Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr James Fong has revealed that one of the reasons behind an explosion in COVID cases was the opening up of the borders in the Central Division last year.
Dr Fong says initially, the majority of the cases were in the Suva/Nausori corridor and when the borders opened, the case numbers rose rapidly.
He admits apart from the difficulty in maintaining the border closure, trade and socio-economic issues forced them to make tough decisions.
“People were calling me at 3am, 4 am telling me Dr Fong you can sleep in your house. I don’t have a house to sleep in, I don’t have a bed to sleep in, my children are crying and they are starving. I need to get out of this house and look for food, you are okay we are not okay.”
Dr Fong stresses there were a lot of pressure on them to open the borders in the Central Division.
Unfortunately, he says this was partly responsible for the surge in COVID cases.
“I guess if we did not release the valve the surge would have just spread out openly over a longer period of time but the good thing would have been that the disease would have been more manageable because the size of the caseload would be a bit easier but it is what it is we can’t change much.”
Dr Fong says what they did to protect the country was maintain a border between the Central and Western Divisions, isolate the Northern and the Eastern Divisions and wait for the escalation of the immunization efforts.
He adds this worked to some extent as the Western Division numbers and fatalities were about one-third of the Central Division.