Schools could open for face to face classes for students from Years 8 to 13 on Monday 24th January 2022 if the all clear is given by the Education Ministry this Friday.
While speaking during a ministerial briefing, Education Minister, Premila Kumar says the recent bad weather, TC Cody and the volcanic eruption in Tonga led them to close schools.
She says 9 schools were flooded during the bad weather and 58 schools were used as evacuation centres.
Kumar says 2 schools were inundated with water after the volcanic eruption while 8 schools were used as evacuation centres.
The Education Minister says all schools used as evacuation centres are being cleaned and cleared by the Ministry of Health.
Kumar says the all clear will be given and an announcement will be made on Friday.
The dates for resumption of face to face classes for early childhood to Year 7 has not been announced.
Kumar had earlier told us that they will discuss this in their end of the week assessment.
She says they had said that they will stagger this, and once the students from Years 8 to 13 settle in, they will get the younger ones in.
Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says tomorrow, two government vessels will depart for the Lau Group to provide immediate relief supplies and conduct a needs assessment in communities most affected by the tidal surges.
Sayed-Khaiyum says Ministers Jone Usamate and Dr.Ifereimi Waqainabete will also be part of the team travelling to Lau.
He says they have formally written to the Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni to assure Tonga has Fiji’s support as the Tongan government looks to respond to their people’s immediate needs and eventually mount their recovery
Sayed-Khaiyum adds many of our people have friends and family in Tonga and we know we are all anxious for the latest news as our Pacific brothers and sisters weather what has been called a one in a 1000 year event.
The Acting PM also says they have expressed Fiji’s condolences to the Tongan Prime Minister and he had a brief conversation with him on Sunday via satellite phone.
He highlighted that Fiji is working with Australia and NZ to coordinate regional relief efforts.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says Fiji has offered to airlift disaster ready RFMF personnel and they are currently in isolation and will be tested before departure.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is recovering well after his successful surgery in Australia.
Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Bainimarama is feeling very well and is up and walking around the hospital.
Sayed-Khaiyum says Bainimarama has expressed his gratitude to everyone for their kind words of support and indeed their prayers.
He adds Bainimarama is looking forward to his return.
The Acting PM highlighted that Bainimarama’s recovery timeline remains as was announced on Saturday.
Bainimarama went through a cardiovascular procedure in Australia.
The Acting PM had said that Bainimarama is expected to be back at the helm of the nation by the end of next month.
Minister for Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu says TC Cody is the first cyclone that has become so politicized and one can bet that this is because this is an election year.
While speaking during a ministerial briefing, Seruiratu says election year or not, no one has an excuse to demand their frontline officials to place themselves at life-threatening risks.
He says while they work tirelessly to reach every Fijian impacted by severe weather, we must all remember that early preparation is key to enduring disasters.
Seruiratu says as responsible citizens, it is common sense that we prepare ourselves accordingly before a disaster strikes by bringing a disaster kit including two to three days of food items to evacuation centres.
He says this has been their consistent advice to the public for years due to the difficulties and uncertainty of reaching cyclone-affected communities within the first 48 hours of a disaster.
The Minister for Disaster Management says their priority is to get relief supplies as fast as it can be done but there are serious hazards to their frontline officials in the immediate aftermath of a storm.
Seruiratu confirms to date, at least 1,000 affected families have been assisted with food ration packs.
The Minister says he personally started visiting flood-stricken villages from 10th January to witness the devastation not only on the livelihoods but the food system.
Meanwhile, only one evacuation centre is now open in Macuata.
Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Doctor Mahendra Reddy says a team of environmental officers will be deployed to the Lau Group this week to monitor the air qualify.
Dr Reddy says they recorded slightly acidic rainfall on Monday and Tuesday this week with pH levels ranging from 4.08 to 4.99.
He says the Ministry has been in touch with experts who have advised that if the pH of water slightly decreases then nature has its own way to counter it.
Dr Reddy says in addition to the advice published this week, members of the public should thoroughly wash any agricultural produce before consuming it and follow advisories by the Water Authority of Fiji with regards to the suitability of drinking water.
He says it is too early to say the impact of this eruption on marine life but generally, the volcanic ash and pumice can have an impact on marine life and ecosystems.
Dr Reddy adds they are testing any impact on the marine ecosystem at the moment.
The Minister for Waterways also says most of the flooding we saw during TC Cody was due to the river banks breaking under the strain of excessive rain and the Ministry is continuing to protect our communities from these climate-driven storms that produce intense rain.
Dr Reddy says last year they undertook a 1-kilometre widening program at the Ba River near Votua Village which allowed water to recede very quickly thus causing no major damage to the town and nearby communities. He adds the next step is to dredge the river mouth.
Minister for Tourism Faiyaz Koya says in December alone, Fiji welcomed about 36,000 visitors from Travel Partner Countries.
He says most of these tourists were either from Australia or the United States.
While speaking during a ministerial briefing this afternoon, Koya says in January 2022, our visitor numbers remain strong and we continue to receive on average 1,200 visitors per day.
Koya further says they are estimating that by the end of January, Fiji will receive another 35,000 visitors.
He highlighted that traditionally, February is our lowest month in the tourism season and early indications from the airline forward bookings show that in February, they expect up to 15,000 visitors, in March they expect up to 20,000 visitors and, in April they expect up to 30,000 visitors.
Koya further says they know how this virus works and they know that the only way to sustain the industry is to ensure health remains paramount.
He also says the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce continues to monitor our Travel Partner Countries – and where necessary – escalating risk mitigation measures.
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