Families face jail and fine

SIX families in and around Suva suburbs who refused to be screened by the government’s mobile fever clinics face five years of jail time and or fines of up to $10,000.

The fever clinics which began just before Tropical Cyclone Harold hit the country on April 7 is part of the government’s community screening efforts against the spread of COVID19.

The Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete revealed at today’s announcement of the 16th case they’d given the six families time to reconsider their decision.

“As part of our comprehensive efforts to flush out this virus, teams on the ground are going from house to house in suburbs asking questions and taking temperatures. This is in addition to the fever clinics that we have.”

“Unfortunately, there were six families in the last two days that denied our Ministry of Health personnel the opportunity to do that and they have gone back and explained to them that under the Public Health Act specifically to COVID19 we can do it to make sure that we are protecting the health of the nation as a whole and making sure we leave no stone unturned in terms of the virus”

Under amendments to the Public Health Act passed on March 27 health officials can impose the penalties if people do not cooperate.

Dr. Waqainabete said teams had visited Nabua and other suburbs around the Suva city area. 

In Labasa, the mobile fever clinics were taking place nearer the Soasoa area where patient 9, the 54 year old who returned from India, resided.

Approximately 30 households in the Soasoa area was part of the exercise in which some were tested for fevers and others did not need to be. 

“Remember at the moment we have four clusters of patients. In other countries in NZ for example, they have 10 or more clusters they are following and it’s important that we arrest it at these four clusters.”

The fever clinics will extend into the greater Labasa area in the coming days. Dr Waqainabete explained community screenings were the MOHMS’s method of ‘breaking the chain’ of transmission. He added it was necessary that the public ask clinical staff for identification. 

Meanwhile patient one, the 27 year old flight attendant from Lautoka who has now been in hospital for 24 days was retested and still has the COVID19 virus. He will remain in isolation until he has tested negative and the ministry deems it safe for him to be discharged.

“All patients are well. We’ve retested the first case, second case and the fifth case. We tested the second case at about the 20th day and the fifth case at about 18 or 19 days. They have all come back positive so you can see that this virus lingers on for quite a period of time despite the patients becoming well and are asymptomatic.”

There are now 16 COVID19 cases in Fiji, the latest being the sixth patient to have contracted the virus from the third cluster.

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