33-hour restricted movement, and mask-up when in public spaces in Fiji: Health

A restricted movement order will be imposed for 33 hours across Viti Levu, beginning from 7pm tomorrow, Saturday, 24 April for essential runs only as Fijian authorities made it mandatory across Fiji, from tomorrow as well, to wear masks and have the careFIJI app switched on when in public spaces to assist in COVID19 contact tracing and screening efforts.

The movement order will run until 4am Monday 26 April and restricted to life-sustaining reasons only to allow for screening which starts in Suva tomorrow with all 50 households within the screening zone established on Cunningham Road. More than 20,000 Fijians have been screened in the West, and the campaign will continue throughout the weekend, hence the plea to stay at home as much as possible this weekend.

Businesses, including municipal markets, and public transport operators have been put on notice to wear masks and only entertain customers wearing masks from tomorrow.

“As we’ve seen, all it takes is one person at a funeral to ignite an outbreak. Just the same, all could it take is one maskless person on a bus or minibus to turn that vehicle into a super-spreader event on wheels. The same goes for bus stands, supermarkets, and shops.

“There are cases out there –– we have to find them.”

Fiji’s Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong said

“All bus drivers, minibus drivers and taxi drivers must wear masks, and they should not allow riders who don’t wear a mask to enter their vehicles. LTA officers will be monitoring all public transportation––drivers who are not wearing masks won’t be allowed to drive. Passengers who are not wearing masks will be removed from public transport vehicles.

If abuse is repeated, the LTA will stop some of these public transport vehicles altogether.

Dr James Fong

“Masks work best when everyone wears them. But they are not a substitute for physical distancing. As much as possible, we must still keep two-metres of space between us and others, even when we are wearing masks. Buses and minibuses should also ensure strict physical distancing among passengers. That will not be convenient, we know that, but it is necessary. If this virus takes hold in our community, no one will be driving anyone, anywhere –– drivers and transportation operators must make this sacrifice now or they won’t be operating at all.

“For all other businesses, customers should not be allowed to enter the premises unless they are masked. And the staff of these businesses should be leading by example by wearing masks and wearing them properly.

The same restrictions apply here: We will shut down businesses that are not enforcing mask-wearing for customers and employees.

Dr James Fong

“We know Saturday is a big market day. Everyone who goes to the market must wear a mask, and we are working with municipal councils to manage markets as safely as possible.

“And for all businesses and in all public transportation vehicles, all patrons must also have careFIJI downloaded on their phones and must keep it switched on. If they don’t have a phone, their contact tracing details must be registered.”

The ministry has recorded 168,000 total app downloads, after 20,000 more downloads were recorded overnight.

However, Dr Fong said the number of downloads was not enough – equivalent to less than 0.5 per cent of the total number of smartphones said to be used in Fiji.

Anyone who needs food, money, or medicine, can shop for it at supermarkets, open-air markets, banks, and pharmacies.

Aside from those life-sustaining reasons, we need everyone to please stay home.

Curfew hours will remain the same.

However, the Fiji Police Force will be enforcing restricted movement across Viti Levu from tomorrow evening, Saturday April 24th, at 1900 hours, until Monday morning at 0400 hours, the 26th of April.

Dr James fong

Fiji’s active COVID19 cases remains at 19 (14 border quarantine cases and five locally transmitted cases) after no new case was reported today at the border or in the community.

Other developments overnight:

  • Waicoka village in Tailevu is no longer consider a screening zone
  • Authorities are also maintaining Moturiki island as a containment area until the 14-day incubation period expires despite three people who had attended the funeral last Saturday with Fiji’s case 74 testing negative for the virus.
  • 40 screening clinics are open across the country to all those who believe they may be experiencing COVID-like symptoms.
  • If these protocols are ignored, or if testing reveals additional cases, MOH will be forced to recommend a complete lockdown, in particular for the Suva, Nausori and Lami corridor.
  • Minibus driver that hotel worker or Fiji’s case 74 had used on Saturday, 17 April from Lautoka to Nadi has been foung and is safely quarantined at home and will be tested. Authorities are now looking for the passengers of that minibus.The minibus is white, it has a red painted front bumper with license plate number LM417. A photo of the minibus has been posted on the Fijian Government Facebook page and released to the media.  If you rode in this minibus from Lautoka  to Nadi that night, please call 158. 

Stay home, save lives. Do not treat this virus lightly –– Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands often, and think very carefully about leaving your home, or else we’ll all be home all the time. Someone watching right now may have COVID. If they stay still, the virus stays still. If they move, the virus will move with them and spread to others. That is why we should stay within our homes and only interact with the members of your households.

Dr james Fong
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