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COVID-19

Four new cases recorded, as total lockdown lifted

May 19, 2021 5:15 am

There are four new cases of COVID-19 as we hit 31 days since our first community transmission last month.

The new cases are all close contacts of the existing cases of the Nadali cluster in Nausori.

The Suva-Nausori lockdown has also been uplifted with a curfew now in place from 6pm-4am from today and reverting back to two containment zones.

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For Nadali, this has forced the health ministry to cordon off the entire Nadali area, which has now become a source of widespread infections.

“We have cordoned off the entire Nadali Area as a screening zone, meaning no one is allowed to leave Nadali until we screen, swab, and clear everyone in the area. Those who need to return to the area may do so provided they do not leave,” says Permanent Secretary, Doctor James Fong.

The ministry has also revealed that it has placed 7,888 contacts in Suva and Nausori under quarantine, which is the largest number of active contacts we have ever identified.

All these are from the Suva-Nausori corridor but Doctor Fong has also indicated they have more than 11,000 swab results yet to be processed.

This comes after a backlog was caused by the positive cases recorded at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

“We are triaging our testing, which means we are prioritising the swab results from the highest risk individuals. But until we know more, we have 11,000 reasons why we can’t rollback more restrictions. We simply have to run many, many more tests.”

While thanking the Suva and Nausori residents, Doctor Fong, says in the past few days of the lockdown, they have been identifying threats and isolating them ensured that chains of transmission were broken before they could extend, it means clusters were thwarted before they exploded beyond our control.

“Those quiet victories against this invisible enemy were only possible thanks to the public’s cooperation and support through our four days of strict lockdown. Thank you Suva, thank you Nausori –– your cooperation has paid real dividends for the health of the nation. With the high-risk known contacts under quarantine, we can allow the 24-hour curfew for Suva and Nausori to lift at its scheduled close at 0400 hours tomorrow morning, allowing for limited movement in a highly controlled fashion.”

The Suva and Nausori will again become two separate containment zones.

“As is the case for the rest of Viti Levu, the 6pm until 4am curfew will apply.  Supermarkets may open. Banks may open. Pharmacies may open. Restaurants may offer takeaway and delivery services only. Save for these purposes, movement should be avoided as much as possible, and mixing between different household bubbles should not happen at all.”

For all non-containment areas, businesses that are not classified as high-risk may operate so long as they enforce mask-wearing, physical distancing and require customers and employees to have careFIJI installed with Bluetooth turned on.

The high-risk businesses include: Gyms, movie theatres, video gaming shops, cyber cafes, taverns, bars, billiard shops and amusement arcades, as well as hairdressers, barber shops, spas, beauty therapy, massage therapy venues, saunas and tattoo parlours.

Doctor Fong says the nature of these businesses means they cannot operate with proper COVID-safe protocols, including enforced physical distancing of two meters and should all be closed everywhere in Fiji.

The Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport has announced a system of passes to allow businesses with COVID-safe operations plans to re-open.

“A digital portal for obtaining passes is in development, MCTTT will announce details within the next two days on how business and employers can apply through that process to operate with the appropriate safeguards in place. We expect to see employers and businesses to put careful thought into COVID-safe operations plans. We want you to re-open; we want you to employ people, because we need your full might behind alleviating the socioeconomic burden of this pandemic. But that has to be done in extremely well-managed ways. I urge businesses not to begin this process with a temporary timeline in mind. “Normal” has a new definition. The world has adapted to cater for the risks of the coronavirus, so must we. I can’t promise that the results of our testing will make reopening feasible for everyone in the near-term. But we have to at least begin the process of putting forward COVID-safe business plans that manage the risks of resuming operations responsibly.”

With six more cases having recovered, Fiji now has 49 active cases, with three in border quarantine, 34 locally transmitted and 12 under investigation for their source.

Doctor Fong says the two patients in ICU are responding well to treatment.

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