Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong is urging all Fijians, to up the fight over the next two weeks and prevent any outbreak, warning of dire consequences following confirmation of the existence of one of the more infectious COVID19 variant in the country, B1617, that was first detected in India.
The ultimatum also comes after revelations that four of the six new cases recorded yesterday are soldiers who recently returned from overseas duties and had contracted the virus during their 14-day quarantine because “some had been fraternising amongst each other”, contrary to protocols. Two other cases were recorded among family members of the 40-year-old mother from Wainitarawau in Cunningham, which Dr Fong said compounded the infectious nature of the virus.
The protocol breaches by the military officers and the infectious nature of the virus have also prompted Fijian authorities to recall all individuals who were discharged from the Tanoa Hotel from 12 April to be screened, swabbed and tested.
“I want the public to have a clear grasp of the stakes here — because the discipline and diligence of ordinary Fijians will make or break our containment of this viral variant,” Dr James said.
“This newly-confirmed COVID variant is one of several dangerous new variants that have taken root in places like Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and in India –– which is suffering a painful fourth wave the likes of which the world has never seen.
“My message to every Fijian is this: Now is not the time to go looking for loopholes. If we don’t win this fight over the next two weeks and this outbreak gets out of control — the prospects for jobs, micro, small and medium enterprises, entire industries, and our economy as a whole could fall into much more dire straits.”
Because of the suspected breaches in protocols, these soldiers’ quarantine period has been extended.
“No unnecessary, frivolous contact is worth an extra two weeks in quarantine, but that’s precisely what all of those in the Tanoa Hotel will now need to endure, under much stricter watch, as we reset the clock,” Dr James said.
Dr James said as, with the soldiers, the Cunnigham family tested positive while in quarantine which means they were unlikely to transmit the virus to the community.
Fiji’s six new COVID-19 patients –– all of whom are safely confined within quarantine or isolation units –– brings the country’s total to 109 confirmed cases since its first case was detected on 19 March 2020. We now have 42 confirmed active cases in isolation.
“I say “confirmed” because, as I’ve stressed before, the number of actual, undetected cases is likely higher –– and that’s precisely why, for your health and the health of your loved ones, you should be wearing a mask at all times.
“You must download careFIJI and keep it switched on whenever you are out of your home. When you initially download careFIJI, we top-up the data. When it is running, it uses a minimal battery and does not chew your data. If you are one of the more than 600,000 Fijians with a smartphone, there is no excuse not to have it downloaded. The family from Makoi did not have the app installed or running — and that has made contact tracing far more complex than it ought to be. Lives are now at-risk as a result.”
Dr James also urges everyone to download the careFIJI App to assist health authorities in their contact tracing work.