Lockdown always on the card, but no decision yet: Dr Fong

Fiji’s Ministry of Health has not ruled out imposing lockdown restrictions nationwide due to the recent spike in coronavirus infections.

The country recorded its new daily high on Sunday, 23 May with 24 infections, and a day later confirmed 99 active cases in isolation, with new cases surfacing in new localities within Suva and Nausori – in Samabula, 7 miles, Nadawa, Waila and Tacirua.

The increased case numbers also prompted increased discussions and postings on social media platforms with some groups making reference to a national lockdown.

“The possibility of lockdown is always on the card. For now I can confirm that no such decision has been made,” Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said.

He also denied reports that the country’s swab stocks are short in supply, saying the ministry expects additional supply this week to cater for increased swabbing in high-risk areas.

“We are particularly concerned about settlements where people live in close proximity to each other, and we want to keep them free of infection, so we will now increase our swabbing within a settlement where there are known cases,” Dr Fong said in a statement yesterday.

The ministry also put down the recent increase in cases to individuals not adhering to COVID19 protocols within households, during social gatherings and workplaces with large numbers of staff, like supermarkets, that are at high risk for the spread of the infection.  
“We are urging all workplaces, including supermarkets and other commercial establishments to review your procedures and make sure you are complying with the protocols we have established to eliminate the spread. Commercial establishments and operators of public transport vehicles must enforce limits on capacity, enforce masking requirements, be diligent about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, ensure staff do not work if they are sick and make sure all employees comply and also enforce these procedures. And everyone must download the careFIJI app.”

Dr Fong said the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will work with commercial business owners–particularly supermarkets–and the transport industry in this regard.

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