Fiji Navy resume full operation after officers recover from COVID19

Fiji Navy has resumed operations, but with stringent COVID-measures in place, after all of their affected personnel reportedly recovered from coronavirus.

Maritime Commander Timoci Natuva attributed their recovery to vaccination, and personnel’s age and wellbeing.

“The 100 per cent recovery rate can be attributed to personnel having at least their first jab which provided protection and prevented hospitalization. Additionally, all of those affected were between the age of 22 to 55 and were fit and healthy with no underlying health conditions.”

Maritime Commander Timoci Natuva

The Fiji Navy also imposed new protocols that included making sure that all those serving onboard their vessels are fully vaccinated and divided into working bubbles with minimal contact between them as well as shore-based personnel.

“On ships, we work in confined spaces and we can’t do much about that. It is the nature of the work. We have ensured that those serving onboard are all fully vaccinated and so far that has been achieved. When ships are in the harbour we have revised our SOP to ensure minimal contacts amongst the different bubbles. For the shore bases we trying to minimize personnel working in the office spaces and rotate people around and revise our work routine to minimize contacts within groups. We have learned from the experience and have adapted accordingly. But the main strategy is to have 100% of personnel fully vaccinated and strictly enforce safety measures covid protocols within the workplace. We are on track to achieve that goal. When ships deploy, we ensure that all that deploy are swabbed and tested before joining the ship.”

Natuva

Before the infection, 95% of the Navy had at least received their first jab. After the quarantine and lockdown, their second jab was due. To date, 90% of the Navy have received their second jab.

Infection with the Navy cluster is believed to have stemmed from an officer whose status was announced on 25 May. Their numbers picked up through June, recording at the most 23 in a day, prompting a lockdown of their facility whilst they continued their services.

Natuva said they were able to continue operations including maintaining a presence at sea because they had contingencies in place. Through the four-week lockdown, Fiji Navy had three separate bubbles in operation.

“The numbers were quite high as three ships and the HQ Navy Stanley Brown Base was affected.  It mainly affected the ships with positive cases,  however, the work of HQ Navy continued from within the base as those isolated and on lockdown continued with work while in isolation. The ship RFNS Savenaca was at sea during the period so their deployment was extended.

“Majority of Naval personnel infected were asymptomatic so they continued with normal duties on board the ships while anchored in Suva Harbour. The Navy pers based out of Togalevu Navy Base were all clear with nil positive cases and they were on standby for COVID19 response taskings. They have their own separate bubble which was totally separate from the teams at Walu Bay and onboard ships. A separate team also operated from the Fiji Hydrographic Office at Walu Bay and another team continued operations from Suva Radio 3 DP based out in Lami.”

Of those recovered, most have resumed work onboard and also assisting government efforts, while some who have not seen their families for some time have been given leave to reunite with their families. They are expected to be roped back into work soon to assist in the organisation’s daily operations including the country’s COVID-19 response.

Photo: Fiji Navy

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