14 confirmed cases, medics search for 130

TWO cases confirmed in the Labasa cluster of COVID19 patients to bring the total number of infected persons to 14 as authorities work to find more than 130 people who might have been in contact with a patient.

Confirmed to be patient number 12 is the daughter in law of patient nine, the 54 year old male, a resident of Soasoa in Labasa who returned from India on March 22.

An elderly woman with pre-existing health conditions who is the wife of patient nine is, case 13.

Meanwhile patient 14 is the sister of the first Fijian to be tested positive with COVID19. She is also the mother of the 14 month old toddler who is patient 3.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama confirmed the new cases and explained that patient 14 was one authorities had expected would contract the virus too. 

“This was a case we have long been expecting. She is the young mother of an existing case –– the COVID-positive one-year old baby boy –– and she chose to stay in isolation with her child to continue to breastfeed and care for him.”

“She has been in isolation since the 19th of March, when our first case tested positive.”

PM Bainimarama gave credited to the disciplined forces following a reduction of the number of people who broke curfew rules to 21 for April 5.

“But this Sunday, in the lockdown areas of Lautoka, Suva and Soasoa, hundreds of our Fiji Police officers and RFMF personnel spent the rainy weekend conducting COVID-19 protection operations –– ensuring that the Fijian people kept to our health protection directives.”

However, Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho admitted it was still difficult to police the lockdown area after PM Bainimarama revealed that a man who arrived in the country on March 24 was found inside the Lautoka lockdown area.

The man was detected at a fever clinic in Lautoka. 

“He arrived in Fiji on the 24th of March from Uruguay, transiting through Singapore. Now, you might be wondering how this gentleman arrived in Lautoka when the lockdown came into effect on the 19th of March,” PM Bainimarama said.

“After further questioning, we discovered that he had in fact smuggled his way into the confined area. Once inside, it appears he remained within a set area in Lautoka. Now that he’s showing symptoms, our contact tracing teams are determining how many Fijians he may have put at-risk.”

While PM Bainimarama announced the greater Lautoka confined area would be opened at 5am on April 7, the area that the probable case had moved around in would continue to be locked down.

Health Minister Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete revealed that authorities had begun to prepare isolation facilities at government schools in Labasa, Savusavu and Taveuni.

While contract tracing for the other three clusters was now complete, authorities continue their search for people that patient nine from Soasoa, Labasa had got into contact with on his trip from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu upon his return from India.

The list of people includes more than 130 people who travelled by ferry with patient nine. A group of 28 police man who were on that vessel are already in isolation in Labasa.

Read the Prime Minister’s full speech here.

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