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Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has confirmed that the latest COVID-19 case is of a 28-year-old male, who had returned from Australia over the weekend and is not related to the first three cases.
He arrived in from Australia on Saturday.
He and his immediate family members are all now in isolation at the Navua Hospital.
Bainimarama says when the man left the flight, FJ 1916 from Sydney to Nadi on Saturday, he was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
He says regardless, the man was advised by health officials at the airport to go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.
“It appears this gentleman did everything right. He went from the airport straight to his flat in Suva, where he immediately self-quarantined. That Sunday night, while he was still self-quarantined, he developed mild symptoms – a sore throat, and then a cough. Recognising the warning signs of COVID-19, he contacted the Ministry of Health via the dedicated hotline, 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.”
The PM says after the test was confirmed, an ambulance transported the patient securely and hygienically to the Central Division isolation ward at Navua Hospital.
“Separate ambulances then transported all members of his household to the Navua Hospital isolation ward, even though their contact with this patient was limited and they currently display no symptoms. They all remain isolated at the hospital, where they pose zero risks to the public.”
Bainimarama says there were 26 other people on the same flight and Fiji Airways was practising safe distancing on the plane, spacing out passengers through their strictly-enforced assigned seating.
“Because of those safety measures, only a handful of others – two other passengers and the three cabin crew who serviced his cabin – risked exposure. Regardless, all other passengers remain in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.”
He 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. From tomorrow, there will be no more scheduled passenger Fiji Airways travel into or out of Fiji until further notice.”
Bainimarama says this case is very different from the first case of COVID-19 that was detected in Lautoka.
“In that case, the patient was showing symptoms and failed to place himself in self-quarantine. That is the reason why we had to lock down the Lautoka confined area. It is why the area will remain locked down for at least the next nine days. I want to reiterate again: From everything we know so far, this new patient did everything right. He followed instructions, he was educated on the symptoms, and – most importantly – he was diligent in protecting his loved ones.”
Praising the man’s actions, the PM says it was clear that he cared for his family, cared for his community, and cared for his country, adding his caution and patriotic sense of duty stands in contrast with the careless behavior of others we’ve seen in Fiji and around the world.
Bainimarama says given this case is vastly different from our first three cases, Government will not be shutting down travel into and out of Suva in the same manner that was required for the Lautoka confined area.
The first three cases were from the same family, where a flight attendant, his mother and nephew, had earlier tested positive and are all in a stable condition.
Bainimarama also says all non-essential travel needs to stop immediately adding that Fiji and the world are at war with the deadly Coronavirus.
The Government is asking Fijians to refrain from travelling unless there is an absolute necessity.
Bainimarama also adding the young and elderly should stay at home at all times.
“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. You can go out to get food, get medicine, take out money or access another essential service. It’s also okay to exercise safely outdoors, so long as you maintain a safe distance from others. But do not visit friends or family unless absolutely necessary. Do not host parties. Do not needlessly linger, and do not mingle with strangers.”
With thousands affected around the globe, the PM says it’s high time that ignorance takes a back seat.
“So, if the Ministry of Health has directed you to self-quarantine, do it. They’ll be calling you and checking in on you in-person to make sure you’re staying away from the public. Let me remind you what self-quarantine entails: For 14 days, you must stay in your home. During that time, you should avoid contact with other members of your household as much as humanly possible.”
Bainimarama is reminding people that food and other essential goods will continue to come into the country.
He is also urging all Fijians to start practising social distancing.
This is to help the country avoid a major catastrophe in relation to deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Bainimarama says the ban on gatherings of 20 people or more remains in full effect.
He says all weddings, funerals, concerts, and sporting events should all be cancelled.
“Physical distancing means exactly that; keeping your distance from all people at all times. Two metres to be exact. Right now, wherever you are watching this, stop, and look around. Make sure everyone around you is at least an arm length away. That is what it means to physically distance.”
The PM adding that no matter where people are in Fiji, they should immediately start maintaining a two metre distance as much as humanly possible.
“I’ve seen images going around of people standing in line and congregating in Suva and other urban areas. All of that ends today. If you need to get in line, space yourself out properly and keep two metres between you and everyone else. Queue with the diligence that you could cough or sneeze at any moment, and queue with the compassion that that person could be your grandmother. But even if you lack those traits, know that police officers will be enforcing these measures everywhere in the country.”
He has also reminded restaurants to cut their seating and place a focus on take-away and delivery.
“If you run a business in an industry where remote work is possible, tell your workers to start working from home. We also highly discourage passenger travel to our outer islands. Shipping lines for freight will continue –– with increased bulk but decreased frequency –– to ensure food and other essential goods are supplied across our islands.”
The PM also reminding people not to indulge in panic buying.
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