19 September, 2020, 1:26 am Central - 22°C Rain

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

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

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