ministry of Health says it received test results from Melbourne last night.

It says there are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Fiji. 

The four that were isolated included a 15-month-old-girl who arrived from the United States of America, a 37-year-old Fijian woman who returned from Italy and a three-year-old Fijian boy and his 26-year-old mother who returned from Bali and Singapore. 

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete is calling on the people of Fiji to work together and to ensure that we do everything right to overcome the coronavirus now known as COVID-19.

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji, Doctor Waqainabete is calling on people to start taking the necessary precautions. 

He says personal hygiene is very important as you have to keep washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face especially your mouth, nose and eyes.

The Health Minister says isolation and containment is also very important as they had done during the measles campaign in Fiji. 

Doctor Waqainabete says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus. 

He stresses that although there are no confirmed cases in Fiji, people should also start taking precautions and stop shaking hands with people.

When asked on a lot of people having grog sessions in the country, people mixing the grog and sharing one bilo, Doctor Waqainabete says people should take the precautionary measures and be smart about things.

There are now over 90,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally with over 80,000 cases alone in China. Over 3,000 people have died worldwide and most deaths have been recorded in China.


Coronavirus may infect up to 70% of world's population, expert warns

One of USA’s top experts on viruses, Marc Lipsitch from Harvard University cautions that 40 to 70% of the world's population will get COVID-19, and from that number, 1% of people who get symptoms, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could die.

Lipsitch has told CBS News that the virus can spread rapidly and people can transmit it before they know they are infected.

He says the 40 to 70% is a proportion of the adult population infected. Lipsitch says they know that some people who get this infection have no or almost no symptoms whatsoever. He says what we don't know is how many there are like that.

Lipsitch says the susceptibility to symptomatic infection seems to go up strictly with age, and especially up at the very oldest ages. He thinks it is now almost inevitable that this will transmit in a global fashion and take a big toll on essentially the entire globe.


How can you prevent yourself from getting coronavirus and other diseases?

•Frequently clean hands soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub

•Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes

•When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands

•Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – stay at least 1 metre away

•Avoid travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea



Test results for the 4 people to be out tomorrow - Dr. Waqainabete

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 05/03/2020

Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says the four people in Fiji being monitored for Coronavirus which is now known as COVID-19 are feeling much better today however they remain in strict isolation.

Doctor Waqainabete says the test results will be out tomorrow.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Fiji.

A 15-month old girl developed respiratory symptoms in Suva after arriving in Fiji from the United States of America yesterday.

A 37-year-old Fijian woman who returned from Italy was flagged with respiratory symptoms during a health screening at Nadi Airport yesterday.

A three-year-old Fijian boy and his 26-year-old mother developed respiratory symptoms yesterday after returning from Bali and Singapore. Contact tracing continues for all four patients.

The Ministry of Health says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus.

There are now over 90,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally with over 80,000 cases alone in China. Over 3,000 people have died worldwide and most deaths have been recorded in China.

Coronavirus may infect up to 70% of world's population, expert warns

One of USA’s top experts on viruses, Marc Lipsitch from Harvard University cautions that 40 to 70% of the world's population will get COVID-19, and from that number, 1% of people who get symptoms, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could die.

Lipsitch has told CBS News that the virus can spread rapidly and people can transmit it before they know they are infected.

He says the 40 to 70% is a proportion of the adult population infected. Lipsitch says they know that some people who get this infection have no or almost no symptoms whatsoever. He says what we don't know is how many there are like that.

Lipsitch says the susceptibility to symptomatic infection seems to go up strictly with age, and especially up at the very oldest ages. He thinks it is now almost inevitable that this will transmit in a global fashion and take a big toll on essentially the entire globe.

How can you prevent yourself from getting coronavirus and other diseases?

•Frequently clean hands soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub

•Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes

•When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands

•Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – stay at least 1 metre away

•Avoid travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea



Four people in Fiji are in isolation and are being monitored for Coronavirus

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 05/03/2020
Minister for Health Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete screening incoming tourist at the Nadi International Airport. [image: Ministry of Health/Facebook]

Four people in Fiji are being monitored for Coronavirus which is now known as COVID-19 and are in strict isolation as the Ministry of Health awaits test results.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Fiji.

All four are in stable condition.

A 15-month old girl developed respiratory symptoms in Suva after arriving in Fiji from the United States of America yesterday.

A 37-year-old Fijian woman who returned from Italy was flagged with respiratory symptoms during a health screening at Nadi Airport yesterday.

A three-year-old Fijian boy and his 26-year-old mother developed respiratory symptoms yesterday after returning from Bali and Singapore.

 Contact tracing has commenced for all four patients.

The Ministry of Health says as the symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, it is expected that with time the Ministry will investigate more persons with relevant travel history and symptoms related to coronavirus.

The Ministry is urging the public to not share rumours and misinformation.  

72 countries outside China have reported cases of coronavirus with 30 countries reported by the World Health Organisation as having local transmission.

There are now over 90,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally with over 80,000 cases alone in China. Over 3,000 people have died worldwide and most deaths have been recorded in China.

How can you prevent yourself from getting coronavirus and other diseases?

 •Frequently clean hands soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub

•Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes

•When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands

•Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – stay at least 1 metre away

•Avoid travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea




Coronavirus: World is in 'uncharted territory' - WHO

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 03/03/2020

The World Health Organisation has said the world is in "uncharted territory" on the coronavirus outbreak with the number of deaths worldwide now more than 3,000.

More than 90% are in Hubei, China, but there have been deaths in 10 other countries.

There have been more than 80,000 infections worldwide.

The European Union Disease Prevention Agency has raised the risk level to "moderate to high"

South Korea is reporting 476 new cases, a total of 4,212, and a death toll of 28.

One of the countries worst affected outside China - Italy - on Monday saw a jump in its death toll from 34 to 52.

Indonesia, Senegal, Jordan, Iceland, Portugal, Armenia, the Czech Republic and Andorra confirm their first cases of the coronavirus which is now known as COVID-19.

[Source: BBC]




Man who allegedly lied to a nurse about having Novel Coronavirus remanded in custody

By Semi Turaga
Tuesday 03/03/2020
Simione Nakuna Junior leaves court

A 24-year-old man who allegedly lied to a nurse and a doctor about having the Novel Coronavirus which is now known as COVID-19 has been remanded in custody by Magistrate Deepika Prakash.

Simione Nakuna Junior will appear in court again tomorrow where he must provide two suitable sureties and also pay cash bail of $300 before bail is considered.

He is charged with 2 counts of Giving False Information to a Public Officer and 1 count of Malicious Act.

Last Tuesday, Nakuna allegedly told a nurse at the CWM Hospital that he had returned from Kanazawa City in Japan after complaining of having cough and fever.

Nakuna was then put in an isolation room for further assessment after the nurse informed the doctor about the situation.

According to Police, Nakuna also allegedly told the doctor that he was in Japan for 1 month and fled from there without wearing a mask.

He also allegedly gave the nurse and doctor a false name which was Simione Mila.

Nakuna allegedly ran away from the hospital when the nurse and doctor were not in the isolation room.

Police then tracked him down and brought him back to the CWM Hospital last Wednesday where he was found to have upper respiratory tract infection and not coronavirus.

They also checked his travel history and discovered that Nakuna had never left the country.



WHO raises threat level for deadly coronavirus to 'very high'

By Violet Matakibau
Saturday 29/02/2020
Auckland International Airport advice for visitors from novel coronavirus affected countries on what to do if they suspect that they may have contracted the COVID19 virus. [Photo:health.govt.nz]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised its threat level for the deadly Coronavirus to "very high", warning all affected countries should now activate their "highest level" of response.

The alert, announced overnight, comes as New Zealanders are being urged to remain calm after the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed.

A 60-year-old New Zealand resident, is in isolation at Auckland City Hospital after arriving on an Emirates flight (EK450) from Iran, via Bali, on Wednesday with a cough and difficulty breathing.